When JK Rowling was awarded the Legion d'honneur by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, she revealed that her courageous ancestor, Louis Valont, had won the same award for his bravery during the Battle of Verdun.

Valont was wounded and evacuated three times but kept returning to the trenches to fight for the French army against the Germans. He was awarded the Legion d'honneur for bravery when he was wounded while trying to bring supplies of grenades to French soldiers besieged by German troops at the Fort de Vaux, near Verdun.

The soldier, who married an Englishwoman in 1900, suffered injuries that left him disabled, depressed and with only 50 per cent of his vision in one eye.

Details of his distinguished military career are contained in documents held at the national archives in Paris.

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