The family of Cecil Leyland Riding already knew he was a war hero. He had, after all, been awarded the Military Cross for gallantry during World War Two. But what they didn't know was the true extent of his exploits, until now - thanks to the contents of a picnic basket found in his attic.

The hamper, full of medals, coded maps, memoirs and photographs, has revealed that Captain Riding was in fact a founding member of the SAS. The documents show how, just days after D-Day, the 28-year-old was parachuted behind enemy lines into Nazi-occupied France - with a carrier pigeon strapped to his chest.

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