Blackpool war hero Jim dies, aged 93

Jim Baker pictured during a visit  to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard ahead of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day campaign in 2014
Jim Baker pictured during a visit to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard ahead of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day campaign in 2014
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A D-Day veteran who was one of Blackpool’s most highly decorated war heroes has died after a short illness.

Tributes have been paid to ex-Royal Marine Jim Baker who died peacefully with his family around him earlier today, aged 93, at the Blesma Home in South Shore where he was being cared for.

He took part in the first wave of landings in Normandy in 1944 when his small assault boat was the only survivor out of a flotilla of 24.

Despite being badly injured by a mortar explosion, he want on to do 22 more landings.

During his later years he led many of the commemorations in Blackpool and was a firm fixture at the annual Remembrance Day service at the town’s cenotaph.

He was born in Blackpool and brought up in Marton.

An air cadet with 177 Squadron as a youngster, Mr Baker joined the Royal Marines and made 23 landings on Omaha beach.

Speaking to The Gazette in 2010, he recalled escorting supply vessels carrying live explosives and going below deck one day then feeling “the ship jump out of the water.”

He was married to his wife May for many years until her death, and the couple had two children Paul and Shelly, and several grandchildren.

Mr Baker’s zest for life continued into his eighties, appearing on TV show Secret Millionaire in 2010, and taking part in a zip wire stunt from the top of the Imperial War Museum in Manchester when he was 86 to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

See tomorrow’s Gazette for full coverage.