TRIBUTES have been paid to a Second World War veteran who took part in the D-Day landings and has died, aged 94.

Charles Eagles, from Sunderland, served with the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) during the Second World War.

Mr Eagles, who went on to found a photography shop in Sunderland, which had a branch in Durham, died on January 19.

The Northern Echo: MILITARY MAN: Charles Eagles in his younger daysMILITARY MAN: Charles Eagles in his younger days

Charles Eagles, pictured in 1946

Originally from Newcastle-under-Lyme, in Staffordshire, Mr Eagles joined the DLI after being mistakenly sent to Newcastle-upon-Tyne after he was injured falling off a cliff while training with the Commandos in Scotland.

He became a sergeant with the 9th battalion of the DLI, and was just 19 when he landed on Gold Beach, in Normandy, on June 6, 1944.

In July that year, while the DLI was making progress across France, he was badly injured when a mine exploded.

While recuperating at Dryburn Hospital, in Durham, he met his future wife Irene, from Meadowfield, and the couple went on to have two children, Brian and Sandra.

Some years ago, Mr Eagles wrote an account of his time in the war, which was published in a series of articles in the Northern Echo. Read them here

Following Irene’s death in 1982, he married his second wife Lyn and he had five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

In 1972 he founded Charles Eagles and Son, a photography business, which still has a shop in Maritime Street.

The Northern Echo:

Charles Eagles returned to Normandy for the first time since in the war to mark the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings

Following his death, friends and customers paid tribute to a “hero”, “true gentleman” and “wonderful man”, while others recalled his kindness, integrity, honesty and charm.

A post on the shop’s Facebook page said: “Our condolences go out to Lyn,Brian,Sandra and all the family.

“It was a privilege to have him as not just a boss but to have known him as a friend a true gentleman and hero.”

In 2004, he returned to Normandy for the first time since the war to mark the 60th anniversary of the landings, and in 2016 he joined other DLI veterans to retrace their steps across the former battlefields of France.

In 2015, he was one of eleven DLI veterans to be presented with the Legion D’Honneur, France’s highest military honour, at Durham Cathedral’s festival of remembrance.

At the time, he said: “It’s a nice surprise that we’re getting these medals, I only feel sorry for the lads who didn’t make it.”

His funeral takes place on Wednesday, February 13, at 1pm at Sunderland Crematorium.