TORONTO – Second World War veteran Jim Jenkins says he only hopes no one else has to go through what his generation did.
“There just seems to be so much unrest in the world,” he said on Friday, shortly after receiving the Legion of Honour from the French consul general. “Hopefully no one will ever come do what we had to contend with.”
The 92-year-old enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces at the age of 16. He landed in France on D-Day with the artillery. A landmine destroyed his vehicle in Germany in 1945 and left him in hospital for two months.
“We’re lucky to certainly be here today,” he told a crowd of about 100 students, staff and faculty at the 16th Remembrance Day ceremony held at Centennial College on Carlaw Ave.
Seated beside him were fellow veterans Theo Hopkinson, who served with the British counter intelligence decoding Nazi messages; Martin Maxwell, who served with the British Glider Regiment and was tasked with capturing three bridges a day before D-Day; and Esther Thorley, who served with the Canadian Women’s Army Corps and was named as one of 275 Canadian-Jewish women in the military in a coming book, ‘Double Threat,’ by Centennial College Prof. Ellin Bessner.
Maxwell and Jenkins both received the Legion of Honour medal — equivalent to the Order of Canada — from Consul General Marc Trouyet.
“Thank you for making my land a free country,” Trouyet said.
Centennial College journalism professor and author Ted Barris said it’s important for the students to hear these tales first-hand.
“The power of putting a face on history is what it’s about,” Barris said.
By Maryam Shah.