FRANCIS Denvir, who has lived in Union Hall for the past 26 years, has a double reason to celebrate this week.
Not only is the former sergeant, who took part in the D-Day Landings in 1944, celebrating his 100th birthday this week, but he is also to receive the Legion d’Honneur medal from the French government.
The French ambassador to Ireland, Jean-Pierre Thébault, will award the prestigious medal to Francis at the Celtic Ross Hotel on Thursday before the family sit down to celebrate his milestone birthday.
‘We only heard the news two weeks ago that he would receive the medal so we’re all very excited about it and it’s going to be a very special day for both him and our family,’ said Adela Nugent, daughter of Francis, speaking to The Southern Star.
‘It was my brother, Brian who initiated the whole process and he pushed it along as it had to go through a lot of channels like the Ministry of Defence in the UK and then through other systems in France before the honour could be bestowed. We were aware that the French government said last year that any veterans of the D-Day Landings in Normandy in June 1944 would be eligible for France’s highest honour.’
Francis joined the Irish Guards in 1939 and was involved in the second wave of landings at Sword beach in Normandy in 1944. Following this, he sustained injuries to his head when his troop headed north into Belgium and the Netherlands. Despite his injuries Francis went on to learn to walk and talk again and married Mary and went on to have eight children.