Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 27°C

min temp: 19°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

A forest fire near Kingfisher Lake

Crews were called just before 2pm to the fire near Kingfisher Lake, just off the B1107.

Artist's impression of 'Jubilee Place' and Jubilee Walk, one of the new quarters put forward in the Haverhill town centre masterplan.

Members of the public will be able to find out more about plans to revitalise Haverhill town centre when a bus parks up for three days from tomorrow.

Dermot O'Leary

Colchester boy Dermot O’Leary has been announced as the new ceremonial head of a north Essex hospice.

The Quay Theatre in Sudbury.

Only half of those responding to an online survey about Sudbury have visited historic market town’s key tourist attraction, figures have revealed.

Elderly woman taken to hospital with life threatening injuries

Police say injuries are “life-threatening”.

Morgan and Harry Hutchins stay cool during the day, but how you cool down at night?

There is only so much relief the cold side of the pillow can bring, so here are our ten tips for sleeping in a heatwave.

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge

A Suffolk MP and former housing entrepreneur has claimed staff would turn down a pay rises because they would lose their tax credits.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer has blamed lost paperwork at the official parliamentary watchdog for the suspension of his official expenses card earlier this year.

The launch of Jump Street in Colchester, the first dedicated trampoline park. Josh Newman (left) and Luke Bennett in action.

Essex’s first purpose-built trampoline park has opened up.

Crowds of people head to the beach at Felixstowe to enjoy the scorching temperatures.
Ken Webb,Livia Button and Sandra Webb celebrating the hot weather.

Temperatures as high as 28 degrees have already been recorded in both counties, with Suffolk predicted to peak at 31.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages