Maple Ridge veteran awarded France’s highest honour

Ronald Bath, right, was awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honour on Monday afternoon. (Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)Ronald Bath, right, was awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honour on Monday afternoon. (Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)
People came from all over to congratulate Bath on the honour. (Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)People came from all over to congratulate Bath on the honour. (Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)
(Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)(Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)
Philippe Sutter, the French consul general for Western Canada pins the medal on Bath. (Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)Philippe Sutter, the French consul general for Western Canada pins the medal on Bath. (Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)
(Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)(Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)

Ronald Bath still has a couple weeks to go before turning 95 but he received a special early birthday present on Monday.

The former Royal Canadian Navy sailor was presented with the National Order of the Legion of Honour at his home in Greystone Manor.

The medal is France’s highest award, on par with the Order of Canada. Bath was presented with it for his service in aid of liberating France during World War II.

“I’m surprised,” the veteran said, shortly after being presented with the medal by Phillipe Sutter, French Consul General for Western Canada.

“It’s from so long ago,” he added.

On June 6, 1944, Bath was a signalman on a landing craft that ferried soldiers of the 3rd Canadian Division from England to the coasts of France during D-Day.

While the momentous day was almost 80 years ago, the citizens of France will not soon forget the great sacrifice of the many Canadian soldiers who took part.

“You and your landing craft landed soldiers onto Juno Beach at Bernièr-sur-Mer,” Sutter said before presenting the medal.

“And during the next couple weeks, you travelled back and forth across the English Channel to carry more men to Normandy.

“The French people will never forget the act of bravery that helped restore our freedom, so to you and your comrades, thank you so much for fighting on our side for freedom and democracy.”

Bath was only 19-years-old while braving the shells, mines, mortars and machine guns of the protected coast line.

As a young man, he tried to enlist in the Army early but his mother was a tad too wily for him and told the recruiters he was was not old enough to join.

After the third time trying, he became frustrated and joined the Navy.

D-Day was one of his first assignments.

READ MORE: Remembering the invasion of Europe

After the invasion he acted as helmsman on a frigate involved in anti-submarine duty and serves on Canada’s first air craft carrier, The Warrior.

Post-war life, saw him move back to Fernie, B.C. where Bath worked in coal mines and delivered explosives.

He did not travel much, having seen much of the world as a sailor.

His son-in-law, Bob Harris, did manage to convince him to return to Europe for the 60th anniversary of D-Day in 2004.

The pair were joined by Bath’s grandson on a coach tour of Southern England and Normandy.

While in France they visited a small cemetery in Bernièr-Sur-Mer to pay respects to an old friend of Bath’s who was killed on D-Day.

“We will never forget your comrades in arms, killed in the flower of their youth as they threw themselves into the assault on the European continent to free on of the national founding people from the yoke of racism,” said Sutter.

“This sacrifice only further enriched the Franco-Canadian alliance that was forged in spilled blood.”



ronan.p.odoherty@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Royal Canadian Navy

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lisa Beare, the MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, was sworn in as a member of cabinet on Thursday, Nov. 26. (Special to The News)
MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows has a new cabinet position

Lisa Beare is the new Minister of Citizen’s Services

Email your cooking questions to Chef Dez at dez@chefdez.com.
ON COOKING: Mulligatawny is tough to spell but a tasty soup

Chef Dez offers up his version of a classic soup

Emma Davison, one half of Golden Ears Cheesecrafters in Maple Ridge, reflects on running her business in the year of COVID-19. (Scott Saunders/Special to The News)
OUTLOOK: Buying local imperative to agriculture businesses

Farmgate companies adapt to survive during early months of pandemic

Natasha Brayshaw’s acrylic on paper called Snowy Magic. (Vicuña Art Studio/Special to The News)
Representatives of MK Illumination light up Memorial Peace Park on Wednesday. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)
Maple Ridge decorating for Christmas

Lights and decorations going up in the downtown

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

A new ‘soft reporting’ room is opening inside the Ann Davis Transition Society offices on Dec. 1, 2020 which is thought to be the first of its kind in B.C. (Ann Davis Transitional Society/ Facebook)
New ‘trauma-informed’ reporting room opening next week in Chilliwack

It’s a space for reporting domestic violence, sexual assault, or gender-based violence to police

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

Most Read