“My granda will always be my hero” - a proud grandson told mourners at the funeral of Joseph Leo Smith.

St Luke’s Church at Chapel Brow, near Little Clifton, was packed out with family and friends for the military funeral of one of west Cumbria’s last D-Day veterans, who was known as Leo. He died peacefully at his nursing home in Hertfordshire, aged 96.

Two standard bearers were present from the Royal British Legion and a bugler played the Last Post at the end, ensuring Leo had a send-off befitting a World War Two hero.

Two of his grandchildren, Mark Walker and Philip Walker, read moving tributes and shared with the mourners memories that they had of his full and varied life, including his love of travel and motor vehicles, his devotion to his country and the part he played in a top-secret mission to confuse the enemy with laser beams. But above all what was clear is the great love he held for his family. Philip said his family have always been proud of Leo and that his grandad will always be his hero.

Rev Julia Powley led the service at St Luke’s Church. She said that Leo was born on January 24 1923 at Seaton, and enlisted in the army in 1942, gaining 11 medals including the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur in 2016 from the French Government for his bravery.

Leo met Mary and married at Brigham Church in 1951. So it was fitting that this was the church where he was laid to rest after the service at St Luke’s. The standards and bugler were also present for the burial. Friends wrote an ode to Leo which said: “Leo is a man who cares, everything he has he shares, anything he will do for you, and he always comes shining through. Always a smile upon his face, he will brighten up any place, he is our friend and we should know, he gives our lives a special glow.”

Leo leaves his wife Mary, daughter Jennifer Walker and son-in-law Les Walker, grandchildren Mark, Melissa and Philip and three great-grandchildren Leo, Maggie and Harvey.

The family thanked people for their love and support. Donations will be shared between the Alzheimers Society and Cancer Research.

We’ll meet again by Vera Lynn was played as he was carried out of the church.