Bomber Command pilot Leslie Valentine sits in the Prime Minister's chair in the cabinet room in Downing Street, he met the Prime Minister David Cameron who presented him with a Defence medal for services in the second world war.
Leslie Valentine, born in the East End of Glasgow, was believed to be the last survivor of the dozen RAF light-bomber pilots who swooped only yards above the beaches of Normandy on D-Day to drop smoke canisters as cover for the invading British and allied forces.
The boys on the ground said later that the Boston light-bombers flew so low – roughly the height of a single-story building – that the troops hit the water or sand for fear of being decapitated.
He went on to work for GD Searle, now known as Monsato, until his retirement at the age of 65 and his settlement in Oxfordshire.
His son Dudley, who lives in England but considers himself very much Scottish, said after his father’s death: “I have a million words running through my head, but the one thing to say is that I am just very, very proud to call him my father.”For the final four months of his life, Leslie Valentine was cared for in Fewcott House Nursing Home in Fewcott, Oxfordshire, where he died. He is survived by his son Dudley, daughter Una and grandchildren David and Alistair.
During his visit to London, he was given VIP treatment, including a chauffeured limousine, a tour of 10 Downing Street and a visit to the Bomber Command memorial in London’s Green Park.
Leslie Valentine was born in Dennistoun, north of the Clyde in the East End of Glasgow, on 14 May, 1918, while the Great War was still raging, to Dr Leslie Valentine and his wife Katherine.
We made it.” Once his contribution to the liberation of France was recognised, Valentine was awarded the Croix de Guerre (Cross of War), with a Silver Star by the French government.
He went on to become a UK sales manager for a major pharmaceutical company, retiring to the Bicester region of Oxfordshire where he had trained and been based during much of the war.
“I’d anticipated that it was going to be a little hairy,” he said years later with his characteristic modesty.
I had just 46 seconds to let off four canisters of smoke.
In September 1939, with war declared, he signed up with the HLI – nicknamed “the Glesga Keelies” – and fought with their 2nd Battalion in France until the Dunkirk evacuation.