Mr Telford, 87, served on' />

Eddie Telford, a veteran of one of World War II's most famous sea battles, has died in Auckland after a short illness.

Mr Telford, 87, served on HMS Achilles, the New Zealand Division cruiser that fought the German pocket battleship Graf Spee in the Battle of the River Plate on December 13, 1939.

It became one of the most famous battles of the war and ended when Graf Spee limped into Montevideo for repairs after taking a hammering from Achilles, HMS Ajax and HMS Exeter.

The Germans were given only 72 hours in the neutral port for repairs and, in a huge morale booster for the Allies, Captain Hans Langsdorff ordered his badly damaged ship to be scuttled rather than re-engage his opponents.

Mr Telford's funeral service will be held at the Devonport Naval Base tomorrow.