22 April 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Captain Sir John Leslie, one of the last surviving veterans of the Second World War and one of Co Monaghan’s most celebrated and beloved citizens, died in his 100th year early last Monday morning at the Castle Leslie family seat in Glaslough.

“The Leslie family are sad to announce that Captain Sir John Leslie Baronet (age 99) passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning with the dawn chorus surrounded by his family,” read the announcement of the death which appeared on the Castle Leslie Estate Facebook page.

Sir Jack, as he was popularly and affectionately known, was due to celebrate his 100th birthday in December (Monaghan Co Museum had made provisional preparations for a special event to mark the occasion).

He was remembered by his family in the immediate aftermath of his passing as “an active Knight of Malta, art connoisseur, water colourist, ecologist, disco-dancer and restorer of historic buildings” – a description which gives some inkling of the Renaissance nature of his character but which provides only the bare outline of a vivacious and multi-faceted personality whose claims to fame were legion.

In most recent times he had received conspicuous, if perhaps belated, recognition for his distinguished war service, being presented in November of last year with the Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur (the National Order of the Legion of Honour) at the French Ambassador’s residence in Dublin to salute his contribution to the nation’s liberation.

Having enlisted in the Second Battalion of the Irish Guards in August 1937, when aged 21, he joined the British Expeditionary Force that landed in France in May 1940. He commanded a section that battled for two hours, with what was later described as “exceptional gallantry”, to defend Boulogne Sur Mer from the advancing Panzer divisions of the German Army, an engagement regarded as crucial in enabling retreating British troops to reach Dunkirk and safe transportation away from the marauding German forces.

Sir Jack was captured and spent the next five years as a prisoner of war in Saltzburg, being believed for a time killed in action.

During his time as a POW, he risked his life to spirit out a postcard to the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (who was a first cousin of …


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