John Leishman – a Normandy veteran dies at the age of 95

First Minister Peter Robinson Paid his respects to John Leishman, a Normandy veteran who died at the age of 95. He added that John was a true gentleman and a national hero.

John Leisham first appeared in the spotlight when a renowned BBC broadcaster Stephen Nolan took John to Normandy. The Journey was made for Stephen’s famous BBC series ‘Story of a Life Time’. The aim of the series is to tell the personal stories of those who took part in the war, in the light of the events that shaped their contribution in the war. Stephen Nolan was taken aback by the presence of pride and pain from the wartime memories in John’s personality. Stephen described John as an extremely lively and gentle human being. He said that despite his vivid memories of the war, John respected his life and time with friends and family. Always smiling and never missing an opportunity to sing, John surprised and impressed everyone he met. Describing his return to the Normandy with Stephen, John expressed his feelings as a mixture of tears and bullets.

Scots-born John lived in a small town near Belfast, called Dundonald. He served as an infantryman in the 51st Highland division of British Army. He provided support to the soldiers fighting in the frontline, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

John went to meet the Queen three years ago, when Her Majesty was visiting Northern Ireland on her Diamond Jubilee Celebration. The visit was undoubtedly historically significant for the Queen but John was excited many folds to shake the hands of the Queen. Standing in the line to meet Her Majesty the Queen, John was displaying her medals from the Second World War. When John got his opportunity to greet the Queen he came close to her and reminded her of their last meeting.

John reminded the Monarch that she had once changed his spark plugs during her services with the Auxialary Territorial Services.

John described his meeting with the Queen as one of the best moments of his life. He added that the other highlight of his life was his marriage to Florence Lennon in 1941. John Leishman had served on many fronts during the Second World War, contributing to actions in El Alamein, Sicily, Italy, Dunkirk and then in Normandy. John Leishman has died at the age of 95, and will certainly be remembered as a symbol of resilience and bravery for generations to come.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE