The family of a decorated Jewish soldier who fought on D-Day and witnessed Nazi trials say they will “continue his legacy” by teaching schoolchildren the horrors of the war, after he died, aged 94.
Following his death on Sunday, tributes poured in from relatives and friends for Leslie Sutton, who was awarded the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest accolade, in 2016.
Born in Brighton, Leslie fought in a ground crew regiment of the RAF, training on the Isle of Man before landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day.
One of his brothers did not come home, but Leslie survived and returned to the south-east, living in Essex and teaching schoolchildren about the realities of war.
His wartime experience took him into the world of private security, and it was in this capacity, while protecting French President Charles De Gaulle, that he attended the Nuremburg Trials, later commenting on how he had seen “history being made”.
He was well-known in the British Jewish community, because for 20 years he was the standard bearer for the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX), leading the line up to the Cenotaph.
Speaking after Leslie’s funeral in Waltham Abbey on Tuesday, his grandson Daniel Halawi, 35, from Essex, paid tribute to “an amazing man”.
“My grandpa was a big man in the war. My favourite memory was learning from him, his quotes.
“He also tried to put everybody else first. We learned a lot about the Jewish people from him. He wasn’t religious but he had a great affinity for Jewish culture, spent his whole life giving lectures, telling children never to forget.
“Even at the age of 94, living in a care home, he was still teaching other residents.”
Wally, his friend for 70 years, spoke about their shared wartime experiences during the funeral, while his daughter Pamela spoke about him as “an amazing father who respected everybody, he was just the best man in the world”.
On Leslie’s legacy, Daniel said: “We’re going to keep that alive as best we can. I’m going to try to continue his legacy and tell the younger generation about what happened and how they should never forget. He was a very special man.”
Leslie is survived by his daughters Pamela and Yvonne and grandchildren.