Edmonton

France honours Bonnyville, Alta., WWII veteran on Canada Day

William McGregor, a 92-year-old WWII veteran, is being awarded the rank of Knight in the Legion of Honour, the highest national order of France, for his services as a medic on the beaches of Normandy during the war.

Medic William McGregor, 92, awarded the rank of Knight in the Legion of Honour

France will award William McGregor, 92, the rank of Knight in the Legion of Honour, the highest national order of France, on Canada Day for his duty during WWII. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

This Canada Day will be one to remember for William McGregor and his family. 

Today the 92-year-old WWII veteran will be awarded the rank of Knight in the Legion of Honour, the highest national order of France, for his services as a medic on the beaches of Normandy during the war.

 The presentation will be made in Bonnyville, Alta., 240 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, during Canada Day celebrations Wednesday afternoon.

McGregor was made aware of the honour earlier this year when he received a letter from France's ambassador to Canada.

"Through you, France remembers the sacrifice of all of your compatriots who came to liberate French soil," Nicolas Chapuis wrote.
The Legion of Honour was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. (www.Legiondhonneur.fr)

"Please allow me to express once more France's respect for your contribution to the combat that led to the liberation of my country."

The timing of the honour is a mystery to McGregor.

"It's kind of odd, you know, after 60 or 70 years, but getting another one anyway."

The insignia will be added to his collection of medals from a time so long ago, but at times seem like yesterday.

"Blood and mud … so many casualties," he recalls. "I still wake up and hear and feel it."

McGregor served with the 11th Field Ambulance, attached to the Essex Scottish Regiment, Regimental Aid Post as a medic, learning on the job.

"I had no medical experience," he told CBC reporter Travis McEwan. "I was straight out of the bush, and a farmer."

Shortly after D-Day he landed on the beaches of Normandy. But he doesn't remember much of his time in France.

"Jumping off and running for shore."

The Legion of Honour was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.

The French National Order of the Legion of Honour is similar to the Order of Canada, and is given to veterans for their role in liberating France.


 

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