THE community came together to say farewell to a war hero involved in the D-Day landings.

Charles Benford of Admiral Court Care Home, Leigh, died just a month after celebrating his 100th birthday.

He was a devoted Christian and member of Church of St James The Great in Leigh and a service was held at the church last week/

The service was attended by John Lamb, mayor of Southend, standard bearers from branches of the Royal British Legion and the Normandy Veterans Association, representatives from the Leigh Orpheus Male Voice Choir and a large congregation of church parishioners.

His son, John Benford, 68, from Leigh paid tribute to his father.

He said: “My dad was a wonderful father. He was brought up in a different age, in the 1920s and was a disciplinarian, but was fair and very loving.

“He had his military background and was treasurer for Church of St James The Great in Leigh for 49 years.

“The church played a big part in his life, probably more than the armed services.

“He also sang with the Leigh Orpheus Male Voice Choir for many years and loved reading books.

“Family was very important to my father, and he has two children, ten grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

“He started out as a butchers assistant at the age of about 11, as his grandfather was a butcher.

“He also worked for the Co-op and Southend Council in various departments over the years.”

Charles’ daughter Sandra Lane said: “I feel very proud and humbled that so many people – Anglian Regiment; British Legion with standard bearers; Leigh Orpheus choir; church friends; Sir David Amess; the Mayor and Mayoress, should come for dad’s funeral.”

Charles was awarded various medals for his time in the armed services including the Legion D’Honneur, from the French Government.

He served as an army sergeant in the Second World War.

He reported for duty with the 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.