War veteran Fernand Labrie (left) was presented with France's highest award, The Legion of Honour, by Nicolas Baudouin (right) the Consul General of France in B.C., at a ceremony at Sunridge Place on Nov. 17. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Vancouver Island veteran receives France’s highest honour

Fernand Labrie presented with The Legion of Honour for services during the war

A war veteran who is a resident of Sunridge Place in Duncan was given France’s highest award on Nov. 17.

Capt. (Ret.) Fernand Labrie was presented with The Legion of Honour, the highest national order of France, both military and civil, by Nicolas Baudouin, the consul general of France in B.C. at a ceremony at the senior centre in Duncan.

The award was given to Labrie, who is 100 years old, in recognition of his heroic service to the people of France in the liberation campaign during the Second World War.

Baudouin told Labrie he felt privileged and humbled to stand before him and present him with The Legion of Honour, which was first established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte and is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the world.

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“Remembrance Day is important in both France and Canada as a time to remember those who fell in combat,” he said.

“The day is a strong reminder that freedom and prosperity comes with a price. It’s important to remember you [Labrie] and others from Canada who fought in the war.”

Labrie’s daughter Pierrette Morgan said her father joined Le Régiment de Maisonneuve in Montreal in 1940 and, after a brief training period, was shipped out to England.

She said her father participated in the unsuccessful Dieppe Raid in 1942 in which 3,623 of the 6,086 mostly Canadian soldiers who landed were killed, wounded or became prisoners of war, but never went ashore.

“They sat out in the channel bouncing around in a landing craft while being targeted by German fire until they returned to England,” Morgan said.

Morgan said Labrie landed on Juno Beach in France six days after D-Day and his regiment fought its way into northern Germany and was there when the Germans surrendered in the spring of 1945.

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“During his war service, my father was in regimental intelligence as a cipher specialist,” she said.

“He spent time during the war in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, as well as the United Kingdom. He returned to Canada in January, 1946, and was one of just two of the original Le Régiment de Maisonneuve who shipped out in 1940 to return to Montreal for demobilization.”

Morgan said her father reenlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces in 1947 and trained as a glider pilot, and received his wings, but a gliding accident in 1949 left him severely injured and on the non-active list.

He went on to serve in a number of other roles in Canada and overseas before finally retiring in 1973 with the rank of captain.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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Courage Remembered

 

War veteran Fernand Labrie was presented with a Quilt of Honour by Joan Irving at a ceremony at Sunridge Place on Nov. 17. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

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