France honours 100-year-old B.C. veteran with Legion of Honour medal


Fernand Labrie could also be 100 years outdated, however his reminiscences from the time across the 1942 Dieppe Raid are as vivid as ever.

He was 20, a soldier within the Canadian Forces’ Régiment de Maisonneuve, aboard a ship carrying TNT, on standby to combat Nazis on the French seashore throughout the important Second World War operation.

“I’ll be sincere with you, I wasn’t afraid. I had a coverage: reside at this time, f–k tomorrow. That was our motto. I could not communicate English then, however that phrase I knew,” he mentioned with amusing. 

Labrie’s contributions towards liberating France can be acknowledged on Nov. 17, when he is because of to be made a Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour.

The honour could be traced all the way in which again to Napoleon Bonaparte, later Napoleon I, who created the award in 1802 to reward French residents for his or her service, irrespective of social or hereditary concerns.

The ceremony will happen in Labrie’s hometown of Duncan, B.C., and can be led by the Consul General of France in British Columbia, Nicolas Baudouin.

Baudouin mentioned the popularity is timed to mark the eightieth anniversary of the Dieppe Raid, which was largely fought by Canadian troopers. 

Personnel touchdown craft draw away from a motor torpedo boat to begin their run-in to the seashores throughout the Dieppe Raid in 1942. (Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada)

“It’s essential to acknowledge those that got here from afar, from Canada, to liberate my nation throughout the Second World War, so we always remember these mates and allies,” mentioned Baudouin.

“They did one thing very brave, to hitch the military and combat for values we care about, particularly, freedom and liberty.”

Born in Montmorency Falls, Que., Labrie enlisted as an 18-year-old and shipped out to England in 1940, not understanding a phrase of English.

The Régiment de Maisonneuve did not find yourself combating at Dieppe, though Labrie did serve by way of to the tip of the Second World War, touchdown on France’s Juno Beach quickly after D-Day in 1944 and combating by way of France, Belgium, Germany and Holland.

Family photograph of Fernand Labrie, centre, on his return to Canada from the Second World War, Jan. 10, 1946. (submitted by Labrie household)

He re-enlisted after the warfare and went on to turn out to be a profession soldier, even surviving a aircraft crash in 1949. He retired from the Canadian Armed Forces in 1973. 

Daughter Pierrette Morgan mentioned her father does not typically discuss his wartime experiences, however the Legion of Honour bestowal has opened the door to some tales the household is listening to for the primary time.

“We’re thrilled for my father,” she mentioned. “He’s making very mild of the honour however I believe lots of troopers did not really feel the significance of what they had been doing. They did not really feel particular.”

That stays the case to at this time, though Labrie will concede he’s a tiny bit humbled to obtain the Legion of Honour medal.

“It appears fairly spectacular. I by no means anticipated it. I used to be only one of the tens of millions, so why me?” he mentioned.

Labrie joined the Régiment de Maisonneuve in 1940 and landed on France’s Juno Beach quickly after D-Day in 1944, earlier than combating in France, Belgium, Germany and Holland. (submitted by Labrie household)

Baudouin mentioned his nation’s efforts to honour veterans like Labrie are significantly significant at this moment in historical past.

“Unfortunately, as a result of of the Russian aggression, warfare is again in Europe. I believe it is necessary that everybody acknowledges the assistance we acquired [during the Second World War] and that these ties which might be solid in very tough occasions stay robust,” Baudouin mentioned. 

To date, France has awarded 1,154 medals to Canadian troopers, together with 232 in B.C.

Labrie will formally obtain the Legion of Honour medal in a ceremony on Nov. 17. (submitted by Labrie household)


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