British hero who seized key German port during World War II is honoured ... by Germany





A soldier who seized a key German port during World War II has become the first Englishman to be given the freedom of a city - in Germany.

Major Tony Hibbert, 92, led a team of 500 commandos as part of Operation Eclipse to take Kiel in May, 1945.

The men secured the port which led to the surrender of a large German garrison and stopped Kiel falling into Soviet hands.

It also allowed the Allied forces to secure the whole of Denmark and seize all the Nazis there.

Major Hibbert, of Falmouth, Cornwall, has now been awarded the Great Seal of Kiel for his part in the vital mission.

He said: 'This honour is one of the most important things in my life. Any of us who fought through five years of war were only too pleased get the peace going.

'I gather I am the first Englishman to receive it and the fact that I've received it for when I was fighting an action in the war against the Germans, I think it means so much.

'I never expected any particular 'thank you' from them, so this is beyond belief. It means a lot.'

Operation Eclipse's success meant the Western Allies captured a swathe of Germany's Baltic coast as the Soviet Union marched on central Europe.

It involved Major Hibbert's team operating deep behind enemy lines to seize the port, which then forced the surrender of the larger garrison.

The major - who has also been awarded the Military Cross - said he was on crutches at the time of the action because he had suffered an injury.

The award was presented to him at his home by Angela Spatz, the Honorary Consul for Germany in Devon and Cornwall.

She said: 'It was a great pleasure to present the award on behalf of the citizens of Kiel. He certainly saved many lives on both sides....

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