'Last Royal Navy veteran of Dunkirk' dies aged 102 as emotional tributes pour in for 'remarkable man' | The Sun

EMOTIONAL tributes have poured in after the death of the 'last Royal Navy veteran of Dunkirk' at age 102.

Lawrence Churcher peacefully passed away in a care home in Fareham, and has been remembered as a "remarkable man".

The hero enlisted in the Royal Navy when he was 18 with hopes to travel the world and "have a bit of fun".

He would go on to be awarded with France's highest gallantry award, the Legion D'honneur, in recognition of his part in Operation Neptune.

During World War II he was stationed in France by May 1940 after arriving on HMS Eagle to bolster the front line with ammunition.

Lawrence was one of many sent to a railway station just outside Dunkirk when troops retreated back to the beach.

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This sparked Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from the port town of Dunkirk.

On the first day, just 7,669 troops were saved by the beleaguered British fleet.

However, an appeal for a smaller civilian craft to join the rescue mission proved a resounding success – by May 31, plucky Brits had contributed nearly 400 'little ships' to the effort.

At the height of the daring evacuation, over 180,000 allied troops were brought back from France in three days.

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By June 4, when Operation Dynamo ended, a total of 338,226 British and French soldiers had been saved from Dunkirk.

Now, heartfelt tributes have poured in for Lawrence, who was believed to be the last Royal Navy veteran of Dunkirk.

A spokesperson for Project 71, who support World War II veterans, said: "To our knowledge Lawrence was the last Royal Navy veteran of Dunkirk.

"A truly remarkable man, loved and respected by all who knew him.

"Stand down Lawrence, your duty is done. It has been an honour to have known you."

The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships (ADLS) posted: "It's with great sadness that the ADLS has just learnt that Lawrence Churcher crossed the bar this afternoon (August 10).

"Lawrence was the last Royal Navy Dunkirk Veteran that the ADLS is aware of.

"Our Veterans Cruise at the beginning of September will be especially poignant as we remember a generation now lost.

"They may be gone but they will not be forgotten as long as just one Little Ship sails on.

"Fair winds, calm seas, stand easy shipmate, your watch is done."

Lawrence himself has told tales about the war in the past and spoke of how his brothers fought alongside him.

"When my brothers found me, I just felt relief," he recounted.

"There were so many soldiers there and continuous aircraft dropping bombs and strafing us, I had so many things on my mind until I got on board of our ship.

"One fella leaned on my shoulder, gave a sigh of relief and said, 'thank God we've got a navy' and that sort of churned it up inside of me.

"We knew we had to get those soldiers back from Dunkirk."

The war hero was also instrumental in D-Day operations and helped diffuse mines in the North Sea.

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After leaving the Navy, Lawrence went on to have five children and was married to his wife Freda for 52-years.

He is succeeded by his daughters Joan, Valerie and Moira, along with sons Peter and Colin, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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