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Born in Castleton, where he lived for most of his long life, Mr Lawton served on HMS Orion, which helped rescue more than 1,000 soldiers from the Mediterranean island in May 1941, but not without great loss to the ship's company.

He died in his sleep last weekend while on holiday in the Forest of Dean, where he lived for a few years as a child.

Fortunately, Mr Lawton survived but many of shipmates did not. He said later every man on board still alive had lost at least one good mate.

He returned to his job at David Bridge Engineering in Castleton now Farrel Bridge where he rose through the ranks to become fitting shop superintendent, making frequent trips to the Eastern Bloc, particularly Yugoslavia, Poland and Czechoslovakia.

"We were attacked by high level bombers and Stuka dive bombers which came Air Max 90 Grey And White

Mr Lawton known as Chas to his shipmates was demobbed in December 1955.

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"The captain was hit and died soon afterwards. Then, at 10am, a single Stuka streaked out of the sun. It was too quick for the gunners to take aim. Then a flash, a sudden black out and an eerie silence as all machinery stopped told its own story. An armour piercing bomb had penetrated the bridge, passing through every deck below and exploded in the 4in magazine not far from where I was ferrying cordite."

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Away from work, Mr Lawton, who lived in Alder Road, was a keen gardener and supporter of Castleton Moor Cricket Club and Rochdale and Oldham Athletic football clubs.

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"It was hell. Our ship was hit twice. One shell fell through six decks before exploding. By the time we reached safety, 260 on board were dead and another 300 injured.

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His funeral takes place at St Martin's Church, Castleton, on Friday at noon, followed by committal at Rochdale Crematorium at 1pm.

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Day hero Frank was inspirational old salt

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Many years later, he was to recall what happened on that fateful day.

The ship limped slowly back to Alexandria in Egypt, where the bodies were taken off and then sailed to San Francisco for repairs. It was there that Mr Lawton met Winston Churchill.

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"We had been in a restaurant called the Omar Khayam as guests of the US Navy at a thanksgiving dinner when Churchill arrived.

OLD salt Frank Lawton, a survivor of the Battle of Crete and later a chief petty officer on the ship which reputedly fired the first shot at the D Day landings, has died at the age of 86.

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Mr Lawton had joined the Orion in March 1940 after enlisting in the Royal Navy on 4 September, 1939 the day after war broke out.

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A total of 112 sailors were killed, along with 150 soldiers, when the ship was bombed in one of the most heroic rescue operations of the Second World War.

"The order came down from the bridge 'prepare to fire'. Someone misheard it and fired. Anyway that's the way the story went."

was there, but he was obviously the centre of the attention for all the Royal Navy lads that night," Mr Lawton would later write in his memoirs.

in law Lena, a member of the Swedish pop group Abba's backing band and grandson Martin.

He served on eight ships, including another stint on HMS Orion at the D Day landings, where recent evidence suggests his light cruiser fired the first shot. Only weeks before Nike Air Max 90 Ultra Moire Iridescent he died he told friends the shot had been a mistake.

streaking out of the sun. Ammunition parties dashed to and from the hoists to keep up with the never ending demand. Then the Orion was hit. Our A turret was blown to bits and the gun barrels of the B turret were bent upwards by the force of the explosion.

His wife Mary died in 1990. He is survived by his sons, Douglas and Gordon, daughter Air Max 90 High Top White

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