A World War II veteran who suffered knee problems for 70 years had been unknowingly carrying a heap of metal shrapnel lodged in his leg.

Ronald Brown, of Exeter, England, passed away last week at the age of 94.  His body had been sent to be cremated, and when his ashes were returned to his family, so to were six ounces of metal screws, thread and hooks.

Apparently, the shrapnel had been wedged in the veteran's leg since August 1944 when he stepped on a land mine in France. 

Medics had left the pieces of metal in his left leg because it was near an artery and they thought it was safer.

"He'd said there was a bullet in his leg but I was imagining one romantic piece of metal," Brown's daughter Jane Madden, 55, told the Telegraph.

It wasn't after Brown had died that his family discovered that the "bullet" he had been carrying around for more than 68 years was in fact random bits of shrapnel metal.

"It's just macabre really, and amazing, because he never used to complain about the pain. It just shows how brave he was," Madden said.

Brown's family said that his only complaint about his injury was when he asked children not to sit on his knee. 

Brown had joined the British Army at the age of 21. When he stepped on the landmine in August, two months after D-Day, he had to crawl two miles to safety.   

His family said that Brown spoke little of the war when he came home. The only thing he did say was that he started with 900 men in his regiment, and only 29 survived.

He later became a tax inspector in Exeter and lived a long and healthy life, dying of a chest infection last week.

His family thinks that the never knew what was really stuck in his leg.

"I suppose it's a bitter-sweet memory for us because it symbolizes everything he did and how he suffered," Brown's 22-year-old granddaughter Holly told the Telegraph.

However, looking back the family said that there were some clues.

"He would travel overseas to Australia and America and he was always setting off scanners as he walked through," Holly said.