D-Day Veteran Hector Duff says he is ‘honoured and humbled’ to have been named as the recipient of this year’s Tynwald Honour.
He will be presented with the island’s highest accolade on Tynwald Day and says he will dedicate it to the memory of the men whose names appear on the war memorial at St John’s.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings.
Speaking from his home in Ballachurry Avenue, Onchan, the 94-year-old said: ‘I’m honoured and humbled really. I never thought anything like that would happen but it has.
‘I’m going to be presented with it at Tynwald Day near the war memorial that means so much to me. I’m going to dedicate it to the names of the men who appear on there who are so often forgotten. We owed them a debt that will never be repaid.’
Manxman Hector has provided a personal account of his memories of Operation Overlord in the text accompanying Isle of Man Stamps and Coin’s new issue of stamps commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
The Normandy Veterans Association will disband this year and lay up its National Standard at a service at St Margaret’s Church, in the grounds of Westminster Abbey. Hector, one of only nine or 10 surviving members in the island, has been invited to that service but says the local branch will continue as a social club.
Over the next fortnight, he will be back visiting St Ninian’s High School to talk to students about his wartime experiences. He said: ‘Kids tell me they learn more rather than reading about it in a text book. I’m very fortunate to be able to do what I do.’
Tynwald next week will be asked to approve the Tynwald Honour being conferred on Mr Duff, making him the eighth person to receive the award. The report by the Tynwald Honours Committee states: ‘Hector Duff has given his whole life to public service in conflict and in peacetime. He is an example to us all.’
Born in Sulby in October 1919, Hector was called up at 19 and served with the 7th Armoured Division – the Desert Rats – from 1940-1945. He saw service in North Africa then in June 1944, landed in Normandy on the afternoon of D-Day. He was in Germany when the war ended, taking part in the Victory Parade in Berlin.
He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery. Returning to the island, Hector resumed his job on the railway then had 30-year career with the police.