Tributes paid to Norfolk D-Day hero Len Mann, who has died aged 97

Len Mann was involved in the D-Day landings.
Credit: ITV News Anglia
Len Mann was described as "like a celebrity" at his care home. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Tributes have been paid to a Normandy veteran who has died at the age of 97.

Len Mann was just 19 when he took part in the D-Day landings.

The former member of the Royal Devonshire Airborne regiment had been due to be in the Horsa gliders, the aircraft which were used to land troops to retake France from the Nazis.

His daughter Beryl Hall said Mr Mann had died on Tuesday at the care home Halsey House in Cromer where he lived.

"He was like a celebrity," said Mrs Hall. "People used to visit Halsey House just to hear his stories."

One of the family's favourite stories was of an act of kindness which saved a life.

"He was due to take part in the glider landings, but a shortage meant that he went over by boat."

One his family's favourite stories is of how he saved another soldier's life - then met him years later. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Mr Mann encountered heavy resistance and the troops were forced to leave many wounded men behind.

"He saw one man who was wounded and couldn't walk, so Len left him his water bottle. Fast forward many years to the 1960s and he and mum were in Cornwall.

"He spotted a man he recognised from the war and he went over to him and said 'Do you remember me? I left you my water bottle.'

"The man said 'you saved my life." The medics didn't find him for a couple of days and that water saved him."

Mrs Hall said her father used to visit schoolchildren and tell them about his experiences in the war. He was an avid fundraiser for the Royal British Legion, and was still collecting outside supermarkets around Norwich until he was 93.

In 2016, he was awarded France's highest honour - the Légion d'Honneur.

He has also served as the Chairman of the Norwich and District Normandy Veterans Association.

His daughter added: "He used to visit Normandy regularly and he was still getting messages from schoolchildren and students. I used to have to write back and tell them he could no longer write to them."

Mr Mann made headlines three years ago when he said he felt as if he was being "left to die" after Norfolk County Council refused to fund a place in the Royal British Legion's Halsey House care home in Cromer.

"He loved it at Halsey House and they took great care of him there," his daughter added.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know