Belfast Telegraph

Normandy veteran John Leishman dies at the age of 95

By Staff Reporter

A Normandy veteran from Northern Ireland - who once had his spark plugs changed by the Queen - has died.

First Minister Peter Robinson led the tributes to John Leishman (95), describing the pensioner as "a true hero and gentleman".

Broadcaster Stephen Nolan travelled with the World War II veteran to Normandy for his Story of a Lifetime series, where he discovered the pride and pain of battle had not been forgotten.

The BBC presenter described John as "my friend" and "a true gentleman. John sang during every second of our filming," he said. "He had a beautiful soul."

John - who lived near Dundonald in east Belfast - had served in the 51st Highland division as an infantryman, providing support for soldiers on the front line.

Three years ago, the then 92-year-old met the Queen when she visited Northern Ireland during her two-day Diamond Jubilee trip. Proudly displaying his medals as he stood in line to meet Her Majesty at Titanic Belfast, John saluted and leaned forward to remind the monarch of their last meeting.

"Good morning Ma'am - I remember you!" Scots-born John said, before reminding her that she had once changed his spark plugs when she served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

"You had dungarees on you," added John, who said greeting the Queen was one of the highlights of his life along with his marriage to Moira woman Florence Lennon in 1941. John met her when he first came to Northern Ireland in 1940 but he was quickly sent off to war, seeing action in El Alamein, Sicily, Italy, Dunkirk and Normandy.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph