World War veteran’s funeral hears of role in D-Day landings

Frank Denvir, one of Ireland’s longest surviving participants, laid to rest in Co Cork

Francis Denvir on his 100th brthday in 2015. Photograph: Denis Boyle

Francis Denvir on his 100th brthday in 2015. Photograph: Denis Boyle

 

Mourners were asked “to remember and honour those men who gave their lives for freedom and democracy” at the funeral of one of Ireland’s longest surviving second World War veterans on Friday.

Frank Denvir, who died on Wednesday aged 102, was laid to rest in Kilfachtnabeg Cemetery in Glandore, Co Cork, surrounded by friends and family.

Funeral celebrant, Fr Gerry Thornton had begun the funeral Mass at St Bridget’s Church in nearby Union Hall by describing Denvir’s life as one “well lived” before he recalled how he and his wife, Mary had come to love the beauty of west Cork after they moved to Union Hall in 1989.

But it was an earlier chapter in his life that was recalled by his daughter, Rosemary when, leading the prayers of the faithful, she asked mourners to remember the men who took up arms when the second World War broke out.

Denvir had joined the Irish Guards in 1939 and spent the early years of the war training tank drivers before taking part in the D-Day landings when he and his comrades in the Second Battalion Irish Guards Armoured Division were among the second wave of British forces to land on Sword beach.

After landing at Sword Beach, Denvir led a tank troop through northern France as the Allies liberated France and then Belgium before taking part in the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944 where he suffered serious shrapnel wounds to the head.

The Netherlands battle was recalled by retired Capt Michael Bevan of the Irish Guards when, as he prepared to read the regimental prayer he said he imagined Denvir was among the men, who, regardless of denominations, recited the prayer with the chaplain on the eve of the epic battle.

Tom Mountain, speaking on behalf of Irish Guards Association Chairman Ian Robertson, said it was a great honour to be able “to pay tribute to probably the longest surviving member of the Irish Guards family who served in the second World War.”

He said Mr Robertson had said it was evident when he met Denvir at his 100th birthday when he was honoured by France with the Legion d’Honneur “that he was proud to have served in the Micks [the Irish Guards] and to have played his part in the liberation of France and Belgium.”

“The regimental Adjutant and the Regimental Lt Colonel have asked me to pass the feeling of great sadness and respect felt by the entire Irish Guards regiment to the family at the passing of such a distinguished soldier from our ranks- Rest in Peace, Sgt Frank Denvir,” he said.

Denvir is survived by his wife Mary and adult children Rosemary, Francis, Brian, Eileen, Cecelia, Clare, Terence and Adela and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.