France has awarded the last survivor of the original SAS with its highest honour for bravery.
Mike Sadler, 98, was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur yesterday, 74 years after he parachuted into Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War.
He was given the award at a private event in London with representatives of the French embassy and former members of the SAS included on the guest list.
The French defence attaché, Colonel Antoine de Loustal, who presented the red-ribboned medal to one of Britain’s last wartime heroes, said: ‘We shall not forget. We will never forget.’
In 1941, Mr Sadler joined the Long Range Desert Group, a reconnaissance unit based in the North African desert.
He was then brought into the arising Special Air Service – introduced by Lieutenant David Stirling to launch night-time raids against Axis airfields in Libya.
Mr Sadler quickly became the unit’s top navigator as he was able to guide raiding groups across almost bare expanses of desert.
Now almost blind, Mr Sadler said: ‘I’m afraid I can’t give a speech because I can’t read any notes as I can no longer see,’ reported the Times.
Mr Sadler fought with the SAS in Italy and France following his time in the desert war, before setting up the SAS intelligence unit.
In August 7, 1944, Mr Sadler was dropped by parachute into the Loire as part of Operation Houndsworth.