War hero was ‘inspiration’ to Fylde coast

Jim Baker at a Veterans Day Service at Blackpool Cenotaph

Jim Baker at a Veterans Day Service at Blackpool Cenotaph

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D-Day veteran Jim Baker who died this week has been described as “an inspiration” to the Fylde coast ex-services community as more tributes poured in to the war hero.

Mr Baker, who had been suffering from failing health, died on Wednesday at the Blesma home for limbless veterans on Lytham Road in South Shore where he was being cared for.

Respects have been paid to the 93-year-old former Royal Marine on social media and by people from across the Fylde community.

Jack Swan, president of the Blackpool branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “Jim was an inspiration to the ex-service community on the Fylde.

“It is thanks to people like him that the area has become an established centre for ex-veterans activities.

“He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.”

Mr Baker was a Blackpool Football Club supporter, and the club tweeted it was “saddened to learn of the passing of D-Day veteran and supporter Jim Baker”.

Christine Seddon, secretary of Blackpool Supporters Trust, said: “Jim will be sadly missed and unfortunately he had only seen the demise of his club recently rather than seeing it rise from the ashes.

“It is for lifelong fans like him that we are fighting to save our club.

“We send our condolences to his family and he is a great loss to our fan base.”

Businessman Stephen Pierre, who owns the Galleon Club on Abingdon Street in Blackpool, recalled Jim attending fundraising events in support of ex-servicemen’s associations.

He said: “Jim Baker was a military man through and through.

“Even in his ripe old age he kept up his veteran spirits and supported fundraising events associated to the services. He was a credit to society and did us all proud.”

Commenting on The Gazette’s Facebook page, readers remembered Mr Baker as “a gent and a hero”.

Another said “we all wouldn’t be here today without you”.

Mr Baker was part of 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.

He was highly decorated and held the Distinguished Service Medal, one of the nation’s highest military honours.