Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour presented to Saskatchewan Veterans
Monday, May. 4, 2015
Today at Government House in Regina, Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield hosted His Excellency Nicolas Chapuis, Ambassador of France to Canada, who presented the rank of Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour to four Saskatchewan veterans for their role in the liberation of France during the Second World War.
“I congratulate each medal recipient on this well-deserved honour,” said Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield. “We are very proud of you, and we join with the people of France in thanking you for risking your life for the cause peace and freedom.”
“France will never forget the act of bravery by Canadian soldiers during the Normandy landings to help restore our freedom. This further strengthens the profound relationship which exists between our two countries," said His Excellency.
The Legion of Honour, France’s highest decoration, is awarded by the Republic of France to those who helped to liberate the country during the Second World War. The Knight of the Legion of Honour Medal is a five-armed cross with a V-shaped cut-out at the end of each arm, generally surmounted by a wreath of laurel leaves. Over 600 Canadian Veterans have received France’s Legion of Honour.
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A native of Yorkton, Saskatchewan, James Bennett enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1942 in Regina. After basic training, he was sent to the West Coast where he worked on a joint Canadian-American operation conducted in the Aleutian Islands. In July of 1944, he went to the United Kingdom and joined the First Battalion of the Black Watch (also known as the Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada. Mr. Bennett remained with the Black Watch, serving in France, the Netherlands, and Germany, returning to England when he was wounded.
Returning to Canada in February of 1946, he resumed farming in Yorkton and subsequently managed a grain elevator before beginning a 20-year career with Gulf Oil in Flin Flon, Manitoba. He retired in Winnipeg and moved to Regina in 2005. Mr. Bennett was predeceased by his wife Eva in 2003. He has kept his links with his wartime comrades as a member of the Pacific Coast Branch of the Black Watch Association.
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Howard Leyton-Brown studied music in Australia, Germany, and Belgium, and England, before pursuing a career as a violinist and orchestral player. When the Second World War broke out, Mr. Leyton Brown joined the Royal Air Force and served for 6 years, from 1940 to 1946. During this time, he served in Canada for 2 years at Estevan as a flying instructor, after which he returned to England and joined Bomber Command with the 576 Squadron/Lancasters. He completed a tour of 37 missions over Europe, including France, Germany, and Holland, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Following the war, he attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before joining the London Philharmonic Orchestra, initially as deputy-concertmaster and later as concertmaster. Mr. Leyton-Brown and his family immigrated to Canada in 1952. He was head of the string department of the Regina Conservatory of Music, until his retirement in 1987, and served as the conductor of the Regina Symphony Orchestra and its concertmaster. He received his doctorate in musical arts in 1971 from the University of Michigan.
Mr. Leyton-Brown was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 1986; he received the Lifetime Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1991, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 1996, and The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.
John Milani joined the Army in 1940 and was commissioned with the rank of Lieutenant in September of 1942. Lieutenant Milani was Command Post Officer with his Battery with 13 Field Regiment Royal Canadian Army in France from June 10th, 1944 to August 3rd, 1944. On August 9th, he deployed the field guns to a forward area that was under constant fire from the enemy. His Battery inflicted great destruction on the retreating German Army. His performance that day and throughout the battle in France was recognized by the Republic of France with the Award of the Croix de guerre avec etoile de vermeil.
Arthur Ramshaw is presently a resident of Nokomis, Saskatchewan, and was inspired to enlist in the army by his grandfather, a cavalryman in the First World War. He was trained in England for the Dieppe raid and for the invasion of Normandy. Mr. Ramshaw served with the 8th Canadian Reconnaissance Battalion, the 14th Hussars, and landed at Juno Beach in Normandy in July 1944. His was the first unit to go into action in an infantry role, and the regiment screened the advance of the Division across northwest Europe. Their line was never penetrated.
His regiment won honours at Caen, the Seine, the Sheldt, Twentieth Canal, Antwerp, South Beveland, Gronigne, and Falaise. He was in the second wave that landed in Normandy, and lost many friends. He drove the lead armoured car across Europe and was knocked out of 2 vehicles prior to enemy action.
Mr. Ramshaw was awarded the 1939-45 Star, the France-Germany Star, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, and the Canadian Defence Medal.
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