MEET John Cross, a D-Day veteran who has just celebrated his 100th birthday.

His family and friends gathered for a party on February 14 at Redwalls Nursing Home in Sandiway, where he resides.

It was a celebration perfectly fit for the war hero, who was awarded France’s highest military medal for his involvement in the D-Day operation.

Born in 1923 in Barnton, John attended Barnton Primary School before moving to Winnington Primary School and joining Winnington Scouts.

John’s family explained: “He earned his King’s Scout badge – the highest award in Scouting – and was presented this by King George VI at Windsor Castle where he also saw the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret playing in the gardens.”

This achievement particularly impressed pupils at Sandiway Primary School who made John a birthday card and visited him on his special day.

Northwich Guardian: Sandiway Primary School pupils made John a 100th birthday cardSandiway Primary School pupils made John a 100th birthday card (Image: Newsquest)

John enlisted for the navy in the Second World War when he was only 17, having lied about his age, and was involved in the D-Day Landings of 1944.

His family said: “He was required to sign the Official Secrets Act due to the sensitivity around the development of the ‘swimming tanks’, one of the allies’ secret weapons which he would be involved in landing onto Juno Beach on June 6.

“A great amount of training for this operation was undertaken in Scotland."

A leading seaman, John’s role was as coxswain of the landing craft LCT422, which transported up to four DD tanks (swimming tanks) together with their crew, from the 1st Canadian Armoured Division.

LCT422 was part of the 4th Flotilla, and it was John’s responsibility, under heavy bombardment, to steer the craft to Juno Beach, allowing the release of the tanks.

During leave in 1944, John met his wife Edith at a Valentine’s Day dance and they married two years later on August 31, 1946, and set up home in Moulton.

Northwich Guardian: John on his birthday, and photographs from his lifeJohn on his birthday, and photographs from his life (Image: Newsquest)

Following discharge from the navy, he went to work for Imperial Chemical Industries.

In 2016, he was awarded France’s highest military honour to mark his instalment as a Chevalier in the French Legion d’honneur.

“I was delighted, proud and honoured to be awarded the prestigious medal by the French government,” John previously said.

John always retained his passion in woodwork, after working in a joinery company when he first left school, keeping it as a much-loved hobby, as well as gardening and later taking up golf.

“He built himself his own Mirror dingy and sailed it on Winsford Flashes,” his family added.

“He loved cruises.

“Together with Edith he went on numerous cruises to many parts of the world.

“In 2019, to celebrate the 75th D-Day anniversary, he joined the Royal British Legion cruise to Normandy which took part in the national celebrations in Portsmouth and Normandy.”

John's 100th birthday was complete with a birthday cake, balloons, food and drink, and entertainment provided by Lostock Ukes.

Northwich Guardian: John's medals, birthday cake and letter from the KingJohn's medals, birthday cake and letter from the King (Image: Newsquest)