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WW2: Irish D-Day veteran Pat Gillen dies aged 89
30 December 2014

[Posted by BBC News on 28 December 2014 : http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30616417]

An Irish D-Day veteran, who was honoured by France earlier this month for his role in the World War Two operation, has died at the age of 89.

Patrick Gillen, from County Galway, joined the British Army and was among the first wave of troops to invade Sword beach, Normandy, on 6 June 1944.

On 8 December he was awarded France's highest honour, the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, at a Cork hospital where he was being treated for illness.

Mr Gillen died at his home on Saturday.

The father-of-four had survived WW2 without injury and returned to the Republic of Ireland to work as a public relations manager.

He had planned to return to Normandy this year for the 70th anniversary of D-Day but was prevented from making the journey by ill health.

Three weeks ago, the French ambassador to Ireland, Jean-Pierre Thebault, travelled to the Cork hospital to present the award to the veteran in person, in recognition of the part he played in helping to liberate France.

Mr Gillen dedicated his Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur to all his fellow Irishmen who fought in WW2.

"In accepting this award, other brave Irish men, thousands of young men, who lost their lives in pursuit of peace, remain in my memory," he said at the time.

"This award is as much theirs as mine."

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