Alberta veterans honoured with France's highest award

Several Alberta veterans of the D-Day invasion in the Second World War were given France's highest honour, the Legion d'Honneur, at a ceremony in Calgary on Thursday.

D-Day veterans receive prestigious Legion d'Honneur at Calgary ceremony

Veteran Gordon Rowan was one of three Alberta veterans awarded France's highest honour. (CBC)

Several Alberta veterans of the Second World War were given France's highest honour at a ceremony in Calgary on Thursday.

The veterans were part of the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day in 1944. They were awarded the Legion d'Honneur by the French consul general, Jean-Christophe Fleury, in a ceremony held at the Military Museums. 

Fleury said Canadians made an important contribution to the Allied landing and his country remains grateful.

"Canada and France have a very special relationship and I think this wouldn't have been possible without the sacrifice of Canadians," he said.

Veteran Gordon Rowan from Calgary was present to receive his award at the Military Museums on Thursday night.

On D-Day, he was an 18-year-old seamen ferrying troops to the shores of Normandy.

"It didn't really affect me that much mentally," he said, "but I saw a lot of people in the water and things like that."

Ken Lett of Edmonton was also present to receive his medal. On D-Day, he was a 19-year-old Spitfire pilot flying patrol over the beaches.

"Not really much I can say except how humble I feel to get this honour," he said, "particularly at my age, I'm 91 on Sunday."

There are approximately 600 surviving veterans in Canada who participated in D-Day.

Fleury said all of the survivors will be presented with the French medal over the next two years.