Colour Sergeant Michael James Francis
14 August 2013
Paula Bellamy, Regional Manager for Allseas Global Logistics in Dubai, reflects on a very proud day for her family and the attendance of HRH Prince Harry.
Colour Sergeant Michael James Francis (nicknamed Connie Francis) joined the Royal Marines in January 1963 and after basic training he served in both 45 and 43 commando.
He was senior LCU (Landing Craft Utility) cox’n in HMS Fearless during the Falklands war where his courageous leadership and excellent personal skills were recognised with the award of the DSM (Distinguished Service Medal)
On the 2nd August Prince Harry opened a new training block named the Francis Building, in honor of Royal Marine Colour Sergeant Michael James Francis. As Col. Sgt. Francis was unable to attend due to health conditions, his wife Marie Francis, Paula his daughter, Darrin his son and other family took his place. While meeting with Mrs. Francis, Harry was heard to have said that her husband was an “amazing man, truly remarkable.”
The new Francis Building is named after C/Sgt Michael who risked life and limb to fight fires on HMS Antelope when she was bombed in the Falklands, then evacuated the wounded from RFA Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram when they were bombed on June 8 1982. Despite the danger – one bomb landed just ten feet from F1 – the craft rescued at least 100 soldiers and soldiers.
C/Sgt Francis’ wife Marie jointly cut the ribbon to the building, sharing the same Commando dagger with HRH. Using the knife to cut the ribbon, the Prince joked afterwards he could use it to “fend off the Taliban for next time”.
Marie said “My husband and all our family are honoured that Prince Harry opened the building in his name. We can’t think of better person to do this,” she said. “Michael never really spoke about his bravery in this specific incident. He was a very modest man. He just said he was trained to do such things and did what was expected of him.”
Colonel Garth Manger, Commanding Officer of 1 Assault Group Royal Marines, said: “Having Prince Harry open Royal Marines Tamar is a great honour and serves to highlight the importance of this new bespoke amphibious base.