One of the few Frenchmen to survive the Normandy invasion of 6 June 1944, Leon Gautier was a figure of national renown.
go through Reemul Balla, journalist @Reemul_B
Monday, 03 July 2023 at 21:55, UK
The last surviving French D-Day soldier, Leon Gautier, has died at the age of 100.
Only a few soldiers of the 177 French battalion survived to be killed or wounded that day – Gautier was one of them.
In his later years, he condemned war as “ugly” and full of “misery.”
Ouistreham Mayor Roman Bail announced the veteran’s death. Ouistreham is a Normandy commune where the Allied forces landed nearly 80 years ago and where the Frenchman spent his final decades.
Bell said Mr Gautier had been hospitalized for a lung ailment over the past week.
“The hero of 1944, also known as the little old man”
The mayor praised Mr Gautier’s influence as “our father, our grandfather, an important figure in everyday life” and “the hero of 1944, the hero of June 6, and the little old guy everyone knows” .
M. Gautier was born in 1922 and joined the Navy in 1940. Later that year, France fell to Nazi occupation and he was transferred to England.
On the D-Day landing day, Gautier and his comrades, under the command of Captain Philip Keefer, took the lead in charging on the beach controlled by the German army in Normandy.
Gautier recalled how the unit was “at the forefront of the landing”, while the British made them advance “a few meters ahead”.
He said: “We were shot, but we also shot at them. When we got close to the bunker wall, we threw grenades through the gap.
“For us, it’s the liberation of France, a return to the family… We are happy to be home.”
Mr Gautier suffered an ankle injury which kept him out for much of the remainder of the war.
After finishing, he worked in the automotive industry in bodybuilding and training mechanics, living in England, Nigeria and Cameroon before returning to his home country.
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French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to the centenarian on Twitter, saying: “The last member of Kiefer’s commando who landed in Normandy with 176 French comrades-in-arms on June 6, 1944 , Liberation hero Léon Gautier has left us. We will not leave us.” Forget him. “
Mr. Gautier is survived by many descendants, including a great-great-grandson born on June 6, 2017, exactly 73 years after the D-Day landings.