TRIBUTES have been paid to Oxfordshire D-Day veteran Vernon Jones, who has died aged 94.

Members of the Oxford branch of the Royal Green Jackets Association said they were ‘devastated’ by Mr Jones’ death on Easter Sunday.

In 2016 Mr Jones, from Steventon, near Abingdon, gathered with other Normandy veterans at Oxford Town Hall to receive the Legion d’Honneur, the highest military accolade in France.

It brought back memories of 1944, when he was an anti-tank gunner in the 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, landing on Gold Beach for the D-Day landings. He had previously served in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

Roy Bailey, 81, a member of the Oxford branch of the Royal Green Jackets Association, said: “We were all devastated when we heard Vernon had died - he was such a lively chap for his age.

“He loved playing bowls and after a knee operation he went back to playing.

“He read out the names at the Turning the Pages ceremonies and visited his local The North Star.”

Mr Bailey said Mr Jones leaves his wife Hilda, brother Bryn and two other siblings.

In 2013 Mr Jones, who was born in South Wales, recalled how he took part in the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, just after his 21st birthday.

Instead of celebrating with friends he was crossing the English Channel with thousands of others ready to storm the beaches of Normandy.

He said in 2013: “I was very apprehensive, like everyone else.

“We landed at breakfast time but I could not eat anything that morning.

“It was very nerve-wracking. I was too young to die.”

Mr Jones was part of the second landing team and was tasked with unloading equipment as his colleagues fought to take the beachhead.

He added: “We landed in the exact spot we had trained to land for three years. But the beach had every obstacle you could think of and there was only just enough room for us to land.”

Mr Jones was brought up in South Wales but moved to Abingdon with his family in 1931. He joined the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, based at Cowley Barracks, before joining 2nd Battalion, The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, which took part in the Normandy landings.

Following D-Day Mr Jones fought across France, Belgium and Holland and into Germany but was injured in February 1945. The funeral will take place on Tuesday at 3pm at St Michael and All Angels church, Steventon.