A full military funeral is set to honour one of west Cumbria’s last remaining Normandy war veterans who has died aged 96.

Seaton-born Joseph Leo Smith, known as Leo, will receive the honour, in recognition of his service in World War Two.

Mr Smith died peacefully last week in a nursing home in Hertfordshire but he spent the majority of his life in west Cumbria in Seaton, Greysouthen and Little Clifton, near Workington, where he was a well-known figure.

Ian Fisher, chairman of Bransty Royal British Legion, said: “Leo was part of the D-Day landings on the Normandy beaches where so many gave their lives for the freedom we now share today. Heroes one and all, we will never forget those that gave so much, RIP Leo.”

Historian, Joseph Ritson knew Leo well and paid his own tribute.

He said: “As a local student and researcher of WW2 and the Normandy campaign I got to know Leo and his wife Mary (nee Cowman) and attended several anniversaries with them and their family over a number of years. “Leo was a fine gentleman and always willing to help with research enquiries about the war.”

Mr Smith was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur in 2016 from the French Government for his bravery and has 10 other medals including two Battle for Britain Medals, 1939-45 Star, France and German Star, Normandy Campaign Medal, Battle of Bulge Veteran Medal and the Military Order of the Ardennes Grand Cross and Homage and two Belgium Medals.

A military funeral service will be held at St Luke’s Church, Chapel Brow, at 12.15pm on Friday, followed by burial at St Bridget’s Church, Brigham, at 1pm, where Mr and Mrs Smith were married. Standard bearers will be in attendance and the last post will be played on the bugle.

Mr Smith enlisted in the army two days before his 18th birthday on January 22, 1942, did his training and was transferred as a corporal to The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in Filey.

He and played an important part in the D-Day landings, landing at Arromanche Gold Beach, which was instrumental in the liberation of Bayeaux and Caen.

He would later say he saw many atrocities, lost many comrades and didn’t know how he survived. He spent five years in the army eventually getting demobbed on March 9 1947.

Mr Smith leaves his wife Mary, daughter Jennifer Walker and son-in-law Les Walker, grandchildren Mark, Melissa and Philip and three great grandchildren Leo, Maggie and Harvey.