Irish D-Day veteran is awarded France's highest military honour

Irish D-Day veteran is awarded France’s highest military honour


Irish D-Day veteran Patrick Gillen, 89, was yesterday awarded France’s highest military honour, the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur. He dedicated his medal to all of his comrades that did not survive World War 2.

Gillen enlisted in the army at 18, and fought as part of an elite unit of French and US special forces who landed on Sword beach on June 6, 1944. It was the first time he set foot on French soil.

The rifleman, now a father of four and grandfather of 12, belonged to 6 Commando, whose mission was to secure the strategically important Pegasus Bridge near Caen.

More than half of his unit became casualties resulting from ferocious counter attacks by German forces attempting to retake the bridge. Gillen himself was never wounded during the violent fighting.

The medal was bestowed to him by the French Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Pierre Thebault, at a very emotional ceremony in the Mercy Hospital in Cork.

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