One of the youngest D-Day veterans who stormed Gold Beach carrying more than 10kg of explosives has died.

Derek Farrant, from Shoreham, was just 19 years old when he was part of the Royal Engineer Assault Squadron who cleared a path through the mines and other hazards on Gold Beach so tanks and infantry could move inland.

He turned 19 just three days before D-Day.

On June 6, 1944, he was one of several soldiers in Normandy who were carrying more than 10kg, or 24lb, of high explosives.

Redhill And Reigate Life: Derek Farrant, second from right, turned 19 just three days before D-DayDerek Farrant, second from right, turned 19 just three days before D-Day (Image: Amanda Ryles)

They had to move quickly as they were under the full force of enemy fire.

Derek was 98 when he died on March 29. He had hoped to be alive for the 80th anniversary of D-Day later this year.

On Thursday, his funeral was held in Shoreham, where he lived for much of his life.

His great niece Amanda Ryles, who lives in Devon, told The Argus: “It was a real privilege to know Derek.

“He had so many amazing stories.”

Redhill And Reigate Life: Derek Farrant stormed Gold Beach on D-DayDerek Farrant stormed Gold Beach on D-Day (Image: Amanda Ryles)

Asked about her favourite of Derek’s many incredible stories, she said: “It’s got to be that he was the only person that ended D-Day wearing shorts.

"The bottom half of his trousers has been set alight by shrapnel so he had to rip them off."

Derek began his career at Reuters in Fleet Street, London, and was in its home guard platoon.

He volunteered on the night of December 29, 1940, when St Bride’s, the journalists' church, was bombed by a German incendiary raid.

Fast forward to 1944 and a few days after D-Day he and his squadron managed to get to The Seine.

The Allies had to build Bailey Bridges, including Goliath across the Seine at Vernon. They were under heavy German fire and facing torrential rain.

Just east of Vernon Derek and his platoon, exhausted and starving, found a cottage. They managed to communicate with the people there and ended up swimming in beautiful ponds in the garden.

It was only years later, when one of Derek’s comrades retraced their steps, that they figured out where they had stayed.

“He was really surprised to find they had been at Monet’s gardens in Giverny,” Amanda said.

Derek was then posted briefly to Italy before driving down the coast to head to Greece.

He turned 21 in Athens before his squadron moved to Palestine to carry out refugee patrols and bomb disposal in Haifa, Gaza and Damascus.

Amanda said: “Derek had fond memories of his time there. Seeing what is going on in Gaza now really upset him. He was really sharp right until the very end of his life.

Redhill And Reigate Life: The war took Derek Farrant to GazaThe war took Derek Farrant to Gaza (Image: Amanda Ryles)

“In 1947, at just 22, Derek’s war was over. He had shrapnel in his legs, tinnitus in his one good ear and had survived Normandy malaria and infective hepatitis, but survived he had.”

Derek, one of five children, had lost his younger brother Colin who was killed in service with the RAF.

Colin had been so eager to join the air force that he lied about his age but later found it so terrifying he asked his mother to write to tell them he was too young.

He was shot down and later buried in the Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery in Poland.

Back in England Derek returned to Reuters briefly.

Redhill And Reigate Life: Derek Farrant, centre left, and his wife Pam on their wedding dayDerek Farrant, centre left, and his wife Pam on their wedding day (Image: Amanda Ryles)

In April 1949 he moved back to Sussex and married his beloved Pam.

The pair bought their first house in Woodingdean and, while Derek hoped to work in journalism, he took a temporary job as an administrative assistant at the Brighton General Hospital in Elm Grove when the NHS was in its infancy.

He went on to have a long career in the health service.

Redhill And Reigate Life: Derek Farrant was an NHS administrator for 37 years after the warDerek Farrant was an NHS administrator for 37 years after the war (Image: Amanda Ryles)

After 37 years with the NHS, he retired in 1986. He had been the chief administrator at Brighton General and Bevendean Hospitals.

He and Pam travelled a lot during their retirement together. Pam died in 2018 and Derek continued to live fairly independently in Shoreham.

“Derek had an amazing memory and loved playing with words,” Amanda said. “He wrote letters to politicians and newspapers.”

Derek was also a proud Brighton and Hove Albion fan.

Redhill And Reigate Life: Derek Farrant was a lifelong Seagulls fanDerek Farrant was a lifelong Seagulls fan (Image: Amanda Ryles)

As a schoolboy he had trials with the team but was unable to continue as he was deaf in one ear.

“I expected him to talk about the old days at the Goldstone Ground but he was up to date with it, he’d mention Solly March,” Amanda said.

Amanda told The Argus how Derek kept his scrapbooks and photographs to show his family and any visitors he had.

Redhill And Reigate Life: Derek Farrant, died aged 98Derek Farrant, died aged 98 (Image: Amanda Ryles)

He was awarded a medal as a Chevalier of the Legion D’Honneur, the highest French order of merit.

Amanda said: “We told him how he was one of very few soldiers who had landed on the beaches who were still alive, but he simply said ‘Oh I was nothing special’.

“His modesty was humbling.”

After his funeral, Amanda said: “It was a good send off, full of laughter and tears.

“One of my brother's friends played The Last Post on the cornet. It was so moving.”