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Leon Gautier: Final French D-Day fighter dies aged 100 | World Information

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The final surviving French D-Day fighter, Leon Gautier, has died aged 100.

Mr Gautier was a part of a French commando unit alongside different Allied forces within the D-Day landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944 – the most important sea invasion in historical past that in the end liberated Western Europe from Nazi management.

Solely a number of males from the 177-strong French battalion escaped dying or damage that day – considered one of them being Mr Gautier.

In his later years, he would decry conflict as “ugly” and rife with “distress”.

The veteran’s dying was introduced by mayor Roman Bail of Ouistreham, a commune in Normandy the place the Allies landed nearly 80 years in the past and the place the Frenchman spent his last a long time.

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Mr Gautier had been in hospital for the previous week affected by lung hassle, Mr Bail stated.

‘Hero of 1944, but in addition the little {old} man everybody knew’

The mayor praised Mr Gautier’s affect as “a father to us, a grandfather to us, an necessary determine of each day life” and “the hero of 1944, the hero of June 6, but in addition the little {old} man that everybody knew”.

Mr Gautier was born in 1922 and joined the navy in 1940. He can be transferred to England later that yr when France fell to Nazi occupation.

On D-Day, Mr Gautier and his fellow troops, below the command of Captain Philippe Kieffer, had been among the many first to cost the German-controlled seashores in Normandy.

Mr Gautier recalled how the unit was “on the head of the touchdown” with the British forces letting them go “a number of metres in entrance”.

He stated: “We had been being shot at, however we shot at them too. Once we arrived close to the partitions of the bunkers, we threw grenades in by way of the slits.

“For us, it was the liberation of France, the return into the household… we had been comfortable to come back dwelling.”

Pic: AP

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, listens to French war veteran Leon Gautier, a member of the Kieffer commando, during a ceremony to pay homage to the Kieffer commando, Thursday, June 6, 2019 in Colleville-Montgomery, Normandy. The Kieffer commando, an elite French unit, was among the first waves of Allied troops to storm the heavily defended beaches of Nazi-occupied northern France, beginning the liberation of western Europe. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, Pool)
Mr Gautier was a nationally recognised determine. Pic: AP

Mr Gautier injured his ankle, which sidelined him for a lot of the rest of the conflict.

After it ended, he labored within the automotive business constructing automobile our bodies and coaching mechanics, residing in England, Nigeria and Cameroon earlier than returning to his homeland.

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French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted a tribute to the centenarian saying: “The final member of the Kieffer commando who landed along with his 176 French comrades in Normandy on June 6, 1944, hero of the Liberation, Léon Gautier has left us. We can’t overlook him.”

Mr Gautier is survived by many descendants – together with a great-great-grandson, born on 6 June 2017 – precisely 73 years after D-Day.

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