A Second World War veteran who was awarded one of France’s highest military honours after parachuting behind enemy lines on D-Day has died at 96.

Arthur Cooper, formerly of Dorset Road in Belmont, was given the highly prestigious Chevalier (Knight) in the French Legion of Honour during 2016.

But now he will be laid to rest on August 14, and his brother Dick has paid a heartfelt tribute to a sibling he described as a "hero".

“He's always been a hero, he always will be. We should never forget him as such, because he went through hell," he said.

"As a person, yes - very likeable, we got on very well. As a brother, we had a lot of arguments which you obviously do but I couldn't say anything bad about him at all.

"He never suffered fools gladly but if somebody had come up with a problem, he would take that problem up if he thought it was right and he would fight to the death to get that sorted.

"He was that type of person."

READ: Arthur Cooper: WWII veteran who parachuted behind enemy lines on D-Day is awarded top military honour

Arthur, born in Bermondsey with brother Dick, was the eldest of four siblings to Arthur Thomas and Elsie Cooper.

He was a former 6th Division paratrooper with the Yorkshire regiment, one of the first Allied forces in action during D-Day in June 1944.

Dropped in near the Pegasus Bridge, close to the Caen Canal in northeast France, he was one of 55 out of approximately 500 to survive a successful yet deadly battle in Bréville.

One of his colleagues was lost during the fight as he was shot and killed when he became entangled in the branches of an orchard tree.

Dick, 94, added: "When we were kids we argued and we fought but we were still brothers. My father died early [at 61] and he became sort of the head of the household and everybody looked up to him, the family looked up to him, because he led.

"A lot of people may have thought that he was a bit bullish, if you like, but as I say when you've gone through what he went through it does alter you.

"But he loved parties, was a good pianist, and he had a life. There's no doubt about it.

"He never had a good education but he did educate himself by reading and going to different classes so, from that point of view, he did well.

"He ran a good business down at Wrythe Lane but, as I say, he's a very difficult person to sum up if I'm perfectly honest."

Dick said Arthur missed out on crucial years in school due to being hospitalised for four years at three years old and leaving when he was seven-and-a-half.

But he managed to serve in the Army during the Second World War, run a newsagents in Carshalton's Wrythe Lane, and become president of Sutton Bowling Club.

Arthur died on July 31 this year and is survived by his partner Lilan, who is 96, and two children Gillian and Sandra.