South Tyrone pays tribute to war hero Sir Jack Leslie

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Tributes have been paid to the Co Monaghan aristocrat and war hero Sir Jack Leslie, who had close ties with the South Tyrone area.

The 99 year-old Glaslough resident passed away on Monday.

In November 2011 Sir Jack was guest of honour at a World Wars Remembrance Event hosted by Killeeshil & Clonaneese Historical Society at Parkanaur.

The night was focused upon the personal reminiscences of family who’s loved ones had been involved in the two World Wars.

“Jack spoke eloquently, clearly and with such volume and authority that everyone in the room was gripped with what he had to say. He spoke of those moments in June 1940 leading up to his battalion’s surrender as they fought a desperate rear-guard action at Dunkirk”, said Castlecaulfield historian Jonathan Gray. “We owe so much to Jack and his generation, their determination and resilience but most especially their desire to survive the most appalling adversity.

“We will all remember people like Jack who have sadly passed on, but it is important that we do what we can to honour their memory and learn from their experiences.”

“He spoke of those moments in June 1940 leading up to his battalion’s surrender as they fought a desperate rear-guard action at Dunkirk. Jack’s job as an officer was to support his men in what I’m sure they realised was a doomed mission. Their job was to delay the advancing German Panzers long enough to allow tens of thousands of their comrades to escape from the beaches to their rear. Eventually the time came to surrender and Jack and his men prepared themselves to be taken captive.

“As an audience we were all aware of the sense of history as Jack recounted the horrors of his experiences as he and his men where marched away from the front back east to where they would eventually be imprisoned; in Jacks case until 1945. His recollections where painted with such clarity it wasn’t hard to imagine what he described of the carnage of the roads leading away from Dunkirk as thousands of refugees mingled with advancing columns of German soldiers.

“Everywhere there was destruction. He recounted an episode where a shell landed near them on the road and when they came too all around where the dead and injured, many of them civilians. Jack and his comrades would endure many hardships before he was released in 1945 but he retained an obvious love of life which we are all joyfully aware of.”