TRIBUTES have been paid to a 91-year-old veteran who was awarded France’s highest decoration for his bravery.

Captain Brian McManus died at St Kentigern Hospice at St Asaph on Thursday, August 16.

Captain McManus, who had a long career in the Merchant Navy, was presented with the Legion d'Honneur in 2017 for his part in the liberation of France.

The father to Lynda and Farrell and grandfather to three grandchildren and three great grandchildren, was married to the late Hazel.

Captain McManus lived in Rhyl until 1980, where he moved to a bungalow in Kinmel Bay.

He attended St Mary's Convent on Russell Road and then, Epworth College - now Dewi Sant - as a boarder.

He joined Cunard White Star as an apprentice and embarked aboard the Queen Elizabeth at Greenock on Easter Monday 1944. He disembarked at Pier 90 in New York and after three nights, in Hotel Belvedere, joined the Liberty ship Samholt. She was the first Liberty under the Red Ensign.

Daughter Lynda Newsome said: "As I understand it, Samholt supplied ammunition to the troops during the Normandy Landings - this was live and kept on deck. He was 17 at the time.

"If you were in the army, you went to war when you were 18 but in the Navy, you followed your ship. The pay was 30 shillings a week plus cigarettes and chocolate. He used to swap the cigarettes for chocolate."

Lynda said her father didn't really speak about his time on Samholt until he received his medal.

She added: "He always looked forward to D-Day reunions and spoke warmly of the comradeship of his colleagues. It was the highlight of his year."

Captain McManus was presented his medal during a moving ceremony at The Blind Veterans Centre in Llandudno.

Lynda added: "His family were extremely proud of him.

"My father was a humble man. When he heard he had been awarded the medal by the French Government, he wasn’t sure if he should accept it. When he thought about it he said 'well Rod Stewart is a Sir so I will accept it.'

"He was immensely proud of being a veteran and was, for many years, treasurer of the branch of The Normandy Veterans. He was the youngest and he took great pleasure in organising regular lunches and days out until the standard was finally laid up, Christmas 2014."

For many years, Captain McManus sailed out of Liverpool on ships of the Elder Dempster Fleet, he spent two years in the Suez Canal and retired shortly after his 60th birthday.

He also spent time as captain of the world's biggest container ship and aboard one of the ships trapped in The Great Bitter Lakes after the six day war.

The once keen cyclist, amateur photographer and writer, embraced technology.

He volunteered for a number of years at Rhyl RNLI Lifeboat as press officer and also as deputy launching authority, using his maritime knowledge in authorising the launch of the lifeboats.

After he retired, he would call into the station on his bike. Flags at Rhyl Lifeboat Station and Rhyl the Rhyl Lifeboat memorial are flying at half mast in his memory.

Lynda added: "My father enjoyed his time as part of the lifeboat team.The sea was in his blood.

"He was from a generation that never complained. He was sociable and well liked, he could tell a good story and was able to converse with anyone.

"He was a walking history of Rhyl. He would recall of events people and places - he never ceased to amaze me."

Captain McManus's funeral will take on Wednesday, August 29 at St Mary's Catholic Church in Rhyl at 11.15am. A service at St Asaph Crematorium will follow at 1pm.