Sir John Leslie, 99, one of Ireland’s last surviving World War Two veterans, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Monday, April 18.
Last November he was presented with the Legion d’Honneur at the French embassy in Dublin, an award that honours his bravery in France during the war.
He dedicated the honour to the brave Irish soldiers who fought alongside him and said he felt “humbled” to receive the award.
On accepting the award Sir Jack said:
I accept this award graciously on behalf of all of the brave Irish men who lost their lives in pursuit of a greater good. They continue to remain in my memory to this day and this award is for them and their families. Thank you.”
During World War Two, he commanded a section of the British Army in a battle to defend Boulogne Sur Mer from the Germans.
The award was bestowed upon him by President Francois Hollande and the French Government, as an acknowledgement of the Irish soldiers’ role in the liberation of France during the war.
Following the news of his death, Ambassador of France to Ireland Jean-Pierre Thébault paid tribute to him, saying: “With Sir John Leslie, France loses a friend and mourns a hero. Like thousands of other Irishmen and Irishwomen, he voluntarily enlisted and put his life, his future, at risk in the darkest hours of World War II, to fight for freedom and all the core values of our free societies. Their legacy will always inspire us.”
Sir Jack is a member of an aristocratic family that owns Castle Leslie in Co. Monaghan, which hosted the wedding of Beatles singer Paul McCartney and Heather Mills in 2002.
He will be buried in a private burial enclosure next to the estate church of Saint Salvator where he has already prepared his tombstone.