THE former head of English at a Botley secondary school has been recognised for his service during the Second World War.

A surprised Graham Platt discovered he was the centre of a ceremony to award him the Veterans Badge on Remembrance Sunday.

The 97-year-old great-grandfather, who now lives in care home Cumnor Hill House, is a former head of English at Matthew Arnold School, as well as a former headteacher of Kingston Bagpuize Primary School.

His daughter Sue Taylor, who lives in Standlake, said it was a lovely moment for him and the family.

She added: "He did not expect it at all.

"His memory is not very good anymore but he spoke about it afterwards, so it clearly resonated with him and meant a lot to him.

"He had many terrible memories of the war and refused to visit France for many years.

"Eventually when I had my children we managed to convince him to come with us on holiday."

Mr Platt joined the 13th (Honourable Artillery Company) Regiment of the Royal Horse Artillery in 1943, having previously worked in Foyles bookshop in London.

He rose to the rank of captain and landed in Normandy on D-Day before fighting in the Battle for Caen.

His regiment then moved eastward as part of the 11th Armoured Division through France, Belgium and Holland, finishing the war at the German city of Flensburg, near the Danish border.

After leaving school, he took advice and took a year out to work in Foyles book shop in London.

Mrs Taylor recalled how he had a lucky escape during the conflict.

She said:"A friend asked him to spit when they saw a single magpie and he laughed and said 'utter nonsense' and refused.

"At that moment a bomb dropped and he got some shrapnel in his knee and got carted off the battlefield for hospital treatment.

"Needless to say, the family all have to spit when they see a single magpie now."

Following the war Mr Platt went to teacher training college, which led him to Matthew Arnold School and Kingston Bagpuize Primary.

He retired at 60 and spent many years indulging in hobbies from fell walking in the Lake District to travelling the world.

He wrote a book called 'From Dawn to Dusk' which details some of his dark memories of the horrors of war.

In his later years, his war-time injury caught up with him and he had a knee replacement which subsequently curtailed his fell walking on the mountain tops.

But he continued to enjoy visits to the lakes up until his late 80s.

Mrs Taylor added: "He has definitely earned the right to relax and take it a bit easy now.

"He will be 98 in January so that will be the next celebration for us."

Anyone who has served in the British armed forces is eligible for a Veterans Badge, which is awarded by the Government.