FORMER military man Ray Bather will head for France to follow in the wartime footsteps of his grandfather this summer.

The 59-year-old Allen Valleys man will wade out of the sea in Northern France, just as his grandfather did during the Normandy landings in 1944.

It will be part of a 600-mile bike ride, which will take him through Belgium and Holland, in aid of the The Royal British Legion.

Raymond Bather Snr was a member of the 51st Highland Division, an infantry division of the British Army, which was part of the Western allied effort to liberate mainland Europe from Germany on D-Day.

This will be the second European adventure in 12 months for Ray, who last year took on the Centurion Ride from St Quentin in France to Dunkirk on the Channel coast, in memory of fallen Northumberland Fusiliers from the First World War.

He said: “This year’s plan is much more ambitious than last year’s. I will be wading out of the sea in Normandy as my grandfather did in 1944.

“I will then be following the liberation route to the Rhine at Arnhem.”

Ray will again use his push bike for the mission, and will wear Second World War battledress.

However, the father-of-two will revert to the Great War uniform he wore last year for a section of the journey which will pass through the Somme and Cambrai battlefields.

Ray said his journey will be twice the length of last year’s 300-mile mission, during which he will visit 51 war graves and place a poppy on each one.

He added: “In Belgium and Holland I will be following the Operation Market Garden route to the bridge at Arnhem. At the Arnhem bridge I will be piped across the river.”

Ray’s efforts last year raised over £1,900 in aid of the Royal British Legion.

To sponsor Ray, visit his page on facebook, titled The Return of the 51st.