TEIGNMOUTH is mourning the loss of one of its most decorated and respected residents.

War hero Tony Sutton has died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 98.

A veteran of the Normandy landings, Tony was awarded both the Military Cross and the Legion d’Honneur for his service during the conflict.

He received the medal last year in a ceremony held at Teignmouth Golf Club.

As well as his war service, Tony was also a talented sportsman, playing rugby for Bath where he made 45 appearances in the 1940s and early 1950s. He was the longest serving chairman of Teignmouth Rugby Club, holding the position for 25 years. But his talents didn’t end with rugby.

He was also a distinguished cricketer and held one of the longest serving memberships of MCC.

Sport aside, he was also a magician and held the record of the longest membership of the Magic Circle for 80 years.

His late wife Gillian, who died in 2015, once said of him: ‘He was a source of inspiration to everyone who knows him, a wry sense of humour, immense charm and modesty about his achievements.

‘And his opinions much sought after and valued by all.’

A family spokesman said he was ‘A man of great strength, intellect, charm, wit, kindness and love, as well as a pillar of the community.

‘Everyone you meet describes him as a legend, we are inordinately proud of him, he was the best father.’

Until his death, retired lawyer Tony, who was a senior partner with law firm Tozers, was the oldest surviving Bath player.

He continued to play golf at Teignmouth until his mid 90s.

Friend Viv Wilson said: ‘Tony was a man of many parts – soldier, solicitor and part-time magician.

‘Modest, warm and with a twinkling sense of humour, he conversed on all levels with any individual.

‘The pride he may have taken in a patriotic sense was balanced by his willingness to gather bits of driftwood off New Quay beach and use for kindling.

‘He was seldom without a smile and a cheery word and quietly made a very positive contribution to life in Teignmouth in ways that those outside the family may never know about.’

Several months ago he featured in The Times newspaper for a feature about his former rugby club.

In it, he spoke about his wartime experiences.

He served in the Westminster Dragoons in the Second World War, for which he was awarded the Military Cross and the Legion d’Honneur.

He explained his part in the invasion of the Normandy landings, sweeping the beaches for German-laid mines.

He said: ‘We had to be first on the beaches and my brother was there on D-Day.

‘I arrived in a Jeep four days later.

‘That was a terribly important contribution to the success of the landing.’

His regiment later moved on to the Netherlands, where Sutton saw the action that would earn him the Military Cross.

His citation reads: ‘He saw a wounded man lying in a ditch... dismounted from his tank and crawled some 20 yards under continuous machine gun fire.

‘After about 10 minutes, Lt Sutton regained his tank with the man and, with the assistance of another member of the crew, succeeded in landing him on to the deck and reaching safety.’

Tony said: ‘I was very lucky, we all felt very lucky.’

He graduated from Oxford, where he played lock in the university’s multinational first XV.

He also played for the university at cricket.

He had one game for Somerset in 1948 but it was with the Oxford University team that Sutton enjoyed his finest moments on the cricket field.

The 6ft 4in off spinner took five wickets against MCC at Lord’s in 1946, a haul including the wickets of Denis Compton and Bill Edrich.

But his fondest memories came from Oxford’s games against Yorkshire at The Parks.

The first, in 1946, was Sutton’s first-class debut and he soon found himself bowling to none other than Len Hutton, bowling him out.

The funeral service will take place at 2.15pm on Monday, July 15 at Our Lady and St Patrick church in Teignmouth.

A memorial service is planned for later in the year.

He leaves children Veronica, Bridget, Theresa, Philip and Michael, 15 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.