The mayor of a French town has sent a personal apology to an 86-year-old Witney man after a British war graves cemetery was vandalised.

Retired college principal Roland Wilcock was angered when the cemetery, at Etaples in northern France, was daubed with anti-British graffiti in the early stages of the war in Iraq, which France opposed.

Mr Wilcock's father, who was fatally wounded at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, is buried at the cemetery.

He wrote a letter to the mayor of Le Touquet, the nearest big town which is twinned with Witney.

Mr Wilcock said: "I hope the incident is now closed and that relations between the two towns are now OK.

"The last time I went to see the grave was about seven years ago. I would love to go over again."

The cemetery vandalism provoked outrage among British politicians, war graves staff and relatives.

French president Jacques Chirac apologised to the Queen.

Now Leonce Deprez, mayor of Le Touquet, has replied to Mr Wilcock at his home in Woodlands Road, Witney.

He said that, along with the French secretary of state for veteran soldiers, he has personally paid homage to British soldiers buried in the area.

"Friendly links have always existed between Le Touquet and Great Britain," he told Mr Wilcock.

"I would, for my part, be happy to receieve you when you visit or are passing through."

Mr Wilcock, a former principal of West Oxfordshire College in Witney, was only six months old when his father died.

During the Second World War he also served in the army.