Jim Booth, the 96 year-old man recovering in hospital from a hammer attack at his home in Taunton, had a distinguished military career. Sub-lieutenant Jim Booth was a member of the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties whose members risked their lives to gather information about proposed landing beaches and inshore waters, usually under the noses of enemy coastal defences.
Mr Booth is the only survivor of a crack 10-man team who spent five days half a mile underwater in two mini subs X-20 and X-23 before the D-Day invasion of 1944. The daring operation helped guide Allied landing craft to Sword beach instead of drifting on to jagged rocks. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French for his outstanding gallantry.
Following the success of the D-Day mission Jim was posted to the Far East to carry out further hazardous reconnaissance work along the coast of Burma, prior to its recapture. This entailed exploration of the coastal inlets, using small specialist landing craft, and sorties from two man canoes, which were launched from submarines.
After his Far East tour of duty, Jim returned to the UK to attend a parachute course, but he was then returned to the regular navy, and sent to the Mediterranean in command of a minesweeper, HMS Vallay, clearing German minefields. Before joining COPP Jim had served on the North Sea convoys.
“When you’re a young man, and part of a good team of like-minded extroverts, you just think it’s all an exciting adventure, and you never imagine that you might not survive”.
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