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Tributes paid to forgotten hero of the liberation of Paris who died from coronavirus

TRIBUTES have been paid to Rafael Gomez Nieto, the last member of the resistance unit that helped liberate Paris in 1944, following his death from coronavirus.

The Spanish-civil-war veteran was 99 when he died in a Strasbourg nursing home last week.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that with Mr Gomez’s passing, “part of our French and European history has gone, that of the Spanish civil war and the second world war, that of the odyssey of Spanish republicans engaged in the fight to suppress the nazi yoke.”

He was part of the mostly Spanish La Nueve unit that crossed the English Channel as part of the 1944 D-Day operations that led to France’s liberation from nazi occupation.

His armoured vehicle was named Guernica, after the Spanish Basque village destroyed in a 1937 air raid by German and Italian planes supporting fascist leader General Francisco Franco.

La Neuve was the first allied unit to reach the French capital, arriving in August 1944 shortly before the German surrender.

But its role in the liberation of Paris was not acknowledged until 2004, when a commemorative plaque was unveiled.

Mr Gomez is one of the more than 8,000 people in France who have died from coronavirus. The country now has more than 68,000 confirmed cases.

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