CIVIC dignitaries and ex-servicemen gathered at a poignant ceremony to honour two Second World War veterans awarded France's highest medal for bravery.

D-Day veteran Bob Roberts, who also captured the tallest soldier in the German army, and Dunkirk veteran Les Kerswill - who after becoming a POW escaped German capture and walked 1,300 miles to freedom - were both awarded the Legion d'honneur earlier this year.

However, members of the Royal British Legion (RBL) decided a joint presentation at Poole's clubhouse was needed, rather than simply receiving the medals by post.

Yesterday, at Poole's RBL, North Road, Borough of Poole's Mayor Cllr Ann Stribley joined Colonel Tim Lerwill, of HQ Salisbury, The Rifles, to honour the pair.

Cllr Stribley told those gathered: "Bob Roberts, a D-Day veteran, was one of the first troops to set foot on the Normandy beaches.

"He fought across France, Holland and Belgium, and was wounded 100 yards from the German border."

Meanwhile, Colonel Lerwill said of Dunkirk veteran Les, that he was "one of the men who made up the last line of defence at the village of St Venant, in a bid to stop the German army from reaching the beaches."

Today, Les, aged 96, and 92-year-old Bob, live just a few yards away from one another in Bournemouth's Jewell Road.

Les, who served in the Royal Berkshire Regiment, said: "It is nice to think that people remember what you did back then, when you were younger and able to do it."

More than 300 of his comrades were killed at St Venant, but their actions in holding up the German advance allowed more than 300,000 troops to be evacuated by a flotilla of little ships.

Bob, who enlisted with the North Shore Regiment of the Canadian Army in 1942, had many narrow escapes, such as when a snipers's bullet grazed his temple, when a shell blast killed the man next to him, and when an enemy spy was shot dead just as she was about to kill him.

In Calais Bob was also involved in one of the more bizzare confrontations of the war.

Standing at 5ft 3ins, the diminutive soldier took the surrender of 7ft 6ins tall Jakob Nacken and the amusing moment was caught on camera.