Bristol

Norway honours Bristol D-Day veteran

David Cottrell
Image caption Mr Cottrell was just 19 when he helped save more than 70 Norwegians

A Bristol man has become the eighth Briton to be awarded a Norwegian medal for bravery during the D-Day Landings.

David Cottrell, 90, from Redland, was honoured for his part in saving the lives of more than 70 Norwegians on a sinking ship in June 1944.

He was just 19 when the crew of HMS Swift ignored orders and rescued the men from the water, after their ship, the Svenner, was torpedoed.

Mr Cottrell told BBC Points West: "It's a proud moment."

He was an Able Seaman Gunner on HMS Swift, which narrowly missed being hit by the torpedoes before they were used to sink the nearby Norwegian destroyer Svenner, off Sword Beach, Normandy, on 6 June 1944.

Mr Cottrell said the ship "broke in half and sank almost immediately. People were jumping over the sides."

HMS Swift's captain John Gower disobeyed orders to leave the men and instead went to pick up survivors. Of 219 crew aboard the Svenner, 32 Norwegians and one Briton died.

Mr Cottrell said in 2001 he met two of the Norwegians who had been on the Svenner and one of them told him and Captain Gower: "What you've done, myself, my children, my grandchildren owe you a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid."

Nigel Fletcher, Norwegian consul for the South West, said Mr Cottrell had been put forward for the Commemorative Medal after meeting a survivor of the Svenner at a memorial service to mark the 70th anniversary in Norway in 2014.

"It's a great recognition and I think also it gives him time to reflect on his old shipmates and the other people who were with him on that day."

Mr Cottrell's son Richard said he was very proud of his father: "It's one story among thousands and they are all remarkable."

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