A D-DAY veteran from Dursley has died at the age of 96 - a year after the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

Group Captain Kenneth John Parfit RAF (Ret’d), 96, of Legion Close, Dursley, passed away peacefully on August 24 at Henlow Court Care Home.

He was born on March 20, 1924 in Barnet, Hertfordshire, where he spent a happy childhood.

This was disrupted in 1939 with the outbreak of war. In 1941, aged 17, Ken went to Glasgow University, where he joined the University Air Squadron.

In 1943, and now in the Royal Air Force, he completed navigator training in Canada.

In 1944 upon his return Ken joined No 61 Squadron of Bomber Command flying Lancaster aircraft. His first raid was a night time operation against German troops who were facing Canadian invasion forces in the Caen area. He was part of the huge force of 250 Lancaster bombers. Many more operations followed.

Then Ken joined the famous Pathfinder Force whose role was mark out the route and target with flares for the main bomber fleet. His first mission was the night of 19th September 1944 over Germany. There were a further 28 terrifying missions. Ken flew his last operation in April 1945, when he was only 21.

Post war, there followed a full career in the RAF. He became Commanding Officer of No 84 Squadron in Aden, Yemen, with Beverley aircraft. A few years later, he was the Commanding Officer of No 30 Squadron at RAF Fairford, with the new Hercules C130 transport aeroplane.

In 1974 he was the Officer Commanding RAF Episkopi, Cyprus and had only been there a short while when the Turks invaded the island. Caring for refugees on the base and arranging the repatriation of families to the UK was one of his many challenging tasks.

After Cyprus, Ken was posted to Ankara, Turkey as the Plans and Policy Officer for CENTO, an extension of NATO.

Ken retired from the RAF in 1977, and spent the next five years with British Aerospace in Saudi Arabia.

Retirement brought a more settled life. Ken became a Cotswold Warden, joined Probus and the Royal Air Forces Association. He enjoyed giving talks to local groups about his time in the RAF. In 2011, Ken and his wife Margaret moved to Dursley, where they made new friends and became members of St James Church.

In 2015, Ken was awarded the rank of Chevalier in the Ordre national de la Legion d’honneur by the French government in recognition of his role in the liberation of France.

Ken is survived by his wife, Margaret, whom he married in 1947, by three daughters, a son, nine grandchildren and by one great granddaughter.

Donations to RAFA in memory of Ken can be sent for the attention of J. Lack, L W Clutterbuck, High Street, Cam GL11 5LE.