Hero gets highest honour for his services in France

Frederick Parker who has received the Croix de Guerre medal.
Frederick Parker who has received the Croix de Guerre medal.

A local hero, who made front page headlines in the Skegness Standard 76 years ago after rescuing a drowning dog from a lake, has received one of the highest honours for his services after the Second World War.

Frederick Parker has been awarded the Croix de Guerre for helping to get a French air base at Fountainebleu up and running again after it had been wiped out in the conflict.

Mr Parker, 94, spent 25 years in France after serving there during the war in the RAF. Now living in a care home in Leicester, but still with family in the Skegness area, he said: “I went down to breakfast and there was an oblong box on the table.

“I couldn’t believe it when I opened it and saw the Croix de Guerre. It’s the highest honour awarded to a civilian. If I still lived there I would never have to pay travel on the trains. There are so many benefits. That’s why I am so proud.”

Mr Parker’s life has been one full of adventure. While living in France, where he married his first wife, he became a skipper of yachts owned by stars such as Errol Flynn and also worked for Greek shipping magnet Aristotle Onassis.

He said: “Actors used to come to Caines to let their hair down. When I was based in Monte Carlo, Mr Onassis used to ask me to take his wife Christina there.”

In another adventure, he stowed away on one of Mr Onassis’ ships across the Atlantic and went trekking across America.

He returned to the UK following the death of his wife from cancer, but later married Barbara Parker in 1980 at Leicester Town Hall.

He says he still has fond memories of Skegness.

He said: “I’ll never forget the day I saved the dog. It was struggling in reeds and would have drowned if I hadn’t gone in. I got into trouble when I went home for getting my suit wet but the story went in the paper.”

After being awarded the medal, daughter Laura Deeming believes it is time he made the headlines again. She said: “There are still family and people in the town who know him. He’s had such an amazing life I’m sure they would like to know how he is doing.

“We feel very proud of him as he is the only one out of 2,000 men who served to get this medal.

“It would be great to give him 15 minutes of fame as he’s a very humble man.”