Irish veteran of D-Day gets France’s highest military honour

Michael d’Alton given Légion d’Honneur by French ambassador Jean Pierre-Thébault

Michael d’Alton (93) is honoured with the Légion d’Honneur on board the French navy vessel Somme at Dublin Port. Video: Daniel O'Connor

 

One of the last known Irish veterans of D-Day landings has been given France’s highest military honour.

Michael d’Alton (93) from Dalkey, Co Dublin, was a sub-lieutenant on a Landing Craft Tank (LCT) bringing Sherman tanks to Omaha Beach on D-Day.

The award was presented to him by the French ambassador Jean Pierre-Thébault on board the French naval ship Somme which was berthed at Dublin Port.

Mr Thébault described Mr d’Alton as among the ranks of the many “outstanding Irish men and women who fought in the French Resistance and were awarded the Légion d’Honneur ”.

He praised Mr d’Alton for playing his part in the defeat of a “monstrous regime” that had occupied France since 1940.

Mr Thébault noted the proximity to Holocaust Memorial Day where the actions of the Nazis in exterminating the Jews of Europe will be remembered.

“Your life, your story and the one of your family illustrate better than many words or books what Europe and its civilisation have experienced during the past century,” he told Mr d’Alton.

Mr Thébault noted that as an Irish man, Michael d’Alton was a volunteer. Mr d’Alton’s father had also fought in the first World War and sought to liberate France.

Michael d’Alton’s service was “a souvenir of your moral education and of what your father did during the first World War”.

Mr d’Alton said he accepted the award on the “clear understanding” that it was not for him alone, but for the “tens of thousands of Allied servicemen who served on D-Day”.

He wished to convey congratulations to those like himself who managed to survive 70 years after D-Day.

Mr d’Alton was accompanied by his son Mark and daughter Sonda to the ceremony which was conducted with full military honours.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States also presented Mr d’Alton with a Distinguished Services Award.

The citation read: “For heroic service under enemy fire as the commanding officer of a tank landing craft taking part in Operation Overlord – the Allied landing in Normandy for the liberation of France on D-Day, June 6th, 1944”.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by the former Irish ambassador to France Rory Montgomery.

After the ceremony was over, Mr Thébault appealed to any surviving Irish veterans of the liberation of France in 1944 and 1945 to get in touch with the French embassy so they can be honoured.

The embassy can be contacted at (01) 277 5000.