A WAR hero involved in the D-Day landings has celebrated his 100th birthday.

Charles Benford, of Admiral Court Care Home, Leigh, was awarded three medals for his service including the France and Germany Star. He served as an army sergeant in Second World War.

For his special day he was joined by family, Southend’s mayor John lamb and Southend West MP Sir David Amess.

Charles said: “I have had an amazing 100 years and a very special day with my family and friends to celebrate, with the Queen also sending her congratulations. I have no secret to longevity, it’s just the luck of the draw really.”

Born on July 12, 1919 in South Fambridge, he went on to live in West Ham with his grandmother and grandfather before moving to Southend, aged 11.

His grandfather taught him the butchers trade until he was called up to the army in 1939. He reported for duty with 2nd Battalion Essex Regiment (The Pompadours) at Warley Barracks on January 15 1940.

From there he served across the UK before the battalion received large drafts of men to bring it up to strength for D-Day.

The Battalion and Brigade landed on Gold Beach on D-Day June 6, 1944. Charles – then a Sergeant with a Bren Gun Carrier platoon - remembers sailing in a landing craft and from there they fought their way in land to liberate Bayeux the following day.

Thanks to Battalion’s bravery and efforts the war ended. While the war was underway, Charles began to exchange correspondence (as a pen friend) with Doreen Turvey.

Charles and Doreen married in September 1945 and later became proud parents to John and Sandra. Sadly, Doreen passed away in 2011 after 65 years of marriage. Charles has one son, one daughter, ten grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Lifestyle Leader at Admiral Court Care Home, Sarah Savidge said: “Charles has been a resident at the home for more than two years and he is much-loved by all of us here.

“I am so pleased that he had a great day, as he is our hero and thoroughly deserves it.”