A D-Day veteran living in Ireland is to be bestowed with France’s highest honour on his 100th birthday.
Francis Denvir, originally from Glasgow’s East End, will enjoy double celebrations in West Cork when the French ambassador to Ireland pins the Legion d’Honneur medal on his chest this Thursday.
A former sergeant in a tank troop with the Irish Guards, he was among the second wave of landings at Sword beach in Normandy in June 1944.
Mr Denvir’s daughter, Adela Nugent, said her father personally applied in June for his D-Day role to be marked.
“He was delighted, absolutely thrilled when he heard,” Ms Nugent said.
“He was the type of man, like a lot of veterans of the war, who would say: ‘Look, it happened, you got on with it, don’t talk about it.’
“But it’s a huge recognition at his age. He was never a man looking for accolades.”
Mr Denvir, whose grandfather emigrated from Lurgan in Co Armagh to Glasgow in the 1800s, joined the Irish Guards in 1939.
“He did not want to join a Scottish regiment,” said Ms Nugent. “The Irish Guards was the only regiment that had a Catholic priest assigned to it and he is a devout Catholic. He would be very proud of the fact that he was in the Irish Guards.”
Mr Denvir spent the early war years training tank drivers before joining the Normandy landings.
He married Mary, originally from Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath, in Glasgow in 1942. The couple fondly recall how they had to break ration orders to get enough dried fruit to bake a wedding cake in secret.
Mr Denvir led a tank troop from Sword through northern France, into Belgium, and to the Battle of Arnhem in the Netherlands, depicted in the film A Bridge Too Far.
He was severely injured by shrapnel to the head when his tank was blown up. While in a coma, he was airlifted to the Royal Hospital in Bath where he woke several days later, confused by the voices of injured Polish fighters in the same ward.
Despite the limited rehab available at the time, Mr Denvir learned how to walk and talk again and went on to have eight children.
The couple moved to Union Hall in Cork in 1989 after visiting the area for holidays for many years.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved