A 92-year-old former soldier who led a team of Commandos that seized the key German port of Kiel and took the surrender of all German forces in Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein has been honoured by the city.

Major Tony Hibbert, who lives at Trebah, commanded a mixed Commando force of 500 men that penetrated 70 km through the German lines and held Kiel for three days until relieved by reinforcements.

Major Hibbert, negotiating through Admiral Doenitz, then took the surrender of all German forces in Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein and through the Kiel chief of police he was credited with keeping the 420,000 foreign slave workers under control.

Called Operation Eclipse, knowledge of the operation has only recently been made public and all survivors of "T Force Kiel" recently received a commendation from Sir David Richards KCB CBE DSO, the Chief of General Staff.

The success of the operation meant the Western Allies captured a swathe of Germany's Baltic coast as the Soviet Union marched on central Europe Major Hibbert’s actions not only stopped Kiel from falling into Soviet hands but also saved numerous lives.

The Honorary Consul for Germany in Devon and Cornwall, Angela Spatz, visited his home at Trebah Gardens on Saturday to bestow the Great Seal of Kiel on Major Hibbert.

Frau Spatz, who said it was a "great pleasure" to present the award on behalf of the citizens of Kiel added that his actions had “certainly saved many lives on both sides”.

Calling the honour, “one of the most important things in my life”, Major Hibbert said: “I gather I am the first Englishman to receive it, and the fact that I've received it for when I was fighting an action in the war against the Germans, I think it means so much."

He added that he never expected any particular thank you from them, adding: “it is beyond belief. It means a lot."

Major Hibbert who also holds the Military Cross was on crutches at the time of the raid due to an injury he picked up while fighting in Arnhem, immortalised in the film A Bridge too Far.