Former Mayor’s D-Day honour

Mayor Making at Winchelsea, 25/4/11.'Michael and Jo Melvin: Mayor and Mayoress of Winchelsea ENGSNL00120110426084325
Mayor Making at Winchelsea, 25/4/11.'Michael and Jo Melvin: Mayor and Mayoress of Winchelsea ENGSNL00120110426084325

Former Winchelsea Mayor Lt. Col Henry Dormer has been honoured for the part he played in the D-Day invasion of France.

He has been appointed with other WW2 veterans to the rank of ‘Chevalier in the Ordre national de la Legion d’honneur.’

Henry was commissioned in 1943 into the RA and stayed before D Day in a field just north of Northiam.

He landed on Gold Beach in Normandy shortly after D Day. His unit was initially engaged in operations east of Caen, and subsequently with the 15th Scottish infantry Division in the breakout of the Normandy bridgehead at Caumont.

Thereafter the Division fought through Northern France including at the Falaise Gap and the assault crossing of the Seine.

By VE Day the Division had reached a point east of Hamburg having been through the Low Countries and northern Germany.

After the war Henry saw operational service in Kenya, Northern Ireland and Aden.

For many years in retirement he lived in Winchelsea.

Despite a lot of searching, he has never been able to identify the field in Northiam that he was camped in prior to D Day.

Winchelsea Jurat John Spencer said: “Henry is still synonymous with the annual Winchelsea singers’ ‘Fun Evening’ acting in many different sketches. For many years he successfully wrote the script which so many of us enjoyed.

“He became a highly respected member of the Corporation and then Mayor of Winchelsea from 1995 to 1997, and all of us who know him are delighted that he with many other WW2 Veterans have been honoured in this way.”

Winchelsea is the smallest town in England to still have a Mayor and Corporation.

There has been a mayor of Winchelsea for over 700 years, with records dating back to 1295. The mayoring ceremony takes place annually on Easter Monday, and since 1665 this has been held in the Upper Court Hall. The ceremony recognises the continuing existence of the last surviving unreformed Corporation of England and Wales and comprises an Assembly of the Freemen of Winchelsea followed by the “Annual Sitting of the Hundred” the principal business of which is the installation of the Major for the coming year.

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