Last French combatant from D-Day, Léon Gautier, passes away at age 100

Le nom de Léon Gautier

At the age of 100, the final survivor of a French commando unit that assisted in thwarting Nazi Germany's invasion of western Europe has passed away.

Léon Gautier took part in the D-Day landings in 1944, when Allied forces launched the largest sea invasion in history against France's Normandy.

He was one of a select group of French participants in the deadly, eight-day conflict.

In the future, Gautier referred to war as a "misery" that "ends with widows and orphans.".

Romain Bail, the regional mayor, referred to Gautier as "a local hero whom everyone knew" and an "ardent defender of freedom.".

Gautier, who was born in Rennes in the Brittany region of northwest France, joined the French navy as a teenager shortly after the start of World War Two because he was too young to enlist in the army.

Before Adolf Hitler's forces invaded much of western Europe, including France, he fled to Britain in 1940.

Gautier moved to London and joined the Free France movement, which ran an army and government in exile that collaborated with the Allies to fight Nazi Germany.

Before enlisting in the Marine riflemen known as the Kieffer commandos, who trained in the Scottish Highlands, he fought in the Congo, Syria, and Lebanon.

They were the sole French combatants who took part in D-Day.

More than half of Gautier's unit of 177 French soldiers were killed during the Battle for Normandy.

The D-Day landings, which included troops from numerous other Allies, marked the start of an 11-month offensive. In the end, it helped liberate occupied Europe and bring an end to Nazi Germany.

Gautier later made his home in Ouistreham, a port town in Normandy, and he started to advocate for world peace.

"It wasn't so long ago. When he was 96 years old and speaking to Reuters news agency in 2019, he said, "I would think perhaps I killed a young lad.

"Perhaps I left children orphaned, maybe I made a mother cry, maybe I made a woman widowed. I was unwilling to do that. I'm a decent guy.

. "

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