A WAR veteran has been awarded France's highest military honour for his role in the D-Day landings.

Brightlingsea resident George Ilsley, 97, was presented with the Ordre national de la Legion d'honneur at the town's Royal British Legion hall, where he has been a member for many years.

Mr Illsley first signed up to the Army in 1941 at the age of 18, two years after the start of the Second World World.

Joining the infantry, he was posted to Worcestershire for training before being deployed to Kirbrit, El Dabra and Alexandria in Egypt.

After returning home in 1943 he was soon convinced to sign up for his parachute training at Ringway Training School.

He joined the 13th (Lancashire) Parachute Battalion and as part of the 6th Airborne Division flew over from Dorset to take part in the invasion of Normandy.

On June 6, 1944, Mr Illsley and his fellow Paras jumped into France near the village of Ranville - the first place to be liberated by Allied Forces.

He landed close to the famous Pegasus Bridge where he his unit helped secure the vital route for the Allies.

After around a month fighting in northern France he returned to Britain where he was re-assigned to the 1st Airborne Division.

He was next deployed to HQ defence at the famous Hartenstein Hotel in Oosterbeek, The Netherlands, during Operation Market Garden.

The war hero ended his service in the Royal Irish Fusiliers until he was demobbed in 1946.

The Legion d'honneur is the highest French order of merit for military service.

It is normally reserved for French citizens, but many British veterans who helped liberate our European neighbour during the Second World War have received the honour.

Spud Murphy helped organised Mr Illsley's medal presentation at the Sydney Street legion hall.

In a speech Mr Murphy said: "Many of you have come to know George over the years through the legion or on visits to the battlefields of France and Belgium.

"He is a humble and very ordinary person and did not want any fuss made about him receiving this award. His son and myself had grander things in the pipeline.

"Once he found out he was insistent he only wanted it kept low key and held at the legion amongst family and friends who had spent time with him visiting the battlefields.

"That is the sort of person George is - he isn't into pomp and ceremony so we had to respect his wishes.

"As he will say 'I'm not the hero, all the heroes are still on the battlefields in France and Belgium'".