Last Surviving Member Of French D-Day Commando At Normandy Dies At 100

For many of us, hearing about WWII D-Day is something from history books; however, Leon Gautier lived it. He was the last surviving member of the French D-Day Commando at Normandy in 1944. Now, there are no survivors. Gautier has died at the age of 100.

Romain Bail, the mayor of Ouistreham, where Gautier lived the last years of his life, announced Gautier’s death. According to Bail, Gautier had been hospitalized for about a week due to lung trouble. Bail called Gauiter “a father to us, a grandfather to us, an important figure of daily life.” He explained that he was not only “the hero of 1944, the hero of June 6, but also the little old guy that everyone knew.”

When Gautier was just 17 years old, he enlisted in the French Navy and officially joined the war against Germany. Along with other French troops, he fled to London where he ended up joining the elite “Commando Kieffer” unit which was led by General Charles de Gaulle. He was one of the first to set foot in Normandy on D-Day.

Less than a month before his death, on June 6, 2023, Gautier returned to the beaches of Normandy for a commemoration ceremony. French President Emmanuel Macron led the 79th anniversary tribute. 

At the June 6th event, Gautier explained that he would never forget his friend standing next to him who died that day in 1944. He also warned about the importance of peace.

That was not the first time Gautier had talked about peace and keeping peace. In 2019, he told The Associated Press, “The younger generations have to be told, they need to know. War is ugly. War is misery, misery everywhere.”

It was important to Gautier throughout his life to make sure others know how important it is to avoid future wars. Besides giving interviews and taking part in commemorations, Gautier also helped contribute to the museum in Ouistreham, a coastal town that not only became his home but was also where the Allies landed on June 6, 1944.

Rest in peace.