The 99 year-old World War II veteran, Sir John (Jack) Norman Ide Leslie, 4th Baronet, was bestowed with the Légion d’Honneur on 9 November, 2015 in Dublin, for service in France during the Second World War. He celebrated his 100th birthday on 06 December.
H.E. Jean-Pierre Thébault, French Ambassador to Ireland stated that Sir John was honoured for his “significant personal contribution in the defence of freedom of France during World War II”. Also in attendance was the French Minister of State for Veterans Affairs Mr Jean-Marc Todeschini, who later outlined the French commemorations planned for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
Born in New York on 06 December 1916, Jack Leslie travelled to Ireland with his parents on the White Star Liner when he was just three to live in Castle Leslie, Glaslough, County Monaghan, which was built in the 19th Century for the Leslie clan, who had been living on the estate there since the 1600s. He is a cousin of Winston Churchill.
Jack enlisted in the 2 Battalion Irish Guards in August 1937. He performed duties at the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Palace before departing for France for service with the British Expeditionary Force in May 1940. As a Captain, he was part of the covering force prior to the Dunkirk evacuation. He was captured while the Irish and Welsh Guards were defending the port of Boulogne-sur Mer, and spent five years in POW camps across Germany. He was released from Moosberg Camp, Lower Saxony in 1945.
Speaking at the award ceremony, the former Captain of the Irish Guards said: “I accept this award graciously on behalf of all 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”.
The French embassy in Dublin has advised that it still seeking other surviving D-Day and Second World War veterans to come forward.
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