A Beckenham war hero who liberated a French town in World War II was finally laid to rest.

Harry Verlander, 89, from Eden Park Road, passed away last month after a highly decorated military career.

Lying about his age to join the home guard aged just 16 in 1941, he later signed up to the army the following year - still underage.

Hampered by his glasses, he finally got his teeth into some action when he volunteered for a post seeking wireless operators - involving parachuting.

Part of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) Jedburgh teams, codenamed Sligo he parachuted into France with Team Harrold on July 15 1944, to aid French resistance.

Helping liberate the town of Niort he was awarded the Croix de Guerre, the equivalent of the British Military Cross, and he was made a Chevalier d'Honneur de la Ville de Niort on the 50th anniversary of the liberation.

His heroism has never been forgotten there, and at his funeral on Tuesday (April 28) the Mayor of Niort, Jerome Baloge, sent a letter remembering his bravery.

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Harry in service

He said: "He is one of the heroes who helped the liberation of our country, France, and participated in activities that helped crush the Nazis during the Second World War."

Senior Tory Colonel Bob Stewart also read a eulogy at the funeral, thanking his late friend for all he did for his country.

His widow Liz Verlander, 66, said: “We met in 1990 and went ballroom dancing, we married in 1993.

“I consider it a great privilege to have been his wife.

“There were so many people at his funeral, it was quite overwhelming.

“We were very touched by the French mayor saying we’ll never forget him, that was wonderful.

“He gave back to the community; he was a stalwart of St George’s church.

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Harry meeting Princess Anne

“He was a modest man, very gentle. He never boasted or bragged about what he had done; I remember he gave a talk and someone came up to me and asked about his medal.

“I’m his wife and I should known what he did, but all he ever told me was ‘I was there’.”

He was eventually de-mobbed in 1947, earning an impressive six medals over the years.

Some of his memorabilia is on display at the Harrington Museum, in Northampton.

MORE TOP STORIES In the following years he wrote a book about his experiences, 'My War in the SOE'.

He finally retired in 1985 after working for the  British Railways Continental Services.

After retirement he qualified as a therapist, and stood as a Liberal council candidate for Penge.

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Harry's medals