A ROYAL Marine who waded onto Gold Beach on D-Day after his landing craft hit an obstacle and sank has received France’s highest military honour.

Bill Waite, 91, of Tang Hall, has been awarded the Légion d’Honneur some three years after former French president Francois Hollande promised the medal to all surviving veterans of the Normandy campaign of 1944.

Bill told how, as an 18-year-old, he was taking a team of medics towards Gold Beach at about 9.15am on the morning of D-Day when his landing craft struck an underwater obstacle and sank.

He said everyone on board, including four or five doctors and nurses and three crew members, waded through water four or five feet deep towards the shore.

It was while he was wading that he saw a body lying in the water - the first of many bodies that he saw during the war - and it was a sight he never forgot.

He said there was a danger at this point of being hit from both the Germans on land and from the Allies out at sea, who were bombarding German positions but with some shells falling short.

He made it to shore, where there was barbed wire on the beach, on which he badly gashed his hand.

He said he was eventually treated for the gash and sent back to Britain, where he later became a commando and served in the Far East in the final stages of the war.

The awarding of the medal to Mr Waite comes more than a year than many other York Normandy veterans received theirs on the post, and subsequently went to formal ceremonies at the Yorkshire Air Museum near York, at which the French Consul to Yorkshire, presented the medals.

President Hollande promised the medals during the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings in 2014 but many York veterans experienced frustrating delays in receiving them, prompting Yorks MPs Julian Sturdy and Rachael Maskell to pledge to intervene on their behalf.

They finally received them in spring last year after York councillor and former Lord Mayor Ian Gillies contacted a friend who was a senior officer in the army, who had discovered that the MoD did not have their addresses.

Mr Waite said the delay in his case was because he was a very private person, and had initially declined family suggestions that he should receive the medal, and he added that he did not intend to attend any formal presentation ceremony.