FAMILY and friends gathered to pay their last respects to a war veteran who achieved France’s highest honour.

There was a guard of honour as crowds packed out St Mary’s Catholic Church, Rhyl, on Thursday, August 29 for the funeral of captain Brian McManus. A service at St Asaph Crematorium followed.

Captain McManus, who had a long career in the Merchant Navy, died on Thursday, August 16 at St Kentigern Hospice.

The father to Lynda and Farrell and grandfather to three grandchildren and three great grandchildren, was married to the late Hazel. He was presented with the Legion d’Honneur for his part in the liberation of France in 2017.

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

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.

Speaking about the funeral service, daughter Lynda said: "We turned around, and the church was full. It was a beautiful service. Father [Charles] Ramsey got it spot on."

Sue Roberts - known as Susie to family - Captain McManus's sister, read the eulogy.

Lynda said: "It got an applause. It wasn't a sad service, it was a celebration of his life.

"We remembered how he loved Sidoli's Ice cream, so much so, he would go twice a day.

"There was a guard of honour at the funeral and the Union Jack flag draped over his coffin, so it was very special. The mayor came and Normandy veterans were there including lifelong friends. My father would have loved it."

The once keen cyclist and amateur photographer, who spent a number of years volunteering for the Rhyl RNLI Lifeboat as press officer and as deputy launching authority, was a former treasurer of the branch of The Normandy Veterans.

Lynda added: "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. He always looked forward to D-Day reunions and spoke warmly of the comradeship of his colleagues.

"It was the highlight of his year."