Neil Stewart

Victoria war veteran earns French honour

Neil Stewart, 91, fought on the beaches of Normandy and beyond in the Second World War.

Neil Stewart survived the Second World War against all odds as a tank crew member.

He is now being recognized by the French consul general for his service.

Born in Edmonton in 1923, Stewart went overseas to fight in the war at 18 years old.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Stewart’s tank landed on Juno Beach in the midst of heavy fighting. Near the end of June, his tank was involved in an attack on the Carpiquet Airport and the tank was knocked out. Stewart, now 91, was one of only three survivors who made their way back to Brigade headquarters for reassignment.

In July 1944, another one of Stewart’s tanks was destroyed in the battle of Falaise. He was only one of two to survive.

Early 1945, Stewart and his crew lost seven tanks in Germany at the crossing of the Kusten Canal. He was the only survivor and was back with the Regiment in a new tank on April 20.

After three destructions and three unlikely survivals along with the resilience to keep fighting and serving his country throughout the rest of the war, Stewart is now being honoured with an award from the French government 70 years after the end of the Second World War.

“This is France’s most prestigious award,” said Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon upon presenting Stewart with the French Légion d’Honneur on behalf of the French consul general. “And until recently, had only been awarded to about two dozen Canadians.”

Stewart’s son Sandy, 53, was one of Stewart’s family members present at the ceremony.

My dad really felt that he should be accepting it for the guys who didn’t come home,” said Sandy. “He felt a little funny to be picked out and recognized.”

However, Sandy said he sees why his dad is so deserving.

Who better to receive something like this than Dad?” he said. “The Americans say that the life time expectancy of a tank crew is six weeks.”

Stewart is proof that this is not always the case as he accepted his prestigious award at Government House in Victoria.

Stewart and his wife Sheila retired to Victoria in 1991.

 

Just Posted

Increased rental construction boosts housing starts across Greater Victoria

Rest of Vancouver Island experiencing spillover effect from Greater Victoria

Bay Street Bridge construction begins today

Point Ellice Bridge will be closed to eastbound vehicle traffic until October

Some showers, high of 18 C for Tuesday

Plus a look ahead at your weekly forecast

Survey finds 15 per cent of Canadian cannabis users with a valid licence drive within two hours of using

Survey also finds middle-aged men are upping their usage following legalization

Family of B.C. pilot killed in Honduras trying to ‘piece together’ tragedy

Patrick Forseth has a number of friends in the area and was loved by everyone

Justin Trudeau credits immigration for Canada’s growing tech sector

Trudeau stressed that Canada has become a major source of talent for tech all over the world

Feds launch tourism strategy designed to boost sector 25 per cent by 2025

The fund is supposed to back experiences that show off Canada’s strengths

Mamma Mia! poised to be biggest Chemainus Theatre show ever

Plenty of buzz as Island dinner theatre schedules ABBA-fueled romp

New book from Island author details social history of the E&N railway

Along the E&N tells the story of 32 establishments from Esquimalt to Campbell River.

Should B.C. already be implementing province-wide fire bans?

A petition is calling for B.C. Wildfire Service to issue a ban to reduce risk of human caused wildfires

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several days, but grew substantially Sunday

Most Read