D-Day hero who survived horrific hammer attack dies aged 101

The last surviving member of a secret submarine mission ahead of D-Day has died at the age of 101.

Taunton war hero Jim Booth helped prepare for the invasion by spying on the beaches of Normandy.

In later life, he survived a horrific hammer attack at his home. The culprit was sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempted murder.

As a young sub-lieutenant, he was part of a team called the Combined Operations Pilotage and Reconnaissance Parties (COPP). Their job was to travel in submarines across the English Channel to spy on the beaches of Normandy, find the best landing spots and guide in the crafts for the D-Day invasion itself.

The crew were key for improving invasion techniques and collecting details of the beaches.

Speaking to ITV News in 2019, Mr Booth said he was not aware of how significant their role or the invasion itself was at the time.

"I don’t think any were," he said. "We knew we were going to invade but I suppose we sort-of pictured that it was just a few ships and of course we had no idea of the size of the thing.

"Suddenly the aircraft came down. Then another silence but not for very long because then the mist came, and this is of course the day I’ll never forget, suddenly there it was, I mean just unbelievable. The world was alive with ships. Our ships by the thousand – advancing."

Jim Booth had a distinguished military career during and after WWII Credit: Family photograph

Jim joined the Royal Navy at 18 and served during World War Two. After D-Day, his war continued. While people were celebrating VE Day at home on 8 May 1945 he was in Burma, fighting the Japanese behind enemy lines.

After leaving the military, Mr Booth farmed for 30 years in Devon.

In later life Jim was involved with many groups in his home town of Taunton and enjoyed exercise - he was seen running or riding his bicycle around the town well into his 90s. He also had a massive passion for music, volunteering to play the organ at Taunton School, and was a regular churchgoer.

In 2015 he made the headlines after dancing with the future Queen Consort, then Duchess of Cornwall, at a VJ Day commemoration.

In 2017, at the age of 96, Jim was the victim of a vicious hammer attack at his home. The subsequent trial saw his attacker found guilty of attempted murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

During that time, his family described him as “an exceptional person of whom we are all immensely proud".

They said: "He is the head of the family, a dearly loved father to his four children and adored by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to whom he’s simply known as "The Legend". He is, and always has been, our own family hero."

In 2020, Jim was awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year's Honours list for services to charity and the community.