French World War I vet dies at 109

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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA

PARIS - Leon Weil, one of France's last surviving veterans of World War I who was also a member of the Resistance in World War II, earning decorations for both conflicts, has died. He was 109.

Weil, who fought on the Western Front in World War I participating in bayonet charges, died Tuesday at the Val-de-Grace military hospital in Paris, the national veterans office said Wednesday. His death leaves France with just six officially recognized surviving veterans of the Great War.

Weil was mobilized in August 1916 at age 20 and sent to the Western Front.

"He who says that he was not afraid during the war is a liar," Weil said in an interview published last November by the veterans' office in which he recounted bayonet charges under fire.

"The Germans were like us, poor guys getting beaten up for nothing," he said.

In World War II, Weil was a member of an intelligence network for the Resistance against the Nazi occupation of France, the veterans' office said. He went under the code name "Victor."

He was decorated as a combatant in both wars and was awarded France's highest award, the Legion of Honor.

After 1945, he built a career in sales of women's fashion.

Weil, born July 16, 1896, was a former boxer and avid swimmer, who swam until age 102.

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