‘Greatly loved’ D-Day hero from Dorset dies aged 97

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A “greatly loved” D-Day hero who landed on Sword Beach has died at the age of 97.

Ernest Aylott, known as Ernie, was born in Clapham, south London, and joined the Royal Army Service Corps in 1942 aged 19.

He later transferred to 15 Parachute Regiment, going ashore on D-Day, June 6 in 1944.

Once on Sword Beach, Mr Aylott drove lorries loaded with ammunition to supply the front line through France until the end of the war.

Ernest Aylott 9.9.1923- 4.7.2021A couple of days ago, Ernie Aylott, our first SSAFA recipient of the Legion d'honneur…

Posted by SSAFA Dorset on Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Mr Aylott was demobbed in 1946 and returned to south London, where he joined the building trade and worked on houses bombed during the Blitz.

He later worked at the Tate Gallery as an attendant and chauffeur.

In 1947, Mr Aylott met wife Joan. They had two sons and later retired to Blandford, Dorset.

Nicholas Bate, Dorset caseworker for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, paid tribute to Mr Aylott and his service.

“Ernie had a fantastic war record and it was a privilege for us to be able to help him obtain his well-earned campaign medals and Legion d’Honneur,” he said.

“Ernie was a lovely man with an excellent sense of humour and strong values, and he was very proud of his service in the Second World War.

“He was a devoted family man and greatly loved by his wife Joan and sons Russell and Glen.”

Ernie Aylott at a reception when he received his wartime campaign medals
Ernie Aylott at a reception when he received his wartime campaign medals (SSAFA/PA)

As a D-Day veteran, Mr Aylott was entitled to the French Legion d’Honneur, as well as the 1939-1945 Star, the France and Germany Star and his 1939-1945 War medals for the rest of his wartime service.

However, his family contacted SSAFA to explain that he had never received his medals and Mr Bate contacted the Ministry of Defence to obtain them on his behalf.

Mr Bate also replaced Mr Aylott’s Parachute Regiment beret and badge, which he had lost in Normandy.

Mr Aylott was presented with the campaign and war medal by Angus Campbell, Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, at Blandford Camp in 2016.

He received his Legion d’Honneur in a small ceremony at his home last year, with Mr Bate reading the official French Government citation in English.

Mr Aylott died on July 4.

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