A WAR veteran from Bridgwater has been awarded the Legion D’honneur for his services fighting for his country just days before he died.

Maurice Stone who lived at The Old Vicarage care home and was given the award for his bravery during the Second World War.

Having been presented with the award on Thursday, January 9, Maurice died of pneumonia on Saturday, January 11.

When Maurice joined the Armoured Division of the Coldstream Guards, and trained to serve and fight as part of the crew of a Churchill tank, little did he know what dangers and adventures were in store.

In June 1944 he crossed the channel as part of the invasion forces massing there and landed on the beaches of Normandy on or around D Day.

From Normandy he and his colleagues fought their way across France, Belgium and the Netherlands. 

In September 1944 he and his colleagues were ordered to advance from Brussels to Holland to take part in the ill-fated and badly organised Operation Market Garden that culminated in The Battle For The Bridges at Arnhem.

On the way to Arnhem the tank stopped for the night just south of the bridges to rest and prepare for the forthcoming battle. 

Maurice sustained a serious head injury and was unable to continue. 

Medical facilities were overwhelmed and overstretched such were the heavy casualties sustained by both sides in the fighting. 

Maurice was treated by the medical corps, then in a show of gratitude the newly liberated villagers of Helmond took him in and nursed him.

Maurice never forgot their kindness and generosity and when he returned to England and took up his trade as a carpenter, he built his own house on Willoughby Road in Bridgwater and named it Helmond.

The residents of Helmond and Maurice stayed in touch over the years and there were many visits and reunions. 

Mr Stone was aged 99 when he died.