A Pitt Meadows veteran has received the National Order of the Legion of Honour from France for his participation in the battles to liberate France from Nazi occupation during the Second World War.
George Flynn receives the award posthumously. He passed away on Nov. 2, at the age of 100.
“The medal is France’s highest award and is equal to the Order of Canada,” said Guy Black, a Port Moody veteran who devotes his time to the commemoration for other veterans.
“This is a great honour for a local resident…”
Born on a farm in Moosomin, Sask., the youngest of 12 children, Flynn left home at the age of 17 to move to the Vancouver area.
He enlisted with the Canadian Armed Forces in November 1940, then took part in the June 6, 1944 D-Day Invasion of Normandy, and fought with the 16th Field Engineers throughout France, Belgium and Holland.
“It’s pretty fancy – it’s a French medal,” said his son Clifford.
The award was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.
The Government of France is awarding its highest medal to all living Canadian veterans who directly helped to liberate their country between June 6 and Aug. 30, 1944.
His daughter Kathleen Sullivan said the anniversary of the D-Day Invasion got her father talking about his wartime experiences, for what was really the first time. He talked about his landing craft being hit and troops swimming ashore, about “atrocious” fighting, him being injured by a mine, and spending Christmas in the army in the Netherlands.
“It was good for us, his family, to finally hear the stories,” she said.
After the war, in 1946, Flynn settled down on an eight-hectare farm in Pitt Meadows. He worked for Fraser River Pile and Dredge, until his retirement in 1982.
He grew blueberries on the farm, then later started one of the first cranberry farms in Pitt Meadows.
Over the years, he became a mentor for others wanting to grow cranberries.
Sullivan said her dad never stopped growing food in his garden.
“Even this past summer he was out growing his crops, after his 100th birthday,” she said, noting he became a centenarian on June 23.
He was predeceased by his wife of 57 years Ragna, son David and daughter Susie.
He leaves behind seven children: Clifford, Richard, Katie, Evelyn, Lorraine, Margaret and Theresa, as well as 15 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.