A huge and sincere congratulations go to Donald Mantell (33-42) who has recently been awarded the Chevalier de Legion dHonneur by the French Ambassador in London in recognition of the part that he played in the Liberation of France during the Second World War.
Donald left School in 1942, where he had been Deputy Head, Head of Pemberley and Captain of Boats and after a short war-time course at Queens University Belfast went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Commissioned into the East Riding Yeomanry, an armoured regiment, and after arduous training in swimming DD tanks he landed with them on the morning of D-Day itself, 6th June 1944, as a 20 year old Second Lieutenant. The ERY were part of 27th Independent Armoured Brigade, who were in support of 3 Div, and landed on Sword Beach at Lion sur Mer. Their immediate objective was Caen but this turned out to be the prolonged and bitter Battle of Normandy. He fought with the ERY through North West Europe, being Mentioned in Despatches, and having fought their way across France, Holland and Belgium, the regiment took part in crossing of the Rhine and were already in Northern Germany by the end of the war.
After the war Donald received a Regular Commission in the 16th/5th Queens Royal Lancers and served in Egypt, Libya, Singapore and the UK. Following his retirement he became Bursar of Bedford School and was in post during, and after, the Great Hall Fire of Saturday 3rd March, 1979 – when, famously, not a single lesson was lost as temporary buildings had been procured and delivered by the Monday morning.
His brother, Bruce Mantell (32-37) had also been Captain of Boats and also served in a Yeomanry Regiment, the County of London, with whom he fought in North Africa before also taking part in the invasion of Normandy.