The parade and service held in Falmouth at the weekend to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the World War II raid on the French port of St Nazaire, was "the best one ever" attracting veterans, current service personnel and young cadets.
The highlight of Sunday's events was the presentation by the Honorary French Consul, Alain Sibirill, of the Legion D'Honneur, France's highest honour, to the daughter of raid veteran, Bill Bannister. Mr Bannister had been due to attend and receive the medal himself, but sadly died only weeks before at the age of 98. His funeral service had been held on Friday in Plymouth.
His daughter, Jennifer Bennetts, and other members of his family, attended in his place and not only accepted the medal, but also presented the mayor, Grenville Chappel, with a cheque for £300 which will be donated to the Falmouth Stroke Club - the mayor's charity. The money had been given by the family in recognition of the warm reception Mr Bannister had always received when in Falmouth.
The day before, 30 members of the HMS Ganges Association had also visited the mayor in the council chamber where they exchanged plaques. They then attended a service at the HMS Ganges Memorial in Mylor before returning to Falmouth on Sunday to take part in the parade and attend the service at the St Nazaire memorial on the Prince of Wales Pier.
Sunday's commemorations began at Falmouth Cemetery where the mayor's chaplain, Fr Ian Froom, and sexton Lee Mitchell, oversaw proceedings. These included Dave Johnson, the son of Falmouth veteran Johnny Johnson, laying a wreath on his father's grave before further wreaths were laid at the graves of Leading Seaman Bill Savage and LDG motor mechanic RN, Tom Parker.
The parade itself left The Moor just after 10.30am and included the HMS Seahawk Volunteer Band, contingents from 29 Commando from the Royal Citadel in Plymouth and the NATO fleet, as well as veterans and veterans' associations, members of Falmouth and Penryn Sea Cadets and civic leaders.
Also presente were Mark E Horam and his wife, Rosie, and daughter, Katelynn, who had travelled all the way from Windsor Locks in Connecticut to attend St Nazaire commemorations. After attending Falmouth's service, they returned to London where they will attend the St Nazaire Association's lunch on Friday.
Following the presentation of the Legion D'Honneur to Mr Bannister's family, the service was led by Padre Darren Middleton and included wreaths being laid and Bill Bishop sounding the Last Post. Following the service, the parade re-formed and marched through the town to a reception at the Watersports Centre.
The weekend's events were overseen by 87-year-old Eric Dawkins, former town clerk and South West representative of the St Nazaire Society, who said: "It was fantastic, everyone said it was the best one ever. We had a really massive turn out. There were 23 wreaths laid - that seems to increase each year.
"The presentation to Jen was very moving. She said that Bill had said the week before his death that he might be able to manage without his stick when he came to Falmouth."
Mr Dawkins also paid tribute to the work of the Falmouth Town Council trio of Emily Middleditch, Val Rogers and Lee Mitchell who worked with him in organising the weekend's events. "They are a fantastic team and together they brought about a fantastic parade," he said.