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Tributes to 100-year-old D-Day veteran who 'took everything in his stride'

PUBLISHED: 08:26 23 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:16 23 October 2019

Ken Mason, left, at the Assembly House in Norwich, in 2017, at a celebratory event for his Legion d'Honneur medal. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Ken Mason, left, at the Assembly House in Norwich, in 2017, at a celebratory event for his Legion d'Honneur medal. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

A former Royal Norfolk Regiment soldier and D-Day veteran has died.

Norfolk Regiment veteran Ken Mason pictured in 2014. Picture: Denise BradleyNorfolk Regiment veteran Ken Mason pictured in 2014. Picture: Denise Bradley

Kenneth Mason, 100, from Martin Close in Sprowston, landed on Sword Beach in Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944 when he was just 21 and watched his comrades die around him.

He made it through France without injury but ended up being injured in the Netherlands and was sent home.

Ken Mason (right) pictured with other Norfolk Regiment veterans in Normany in 2014. He is standing with, from left, Jim King and Bill Holden. Picture: Denise BradleyKen Mason (right) pictured with other Norfolk Regiment veterans in Normany in 2014. He is standing with, from left, Jim King and Bill Holden. Picture: Denise Bradley

Mr Mason, known as Ken, was demobbed in 1946 and went on to work at the former Rowntree Mackintosh's chocolate factory in Norwich, where he made Rolo sweets and worked until his retirement.

It was there that he met his wife Julie, who died in 2015.

D-Day veteran Ken Mason receiving his Legion d'Honneur medal in 2016. Photo : Steve AdamsD-Day veteran Ken Mason receiving his Legion d'Honneur medal in 2016. Photo : Steve Adams

Mr Mason travelled to Normandy for many years with other D-Day veterans and was awarded the Legion d'Honneur in 2016 - France's highest honour for bravery.

His nephew, Nigel Mason, 58, from Meadow Close in Hellesdon, said: "Ken would talk about his army career with anybody and everybody. He would talk about it with great pride. As a child you would listen in awe.

D-Day veterans, including Ken Mason, from the 1st Batallion Royal Norfolk Regiment at the special ceremony at Norwich City Hall to receive  Legion d'Honneurs in 2016. Left to right Victor Keech, Ken Mason, David Johnson and Bill Holden. Photo : Steve AdamsD-Day veterans, including Ken Mason, from the 1st Batallion Royal Norfolk Regiment at the special ceremony at Norwich City Hall to receive Legion d'Honneurs in 2016. Left to right Victor Keech, Ken Mason, David Johnson and Bill Holden. Photo : Steve Adams

"He was very proud of his Legion d'Honneur medal.

"Up until a few months ago he went the Royal Norfolk Regiment army meetings in Norwich."

Ken Mason pictured in 2016 at the book launch of Courage, Honour, Friendship, which he helped to write as a D-Day veteran. Picture: ANTONY KELLYKen Mason pictured in 2016 at the book launch of Courage, Honour, Friendship, which he helped to write as a D-Day veteran. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Such was his pride in his regiment, he enjoyed visiting the former home of the Royal Norfolk Regiment, which became the Royal Anglian Regiment, at the former Britannia Barracks in Norwich.

He also co-wrote a book on the role of the 1st Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment on D-Day of the regiment called Courage, Honour, Friendship in 2016, presented to the Duchess of Cornwall at the Royal Norfolk Show.

Mr Mason said that was a particular highlight for his 
uncle.

He added: "Ken took everything in his stride. He lived life to the full and used to go on holidays all over the world. He used to say that getting to 100 was in his genes."

He celebrated the milestone last year with two parties - one with his family and the other with his army friends.

Mr Mason was born and grew up in Whissonsett, in mid-Norfolk, and would have followed in his father's footsteps as a farm worker if he had not joined the army.

As well as travel, Mr Mason, who never had children but loved being with his family, adored gardening and Arsenal Football Club.

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