Montreal

WW2 veteran Jean Trempe dead at 94

The Second World War veteran who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day returned to Juno Beach last June to mark the 75th anniversary of that seaborne invasion that secured victory for the Allied forces.

Former corporal returned to Juno Beach last year for 75th anniversary of D-Day

The former corporal Jean Trempe, in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue in June 2019. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Quebec Second World War veteran Jean Trempe, who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, has died. He was 94.

Trempe died Wednesday morning in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, said Denis Duguay, president of Royal Canadian Legion branch 117 in Sorel-Tracy. Trempe, who was born in Montreal, grew up near Sorel-Tracy and had been a branch member for 31 years. 

He had been in good spirits despite poor health, said Duguay — telling jokes right up to the end.

The Sorel-Tracy Legion honoured Trempe in person last November, he said. The flag at the Legion was flying at half mast Friday.

Trempe, a Bren gunner and artilleryman, had served as a corporal with Montreal's primary reserve infantry regiment, the Régiment de Maisonneuve.

At last year's ceremonies commemorating D-Day, Trempe dipped his foot into the waters at Juno Beach — the shore he had stormed 75 years earlier, alongside 14,000 other Canadians.

"War is like a lottery," he mused, emotional, a few minutes later. "If you come back, you're lucky. You're unlucky if you die."

In a statement issued Friday, Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay offered his condolences.

"As a decorated military hero and Veteran of the Second World War, Mr. Trempe was a great Canadian," MacAulay said in his statement. "I had the honour to spend time with him recently as we marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day in June 2019.

"To hear his stories and experiences from his time in Normandy – and in the days and weeks leading up to the end of the Second World War – I know his legacy will continue to inspire us and pay tribute to all Canadians who sacrifice so much every day in the cause of peace and freedom.

"While we mourn his passing, we should celebrate his life and service to Canada."

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