A former Milford Haven mayor has admitted that he has never been a Commander in the Royal Navy, despite what people in the town have been led to believe, it has been revealed.

John Roberts, who was Milford Haven mayor in 2008-09, has confirmed that he has never served in the Royal Navy Reserves.

In an exclusive interview, the 80-year-old said that he joined the Merchant Navy on May 24, 1956, and served more than 30 years at sea before retiring as a senior officer in 1987.

Reporters approached Mr Roberts following weeks of investigations after the Milford Mercury newspaper had been contacted by several concerned residents.

He said: "I would like to say that I was not, as some people have been led to believe, in the Royal Navy.

"Confusion arose when I became in command of the British Red Cross in Pembrokeshire, from 1987 to 1992."

He added: "People started referring to me as Commander Roberts in circumstances which I was not a part of."

Mr Roberts said that he became known as ‘Commander’ in the town and the title stuck, but it was never an official rank, despite RNR RD (Royal Navy Reserves Reserve Decoration) appearing behind his name on town council minutes.

He received three Mayor’s awards during his 12 years on the council, and chaired the Founder’s Day and outside events committee for nine years.

Mr Roberts has now retired from the town council due to ill health, he said, and stepped down from his role as president of the Milford Haven Sea Cadets.

Milford Haven Mayor Cllr Guy Woodham said: "Mr Roberts resigned on health grounds on January 17. He was a town councillor for 12 years and is a past Mayor of the town. On behalf of the council I thank him for his service."

He added: "I have spoken with Laurence Harding, monitoring officer, about this matter who has advised me that as Mr Roberts has now resigned from the council it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment. I have accepted that advice."

A Royal Navy spokesperson confirmed: "We have no record of this individual ever having served in the Royal Navy or Royal Marines."