A WAR veteran has been honoured with a medal by the country he helped to liberate 75 years ago.

Lewis Banham, who lives in Weir and is a member of Haslingden-based Veterans in Communities, received a Liberation Medal as a gesture of thanks from the Netherlands at the VIC Centre in Bury Road.

Mr Banham, 94, who was a despatch rider in the Second World War, was also reunited at the ceremony with the same model of bike he rode across Europe for three years in the 1940s.

Mr Banham said: "It was a day that I will never forget. I was presented with the medal by Brigadier David Hargreaves, chairman of the Royal Signals Association, and then they took me downstairs.

“I was amazed to see the bike again. I would have loved to have been able to ride it, but I got to rev the engine. It felt good.”

Seeing the bike again brought memories flooding back for Mr Banham, who enlisted in the 15th Scottish Infantry Division in April 1942 aged 19, just three weeks after marrying.

After eight weeks’ training he was in the 44th Infantry Division on a Liberty ship, the Empire Duke, crossing the English Channel to land in Arromanches along with his M20 bike. He landed on June 13 1944 – seven days after D-Day.

Once on the beach he had to ride off alone to reach a location, while shells showered the sand. He almost never made it when at first he rode on the wrong side of the road and nearly ran into a jeep.

Mr Banham and his trusty bike covered thousands of miles across France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany delivering vital messages to the battalions on the frontline to ensure the Allied success.

He returned home in November 1946, to wife Bessie and their one-bedroom house in Tong Lane, Bacup. They went on to have a son and Mr Banham now has three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Mrs Banham died two years ago after 73 years of marriage.

Mr Banham has attended Veterans in Communities sessions in Haslingden every week for 18 months, along with fellow Royal Signals soldier Bill Ogden.