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Francis E. Byrne

Obituary for Francis E. Byrne

June 25, 1924 - January 3, 2019
Manchester, New Hampshire | Age 94


Requiem for a True Hero

Most recently, our family and friends, and for that matter, the entire United States of America, and Fran's companion of 15 years, Rita Morrissette have lost one of the best friends we have ever had. Of the fewer than 4000 World War II veterans still living today, Francis Byrne, or Fran, as he preferred to be called, has passed away at the age of 94.

This comes as a tremendous loss to us all, as Fran was not only extremely magnanimous in his generosity but also a man of Honor, distinction, dignity and

Unlike many veterans, Fran was not reserved in speaking about his experiences in the war, even as he suffered from PTSD. He landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day, June 6th, 1944. From Normandy, he fought his way through to the end of the war, whereupon he found himself in a place called The Ardennes Forest in Belgium. This final battle, known as the Battle of the Bulge, was Hitler's last attempt to win the war, and transpired in December,1945. It was the coldest winter on record, and Fran suffered frostbite in both, his feet and ears. In fact, he had lost all feeling in his feet throughout the rest of his life, as the frostbite had therein deadened the nerve endings. He also developed cancer on the top of his ears and nose, said cancer which needed to be cut off whenever it presented itself. However, this great man was not one to complain. He proudly talked about his experiences to whomever was interested in learning about them. A case in point: here is just one story this hero told from the many traumatic episodes he experienced while he was in France.

As his platoon was walking down a road toward a small town in France, a Nazi sniper was shooting at them, picking off his fellow soldiers one by one. Many men from his unit were killed. Fran was determined to find this culprit and put an end to the bloodshed of his friends. He noticed the German sniper shooting from a bell tower in the town Church. He waited patiently for the Nazi to once again rear his head to take another shot. When he did, Fran took careful aim, and was able to shoot and kill the German, thereby preventing any further bloodshed. Fran did not relish in telling this story, but one could sense that he was modestly prideful about saving the lives of more members of his platoon.

Fran also suffered throughout his entire life from shrapnel in his leg. He received this when a soldier walking in front of him stepped on a landmine. The shrapnel went into Fran's shin bone, and could never be removed without doing more nerve damage. Fran didn't receive his Purple Heart for this injury until 75 years later, as the lieutenant in charge of writing up the proper documentation for Fran to receive his Purple Heart, was killed the following day.

As all War veterans will tell you, the true heroes were the ones who never came home. However, Francis Byrne was One True Hero who did come home.
Here is a man who was as humble as the rest of us wish we could be.
Rest in peace, dear friend Fran..... You shall most assuredly be missed...... By all.

A committal service with full military honors was held on Monday, January 7, 2019 in the NH State Veterans Cemetery, Boscawen.
Donations may be made in his memory to the Veterans Count program, Care of Easter Seals of NH, 555 Auburn St, Manchester, NH 03103.

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Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory

1799 Elm St
Manchester, NH 03104
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