La France décore MM. Hebb et Hammond à Moncton
Le Consul Général de France remet la médaille de Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur aux vétérans canadiens M. HEBB et M. HAMMOND
18 décembre 2014,
Ceremony of award of the French Legion d’Honneur to veterans M. Ralph HEBB and M. Francis HAMMOND.Bridgewater, Royal Canadian Legion, Branch no 24, 78 churchstreet, NS, B4V 1R7, the 14th of December, 2014. 2pm.
"Distinguished guests and dignitaries,
Dear Veterans M. Ralph HEBB and M. Francis HAMMOND andyour families and friends,
First of all, I thank you very much, for allowing me to be present here today. Yes, I am very happy to be here, not only because Ihave the honour and privilege to represent the President of the Republic of France in awarding you these distinctions, but alsobecause I was born in Normandy fifty five years ago. It was after the Second World War but through my parents and grandparents,I really experienced what the Second World War has been. So it is now for me a very moving moment to meetpersonally two veterans who contributed to liberate France and Europe seventy years ago.
M. Ralph Whitfield HEBB, you were born on the 7th of April, 1919 in Conqueral Mills, Nova Scotia. During World War Two,you enlisted the Royal Canadian Engineers. The first part of your service was training in Canada. Then, as most part of yourcompatriots, your Regiment was posted in England and your training was pursued. Most of your training was in BridgeBuilding for when the unit had to go in France. On July, 16th, 1944, your Unit landed on Juno Beach, the sector devoted toCanadian Army. Then, your Unit was employed at various locations in building bridges that had been destroyed in thefighting. At one point your Unit took over an abandoned newspaper printing building and was the first unit to print the“Maple Leaf”, a newspaper put out by the Canadian Forces in Europe.
During operation “Market Garden”, your unit moved up to the Lower Rhine River, waiting for the Arnhem Road Bridge to becaptured. However, the British 1st Airborne Division was overrun on September 21st and had to be evacuated onSeptember 25th. You were at that time a boat operator and you helped in the evacuation of the paratroopers back across the river.
By all your actions during the Second World War, you contributed to liberate France. You were already awarded the“Canadian Volunteer Service Medal”, the “France and Germany Star”, the “1939 – 1945 star”, the “War Medal 1939 - 1945” andthe “General Service Medal”.
I know that you are still a very active man and that at 95 years old you still attend the November 11th Remembrance dayceremonies, wearing your WWII uniform.
M. Francis Allan HAMMOND, you were born on the 19th of March, 1923 in Saint John. You enlisted in the Royal CanadianNavy Volunteer Reserve in June 1941 (you were only 18 years old !) and you served on various Corvettes and landing Craftduring WWII. During operation “Overlord”, the “Débarquement” in France, on Juno Beach, the sector devotedto the Canadian Army, you were a member of the 262nd Canadian Landing Craft Flotilla and you were on one of thelanding craft which contained troops to be landed on Juno Beach, and various other beaches alongside the coast.At approximately noon on D-Day, as your ramp was lowered in order to land a section of soldiers, the landing craft struck amine and was disabled. Consequently, you and the other crew members were put ashore and remained there until the nextday during which time you maintained contact with your mother ship. You eventually returned to your ship andcontinued your duties with the Royal Canadian Navy until the end of the war. You were demobilized on the 25th of August1945.
By all your actions during the Second World War, you contributed to liberate France. You were already awarded the“Canadian Volunteer Service Medal”, the “France and Germany Star”, the “1939 – 1945 star”, the “War Medal 1939 - 1945”, the“Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and clasp”, the “General Service Medal” and the “Atlantic Clasp”. You were also awardedthe “Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal”, the “Duke of Edinburgh Honorary Award” and the “Royal Canadian LegionMerit Award”.
At the age of 91, you still attend Naval Association and Royal Canadian Legion general meetings.
2014 commemorates the 70th anniversary of the D day. Historian John KEEGAN very rightly paid homage to the couragethat you and your fellow Canadian soldiers displayed on June 6th, 1944 ; courage in which, I quote : “a whole nation could takeconsiderable pride”.
The whole French population remembers that it was the sacrifices made by the Canadian soldiers that helped France tofree herself from the Nazi domination. France will be eternally in debt. And France will never forget. Commemorating the Dday also means celebrating the fraternity of democracies. It means remembering the blood that has been spilled in thename of freedom. It means defending the shared values in the name of which our elders fought : the respect for human rights,the love of liberty, and the protection of human dignity.
For all these reasons, France will never forget what you did for her, and that is why France is awarding you tonight her highestdecoration, the Légion d’Honneur, an award created by the Emperor Napoleon to thank his best soldiers.
“M. Ralph Whitfield HEBB, au nom du Président de la République Française, je vous remets la médaille de Chevalierde la Légion d’Honneur »
“M. Francis Allan HAMMOND, au nom du Président de la République Française, je vous remets la médaille de Chevalierde la Légion d’Honneur »
Consul Général de France dans les Provinces atlantiques