Hubert Faure, one of the last surviving members of a French commando team which took part in the 1944 Normandy landings, has died aged 106, with President Emmanuel Macron leading the tributes on Saturday.
Macron expressed "the gratitude of the nation" and sent his condolences to Faure's family in a statement, saying the former navy commando provided "a wonderful lesson in commitment and heroism".
Faure was one of 177 French-led commandos who landed on the Normandy beaches on "D-Day" on June 6, 1944 in the first wave of Allied landings in Nazi-occupied France, the largest seaborne invasion in history.
As part of the "Keiffer Commandos", named after the unit's head Lieutenant Philippe Kieffer one of the first French fighters to join Charles de Gaulle's Free France resistance movement, Faure landed on the beach at Colleville in northern France.
The only French soldiers to be involved in the D-Day landings, they achieved their objective of securing German fortifications at Ouistreham before joining up with Allied forces to drive on further. Ten of their number were dead by the end of the day.
"They were the soul of our nation," said the armed forces ministry in a statement announcing Faure's death which leaves just one living member of the Kieffer Commandos, 98-year-old Leon Gautier.
Faure had been imprisoned in 1940 but escaped and reached England where he joined the Free French Forces.
There, in the spring of 1944 he joined the 1st Battalion Marine Commando Fusiliers, which became better known as the "Keiffer Commandos".
It took another 75 years before a statue of Keiffer, who died in 1962, was erected in Ouistreham.
Some of the survivors of his commando group waited until 2004, the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, to receive the Legion of Honour, France's highest award.