Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 3°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Ipswich: Tributes paid to humble hero Aubrey Francis who fought in D-Day Landings and was honoured by the Queen

15:25 08 April 2014

L-R Carol Francis (daughter), Aubrey Francis, Emmie Francis

L-R Carol Francis (daughter), Aubrey Francis, Emmie Francis

The family of a highly decorated war hero and honoured firefighter from Ipswich have spoken proudly of their loved one as they mourn his recent death.

shares
Aubrey FrancisAubrey Francis

Aubrey Francis, 89, fought in the D-Day landings, recaptured Nazi treasures and was invited to meet the Queen during a fascinating life steeped in remarkable achievements.

To his loving family, however, Mr Francis will be remembered fondly as “Dick the Wit”, the gentle giant who could always raise a smile.

Emmie Francis, his wife of more than 65 years, said: “He was such a lovely man, he was always making people laugh – right up until the very end.

“If you searched the Earth you would not find anyone better.”

Raised in Grimwade Street, Mr Francis joined the fire brigade as a 16-year-old boy but was called up two years later to fight for his country in the Second World War.

His campaign in the Royal Scots began with the Normandy Landings and included daring escapes from enemy capture, ferocious battles as well as daring raids to recapture hordes of looted artwork from the Nazis.

Returning to England, he met Emmie, who was working as a land girl in Sutton Hoo, and together they started a family. Mr Francis also returned to the fire service, enjoying a distinguished career of more than 30 years that saw him made guest of honour at the 60th anniversary celebration of the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service in 2008.

Despite his remarkable wartime achievements, which included meetings with Churchill and Eisenhower, Mr Francis rarely spoke of his time in the Army.

“Considering all that he did, he was so humble,” said Becky Keenor, his 28-year-old granddaughter.

“He never boasted about anything, he just came up with all these amazing stories,” added his daughter Valerie Roberts, 60.

“He was such a decent man.”

Over later years, Mr Francis took part in a number of Remembrance pilgrimages to Normandy, where he was greeted with a hero’s welcome.

Jimmy Roberts, 55, his son-in-law, who accompanied Mr Francis on the journeys, said: “I would have been proud if he was my father.”

Carol, another of his daughters, described him as an “amazing man.”

“Everybody loved him, he was a friend to lots of people.”

“He’s left a big hole in our hearts.”

Recently Mr Francis was invited to meet the Queen having been selected as a recipient of the Monarch’s traditional Maundy money in recognition of his amazing achievements.

Mr Francis died peacefully in Ipswich Hospital on March 20, having first fallen ill at Christmas.

His family have thanked the “amazing work” of the nurses on Woodbridge Ward, who “did absolutely everything they could for him”.

The funeral will be held on Friday at St Andrew’s Church in Rushmere.

The family has asked for no flowers but donations to the Fire Fighters’ Charity.

shares

0 comments

Mark Bee and his deputy Lisa Chambers at Endeavour House in Ipswich after they saw off last year's challenge to their leadership.

Conservative councillor Mark Bee is to step down as leader of Suffolk County Council after four years in the role.

Voting isn't the only form of political engagement

The ideological machine that is meant to serve us has gone wrong and is tyrannising us, but that doesn’t mean we should boycott the ballot box

Suffolk has an ageing population - but can we cope?

Dramatic increases in the average age of people in Suffolk have been highlighted in a report which reveals that in some areas nearly one in 10 are expected to be aged 85 or over in the next two decades.

Damage to overhead wires between Diss and Stowmarket - photo courtesy of Greater Anglia

Rail users face an afternoon and evening of severe delays on routes between Norwich and London, after high winds caused damage to overhead power lines between Stowmarket and Diss.

There is the potential for sweeping changes at Braintree District Council come election day – though in practice that is unlikely to happen.

Klaudia Sokolowska

Police are searching for a 14-year-old girl in Felixstowe who has gone missing for the third time in three months.

Hunting for eggs

Will you be feeding the newborn lambs at The Museum of East Anglian Life, trying your hand at archery at Ickworth House or hunting eggs at The Middy’s Steam up this weekend?

Princess Anne meets Livability Treetops Service Manager Janet Bilton during her visit to Livability Treetops in Colchester on Tuesday.

The Princess Royal flew in to Colchester today as part of her work supporting a disability charity.

Firefighters were called to the house fire

Firefighters were called to a house fire in Stowmarket this afternoon.

Fears over future of probation service in Suffolk and elsewhere in East Anglia

Criminals jailed for up to a year could be supervised over the phone and use kiosks to report to the probation service electronically once they are released back in the community.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages