A WAR veteran who was bestowed with the highest honour for his services in the Second World War has died aged 96.

Harold Holiday, from Ramsbottom, was awarded the Legion D’Honneur, France’s highest military honour, in November 2016.

His daughter has paid tribute to her “kind and gentle” father who died on Sunday following a heart attack.

Daughter Gillian Hoar said: “He was happy and healthy, independent and autonomous right until the end, which is all we could ask for.

“He was one of life’s old-fashioned gentlemen.”

Mr Holiday, was part of the Royal Corp of Signals and when he landed he had to make his way to Ghent to create an international telephone exchange. He and another signalman slept inside the exchange overnight until they were successful in re-establishing communications between the frontline and those back home.

He had begun serving aged 21, after leaving Burnage High School, but forgot to mark the occasion while on board a ship in the Channel, waiting to land on Gold Beach. His family therefore held a 21st celebration for him on his 91st birthday.

Serving for two-and-a-half years, Mr Holiday was invalided out of the Army after becoming ill. He then began working for Manchester Corporation Transport, and later within the steel industry.

It was in 1952 that Mr Holiday met Elizabeth at a fortnightly country dancing event at the YMCA in Bury. The couple immediately hit it off due to their shared interest in music and were married at Bury Parish Church one year later.

They celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary on August 22 this year.

Much of their leisure time during married life was spent walking in the Lake District. They were committed church-goers, and members of the Federation of Recorded Music Societies. Mr Holiday was also very active within Ramsbottom Probus Club.

Later, the couple became wardens for the Caravan Club.

Mrs Hoar said: “When dad was in his 60s, they sold their house and bought a fancy caravan and went off travelling. They spent the summers on the Caravan Club sites around the country, then each winter they drove to the Algarve in Portugal. They did that for 10 years, until dad was in his 70s. They have had a wonderful life.

"We are a very close family, we did everything together.”

In December last year, Mr Holiday moved into Lavender Hills Care Home, Ramsbottom.

Mrs Hoar added: “We are incredibly proud of dad and I know that he will be fondly remembered by many.”

Mr Holiday leaves his wife, daughter, son Ian, four grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

His funeral service will be held at Radcliffe Crematorium on Thursday, September 12, at 2.30pm. Family flowers only, by request. Donations can be made to the British Heart Foundation.