In a wheelchair and to applause, Léon Gautier was able to discover a commemorative plaque bearing the inscription: “This centenary tree was planted on October 27, 2022 on the occasion of the 100th birthday of Mr. Léon Gautier, resident of the commune of Ouistreham Riva-Bella and veteran of the 177 French Commando Kieffer who landed on June 6, 1944 in Normandy”.
“It’s been more than 70 years since the landing… It’s a memory that we don’t forget,” said the former “green beret” to the journalists present.
“War is not beautiful. The worst thing we can see is a war. Because we kill people face to face who have never done anything, who have a family, children. All this to achieve what?”, he added, dressed in a suit and tie.
Settled in Calvados in the 1990s, Léon Gautier, born on October 27, 1922 in Rennes, fights tirelessly “for peace” and for the memory of his comrades, from schools to commemorations.
Grand officer of the Legion of Honor, he notably put on his green beret again to participate, with a German veteran, in the international ceremony of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 2014.
Hubert Faure, penultimate member of the Kieffer commando, died in April 2021 at the age of 106.
The 177 marine riflemen of the Free French Forces of the Kieffer commando, integrated into the Royal Marine Commando No. 4, are the only Frenchmen in uniform to have taken part in the Allied landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944.
Bearing the name of Lieutenant Commander Philippe Kieffer, who had formed this group of volunteers, the commando, trained in Scotland, had landed on June 6, 1944 at Sword Beach, in the immediate vicinity of where Thursday’s ceremony took place.