Tributes were paid to Hartlepool Dunkirk veteran Terry Lewis as he celebrated his 100th birthday.
Terry was just 21 and serving in the 53 Field Regiment Royal Artillery TA in June 1940 when he and thousands of Allied troops were forced to retreat from France in the face of a German onslaught.
He spent 30 hours on the beach, which at times came under attack from dive bombers, before he was picked up by boat and brought back to England.
Terry went on to see service in Egypt, the Middle East and Italy.
Various presentations were made to him, including by the Royal British Legion, as he turned 100 yesterday at Major Cooper Court in Seaton Carew.
Terry said of Dunkirk: “A pal and I were in the sandhills and made a little trench with our hands.
“You had the dive bombing, but it could have been worse. How we got off I don’t know.
“I always think it was a miracle. Churchill said he thought about 20,000 would get off, but about 300,000 did.”
Terry was presented with a framed certificate in recognition of reaching 100 by Hartlepool Royal British Legion President Charles Humphrey.
Legion welfare officer David Stacey said: “We thought it fitting and right that we had to mark the occasion.”
Hartlepool’s Ceremonial Mayor Councillor Allan Barclay attended the party and chatted with Terry.
Coun Barclay, who is also Hartlepool Council’s armed forces champion, said: “If it wasn’t for people like Terry we wouldn’t be here today. I’m very proud to have met him.”
After the war Terry, who never married, returned to work in Hartlepool’s education office where he held a number of administrative roles until the formation of Cleveland county in the mid 70s.
He then moved to the chief executive’s office, where he worked as an admin assistant.
Commenting on reaching 100, Terry said: “I always say ‘just keep gannin’.”
He has lived at Major Cooper Court for 31 years.