TRIBUTES are being paid to a Newport D-Day veteran who died this week - months after going back to the Normandy beach where he landed for the first time since 1944.

Frank James, 95, who was a trooper in the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards during the Second World War, suffered a stroke on November 24 and died a week later in the Royal Gwent Hospital.

Mr James is survived by his six children, 16 grandchildren, and 16 great grandchildren. His wife, Edna, died in 2004.

Mr James was a member of the 1st Monmouthshire, a Territorial Army unit, and was working at the Lysaght steelworks when war broke out. He was assigned barrack duties before being transferred to the Royal Welsh and then the Royal Armoured Corps.

Mr James learned to drive three-tonne lorries and tanks before he was posted to 4/7 Royal Dragoon Guards at Banbury, Oxfordshire, as D-Day approached on June 6, 1944.

On the day of the greatest amphibious invasion in the world’s history, Mr James and his lorry landed on Gold Beach, where his sergeant was shot and killed by a German sniper.

By midnight on D-Day, 400 Allied servicemen had lost their lives on Gold Beach. A total of 25,000 servicemen landed on that beach.

The Royal Dragoons liberated Creully on June 6 and 70 years later, Mr James and seven other D-Day veterans were presented with the town's honorary Gold Beach Medal by the Mayor of Creully.

Mr James returned to the beach where he had landed thanks to the lottery's Heroes' Return programme.

Mr James told the Argus this summer: “When we went over I was in the ship all night because we were transporting the ammunition for the tanks. Before we could get on the beach we were under heavy German shellfire from the shore – that was the first bit of action I experienced there.”

When asked if he was honoured to be receiving the medal from the French town, he said: “I didn’t go for bloody medals – but it’s nice of the French to recognise what we did. They are always friendly when we go over, I think they remember how badly they were treated by Germany during the war.”

One of Mr James’ friends, Richard Crew, 70, from Newport, drove Mr James to the Normandy ceremony and said that his fellow Royal Welsh Comrade was a remarkable man.

He added: “Frank was a great friend. He was my navigator and I sat alongside him wherever he went. I visited him up to five times a week and he enriched my life.

“It was the camaraderie as much as the friendship and Frank was always his jovial self.

“Frank did a lot for Newport and spoke to many schools about his experiences. He was a remarkable man and will be greatly missed.”

One of Mr James’ daughters, Pamela Gittins, 70, said that her father was a caring man whose central focus was his family.

She said: “Looking after the family was his hobby. He was a caring person and he cared for my mother when she was ill. They were a devoted couple of 60 years and he always watched out for her.

“He was just our father to us and as the months go by, we’ll think about the things he did and said. He was active until the last and he was lucky to have such a long life.”

Mr James' funeral will be led by Reverend Keith Blackmore and will take place at St John’s Church, Maindee at 2pm on December 10.