A WAR hero who went on to make a huge contribution to the farming industry has died at the age of 96.

Captain Nicholas Archdale - known as Nick - of Penbedw, Nannerch, had been hospitalised for over three months since injuring his leg in a fall at home.

Born in Southern Rhodesia, where his parents had emigrated, he returned to Britain at the age of seven and the family lived in the New Forest.

He went to Eton, where he was a champion boxer, and then spent some time at Penbedw, the home of family friend Miss Venetia Buddicombe.

At the start of the War he underwent officer training and joined the 1st Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps before moving to the 7th Parachute Battalion of the newly-formed Parachute Regiment.

In May, 1944, the Battalion played a key role in the famous Pegasus Bridge action aimed at preventing the Germans from using the bridges and attacking the eastern flank of the landings at Sword Beach.

After a long day of continuous fighting Capt Archdale, then only 20, was one of only about a dozen men who survived.

On the 50th anniversary he returned to the area, where he and his comrades were hailed as heroes, and he had the honour of introducing the men to Prince Charles.

Almost every year since then he and his wife Patricia, along with other members of the family, returned to Normandy, his final visit being on the 75th anniversary last year.

“He could never understand why people made such a fuss and why people flocked around him, clapping and cheering,” said Mrs Archdale.

His death means that only two members of the Battalion still survive.

Last year he attended a performance at Nannerch Primary School of a specially commissioned play based on the Pegasus Bridge battle, which, he told pupils, “was the most momentous, unforgettable day of my life”.

He also attended the final meeting of the North Wales Normandy Veterans’ Association last year.

After the War Capt Archdale gained a degree in agriculture and became tenant of Penbedw Uchaf, part of the estate, before eventually taking over the whole estate and introducing modern farming methods.

He was one of the founders of the Welsh Half-Bred Sheep Society and of the Farm Assured Welsh Beef and Livestock Scheme which boosted sales of Welsh products through stores such as Waitrose.

He also represented farmers on the board of the National Trust, was a High Sheriff of Flintshire in 1998 and was a past president of Denbighshire and Flintshire Agriculture Society.

In the many tributes already received by his family one farming colleague wrote: “He was highly respected by farmers for his straight and frank personality, but most of all for his efforts and time he gave to improve the quality, marketing and health of Welsh livestock.

“He was a pioneer of his time in several initiatives in the sheep and cattle world – a man of vision and recognised as a leading figure in Welsh agriculture, and was a true ambassador for the industry.”

WW2 Nation - who work to keep WW2 history 'alive' - posted on Twitter: "Very sorry to hear the sad news today of the passing of Captain Nick Archdale. A wonderful gentleman and a pleasure to spend time listening to him recount his service with the 7th Bn, 6th Airborne Division in WW2.

"Our condolences to his family and friends."

Capt Archdale is survived by his wife Patricia, sons Edward and Christopher and daughter Catherine.

A private funeral service will be held on March 18 with a public memorial service at Cilcain Church on April 20.