Friday, June 6 marks the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, commonly known as D-Day. The Comox Valley Record commemorates the historic day with a look at a living legend who was there, June 6, 1944.
June 6 marks the day in 1944 when Allied soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy to begin the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany.
Friday also marks the 93rd birthday of Stocky Edwards, who will be knighted that day by the French government for his actions during D-Day and the Battle of France.
It’s another accolade bestowed upon the Comox resident who is a decorated Second World War fighter pilot ace.
“Unexpected,” Stocky said of the rank of Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour. “A bit late…You never know.”
He was nominated for the honour by longtime friend, Syd Burrows, who served 33 years in the air force.
“He’s one of my mentors,” said Burrows, recalling when he was a young flying officer and Stocky was a squadron commander. “He’s a legend. I just love him. If the French are going to give this medal away, fine. Who better than Stocky?”
Canada’s highest scoring ace in the Western Desert Campaign, Edwards earned respect for his quick reflexes, flying abilities and shooting instincts while serving with 260 Squadron in the Western Desert Air Force in North Africa in 1943.
During the war he flew Spitfires after first piloting a Kittyhawk, which has since been refurbished by Vintage Wings of Canada.
By the start of 1943 when he was a flight commander, Stocky had earned a Distinguished Flying Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for acts of valour or courage. Edwards is also an Order of Canada recipient and Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame inductee. In 2009, he was named one of the 100 most influential Canadians in aviation.
He is also the subject of a book, The Desert Hawk, penned by Barbara Hehner.
When interviewed, Stocky had yet to decide if he would receive his latest award by mail or attend a ceremony in Ottawa.
“It’s hanging in abeyance,” he said with a laugh.
Still a physically active man, Stocky and his wife Toni enjoy walks at Goose Spit.