LOCHABER – A local veteran recently received an honour from a country he helped liberate.
Lochaber resident Earl Jewers was recently selected as Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour for France. Jewers received word of the nomination from Phillippe Zeller, France’s ambassador to Canada.
“I was very pleased,” said Jewers.
“I hadn’t expected to get this but I was very pleased when I did. There are lots of fellows that would have qualified just as much as me but they aren’t here anymore.”
Jewers, a World War II veteran, filled out an application through the Royal Canadian Legion, which then went through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and then on to France. He said to qualify, nominees had to serve in France, participate in D-Day, and have a clean service record.
Jewers served overseas for four years with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and was part of the D-Day landing at Juno Beach.
“I survived right through until the end of the war, which was 11 months,” said Jewers, who signed up with the Canadian military when he was 18.
“I remember losing a lot of friends [on D-Day]. We landed on the second wave and from then on we went through France, sometimes close to being wounded.”
As an infantryman, Jewers said he had a few close calls, including shrapnel in his tunic, but “I wasn’t touched so you don’t bother counting those things.” Coming home from the war, he said his experiences were difficult to talk about.
“The last 20 years or so, people wanted to know what really went on so you opened up and told them as much as you figured they should know,” said Jewers.
“That was it. We were all volunteers [on D-Day]. We expected exactly what took place; that there would be a lot of casualties. Some of us were lucky. A lot of us weren’t.”