In 1943 Harold Beven, with the title of Chief Petty Officer Royal Navy, was ordered to go to America on the Liner Queen Mary to commission one of the new landing ships, especially LST 199, which was the leader of the flotilla comprised of 9 other ships. Each ship carried ten 20mm guns, so Harold was responsible for 100 guns.
After attending to all the landings in the Mediterranean the flotilla returned to England in April 1944 to prepare for the invasion of France. Everyone knew the invasion was going to take place but the public were unaware when it was going to happen or where it would happen. On the 4th of June 1944 LST 199 loaded up at Gosport with French Canadian troops and all their equipment. They then proceeded to anchor in the Solent off the Isle of White; by the 5th of June they were assembled amidst 1,000 ships ready to weigh anchor in the early hours of the 6th of June to proceed to the beaches of France.
The total size of the invasion fleet was 5,000 LST 199 was ordered to land at Sword Beach where the ship was unloaded. Harold had little time to check the ships in the flotilla but he did so with difficulty by running along the beach to each LST under fire and bombing so is very lucky to be here to tell his story. Harold made 13 round trips to Normandy on LST 199. When he was released from LST 199 he was sent back to America to join HMS Assistance in the Pacific war.
In presenting the medal Ambarasor JeanblancRisler said “For your bravery and your outstanding accomplishments during the second World War, the French Republic is proud to honour you with its most distinguished recognition.”