Saturday 3 December 2016

Castle Leslie owner Sir John 'Uncle Jack' Leslie dies peacefully at home

Published 18/04/2016 | 10:50

Sir John Leslie Credit: Twitter
Sir John Leslie Credit: Twitter

Sir John Leslie, one of Ireland's oldest surviving Second World War veterans, has died.

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Sir John (99), who is affectionately known as Uncle Jack, owns the Castle Leslie estate in Co Monaghan.

Last year, the Irish hero received the prestigious Legion d'Honneur in the French Ambassador's residence on Ailesbury Road in Dublin.

Known for hosting Paul McCartney's wedding to Heather Mills at his family seat Castle Leslie in Co Monaghan, Sir Jack enlisted in the Second Battalion of the Irish Guards in August 1937, at the age of 21.

Three years later he was part of the British Expeditionary Corp that landed in France in May 1940.

Commanding a section that battled for two hours to defend Boulogne Sur Mer against advancing Germans, he was captured and spent the next five years as a prisoner of war (POW).

It was believed for a time that he had been killed in action.

During his captivity, he risked his life to spirit out a postcard to his cousin Mr Churchill pleading for a POW exchange to allow some of his comrades in the camp who had taken ill to be freed.

The missive hangs in the Imperial War Museum in London.

After being released from German captivity in 1945, he travelled the world before settling for some time in Rome, where he bought a 1,500 year old monastery.

Returning to Castle Leslie in 1994, he became well-known for his love of rave music at local nightclubs and he travelled to Ibiza to celebrate his 85th birthday at Privilege, the world's biggest nightclub.

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