Wednesday 22 February 2017

Irish hero awarded Legion d'Honneur

Emma Jane Hade, Breanne Madde and Emer Nolan

Published 10/11/2015 | 02:30

D-Day veteran John Leslie was awarded the Legion d’Honneur at a ceremony at the French Ambassador’s residence in Dublin. Picture: Mark Condren
D-Day veteran John Leslie was awarded the Legion d’Honneur at a ceremony at the French Ambassador’s residence in Dublin. Picture: Mark Condren

Sir John Leslie, one of Ireland's oldest surviving Second World War veterans, has received France's highest honour for his efforts in helping liberate the country from the Nazis.

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Sir John (98), who is affectionately known as Uncle Jack and owns Castle Leslie in Co Monaghan, received the prestigious Legion d'Honneur in the French Ambassador's residence on Ailesbury Road in Dublin yesterday. He dedicated the honour to all the Irish soldiers who put their lives on the line during "the two great wars".

"I wish to accept this reward on behalf of all the soldiers from the island of Ireland, who fought and died between the two great wars," he said, as he toasted the occasion with a glass of champagne.

Sir John, who is a cousin of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, enlisted with the Second Battalion of the Irish Guards in 1937 at the age of 21. While fighting in WWII, he was captured as a prisoner of war following the battle to defend Boulogne. He was held in a camp in Salzburg for five years.

While there, he managed to smuggle out cards to Churchill, in which he asked for some of his fellow POWs to be exchanged for their German counterparts.

In his retirement, he now enjoys going to discos for a dance and celebrated his 85th birthday at a nightclub in Ibiza.

Irish Independent

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