KAMLOOPS — As part of the 70th Anniversary of the Battle for the Liberation of France, the French Government put out a call to Veterans Affairs Canada. The plan was to identify all living Canadian Veterans who took part in Liberating France from the Nazi scourge, during World War II. One of the veterans identified was 95 year-old Kamloops Resident Len Ford.
He remains a humble man, despite receiving France’s highest honour. Just before Christmas, he was named a Knight in the Legion of Honour, for his service to the French during World War II.
Len enlisted early in the war. Initially, he wanted to join the airforce, but it wasn't in the cards. "You had to have three years of high school before the Air Force would take you," the 95 year-old Ford said, on Satuday.
Unfortunately, Len had dropped out of school in Vernon to work at a local mechanic shop when he was just 13. So, the recruiter sent him down the hall to the 6th Engineer Squadron of the Royal Canadian Engineers, based in North Vancouver. It was the same unit his father had served in during the First World War.
In 1940, his squadron went to Nova Scotia; nearly a year later, they were sent overseas, to England, where they trained and built camps for the Allied troops who were flooding into Britain. Then, in 1944, Len landed in Normandy, just three days after D-Day. He remembers coming across an abandoned Canadian truck which the Germans had tried to sabotage.
This past fall, Guy Black, a military historian who lives in North Vancouver, heard the call for submissions by the Republic of France - he submitted Len’s name and at the beginning of December, the notice, along with the insignia medal.
Len’s son Jim says the family received the notice from the French Embassy just before Christmas. "I'm extremely proud," said Jim of his Father. "How can you not be?"
It’s not the first time Len’s been honoured for his service during the second world war, and like his son says, he’s a modest man. "I just thought it was very nice of them," Len said, when asked about the honour.
While Len downplays the importance of his contribution during the conflict, if it weren’t for men like him, the world could be a much different place.
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