A D-Day hero who captured the tallest soldier in the German army in a rare light hearted moment of World War Two has died aged 97.

Corporal Bob Roberts, who stood at 5ft 3ins, took the surrender of 7ft 6ins Jakob Nacken in September 1944.

Before that he had been the second man to set foot on Juno Beach and was nearly killed several times during the Battle of Normandy.

Bournemouth Echo:

Cpl Bob Roberts pictured in uniform during the war. Picture: Bob Roberts/BNPS

Bob and a colleague located a cliff-side enemy machine gun post raining down fire on the beaches before taking it out with a Bren gun and flame thrower.

He survived a sniper's bullet grazing his head and then killed a German soldier who pulled a pistol on him as he was being captured.

Tragically in July 1944 his younger brother Ernie was killed in action at the very spot Bob had been relieved from just 24 hours before.

Bob died in his sleep at Bournemouth Hospital in Dorset on August 1 after a short illness.

His wife, Vera, died in 2011 and he leaves their four children; Allen, Brian, Colin and Dot, 10 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

The Bournemouth War Memorial Homes where he lived has been flying their Union Jack at half mast in his honour.

His daughter Dot Savill said: "Although it was his bravery during the war that he was famous for, Bob was first and foremost a wonderful dad, grandad and great-grandad.

"He was so lucky to enjoy a long and happy marriage with Vera, who he called his 'English rose' and he liked nothing more than being surrounded by his extended family.

"He had a great sense of humour and a kind, caring disposition. He was a very special person and we all miss him dearly."

Bournemouth Echo:

Picture: RachelAdams/BNPS

Tributes have been paid to Bob by the local Dunkirk Veterans Association, which also accommodated D-Day veterans.

Valery Hollier, secretary of the Bournemouth and Poole branch, who was a friend of Bob's, said: "He was a remarkable, amazing man with a lovely sense of humour.

"To think he was the second man on Juno beach is incredible and we owe our D-Day heroes so much..

"Our freedoms today are because of their sacrifices and they must never be forgotten."

Bournemouth Echo:

Bob Roberts in his uniform. Picture: Bob Roberts/BNPS

Bob was originally from St John, New Brunswick, Canada, and enlisted with the North Shore Regiment of the Canadian Army in 1942 before being sent to England to train.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, he was in 2nd platoon, B company of his regiment which was at the spearhead on Nan Sector of Juno Beach.

Within 10 minutes of landing Bob's company was in the main town and found themselves clearing houses.

In one property, the French owner ushered Bob and his comrade Aurele Lacroix towards a hatch door in his living room.

The pair followed the entrance to an underground tunnel that led several hundred yards to the clifftop machine gun post firing at will on the beach.

Bob later recounted: "We went under the houses for a long way and eventually saw daylight and two German soldiers with a wall in front of them operating a machine gun, firing on the beach.

"I let go a burst of fire of my Bren gun at knee height which brought these two down.

"Lacroix gave them a couple of licks of a flame thrower he had. With that another eight Germans appeared from either side to put the flames out.

"I let go another burst of fire. Two of them jumped over the wall and the others couldn't get up off the floor. We got out of there pretty sharp.

"It wasn't until 7pm on D-Day that we cleared the town. All the French people came out and started cheering and singing the national anthem."

In July 1944 Bob's regiment were involved in the battle to take the heavily-defended Carpiquet Airport near Caen and were being pinned down by a sniper.

While he was shooting his rifle from behind a tree a sniper fired a bullet that shaved his head, giving him the sensation of 'a red hot needle in the corner of his eye'.

While taking an enemy stronghold near Calais, Bob's flame-throwing comrade Lacroix was killed with a shot to the head before he was nearly killed by a surrendering German officer.

Bournemouth Echo:

Picture: TomWren/BNPS

Bob said: "I frisked him for weapons and as I did I saw him put his hand in his pocket and pull out a Walther P38 gun.

"I had my Sten gun cocked and ready and I just touched the trigger and shot him in the eye before he could kill me."

It was after Bob's regiment took out a German gun battery firing down on Dover from Calais on September 26, 1944 that he was involved in one of the most bizarre confrontations of the war.

At Sangatte, just outside of Calais, Bob was searching a row of prisoners when he came face to chest with Nacken, a giant circus performer who had toured Europe and the United States pre-conflict.

The moment was captured in a memorable photo taken by Bob's friend Lieutenant Don Grant.

Bob recalled: "I didn't take a lot of notice of this guy at the time. I just passed the prisoners on one after the other after searching them.

"But my mates who were watching the rest of the men saw this giant of a guy approach me and I was aware they and the Germans were having a good laugh."

Bob went on to serve in Belgium and Holland where his war came to an end in February 1945 when he was hit in the leg by shrapnel.

He returned to England and married his sweetheart, Vera, in Bournemouth.

Bournemouth Echo:

Bob Roberts with wife Vera. Picture: Bob Roberts/BNPS

Bob received the prestigious Legion D'Honneur by the French government in 2014 for helping to liberate the country from the Nazis.

Other tributes include one from Alicia Dotiwalla, manager at the Juno Beach Centre, a WW2 memorial museum in Normandy dedicated to Canadian servicemen, who said: "We are very saddened to learn of the passing of Bob Roberts.

"In 2019, a family friend of Mr Roberts shared with us his remarkable story of service.

"While sadly, each year, fewer and fewer veterans are with us, the stories of D-Day heroes like Bob Roberts will continue to live on here and with all who carry the torch of remembrance."

Lord Peter Ricketts, chairman of the Normandy Memorial Trust, said: "Mr Roberts was a distinguished member of that very special band of heroes who landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and went on to liberate Europe.

"The British Normandy Memorial will commemorate their courage and dedication as well as honour the names of those who failed to return from the battles of 1944.

"We owe it to them all that what they achieved should never be forgotten."

Bob's funeral is taking place at Bournemouth crematorium on August 13.