A FORMER soldier who fought in North Africa, Italy and Yugoslavia in the Second World War has celebrated his 100th birthday.

John Patterson woke up on Friday to a telegram from the Queen, and cards and gifts from family and friends to mark the milestone.

Mr Patterson, pictured with family members and inset in the Army, joined the Royal Artillery when war broke out in 1939.

After the war, he and his late wife Margaret had two sons, Malcolm and Andrew. Mr Patterson put his long life down to sports as well a few of the bad things in life, such as smoking and enjoying malt whisky.

He said: “The most memorable day of my life was my wedding day. Margaret and I went on a boat on the Solent for our honeymoon.

“Another memorable day was being demobbed when the war was declared over in October 1945.”

Mr Patterson, who has six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, celebrated his birthday in Chacombe Park nursing home, near Banbury.

His son Malcolm said: “It was wonderful to be with him on this very special day to say just how proud he makes us feel.”

Karen Thomas, Chacombe Park general manager, added: “We’re delighted to be celebrating a truly remarkable man as he reaches this amazing milestone.”

Main picture: Jon Lewis