Canadian D-day veteran, 100, dies day before return to France for anniversary

Last Updated: May 4, 2024By

A Hero’s Farewell: The Life and Legacy of William Cameron

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A 100-year-old Canadian World War II veteran, William Cameron, passed away just one day before he was set to travel to France for the 80th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.

A Hero’s Final Journey

William Cameron’s death on Sunday was shared on Twitter by Canada’s veterans affairs ministry. Cameron had been planning to join a Canadian delegation in France for this week’s commemorations.

“We are saddened by the passing of SWW Veteran, William ‘Bill’ Cameron,” read the post. “Rest easy, Mr. Cameron.”

A Courageous Career

Cameron served as an anti-aircraft gunner on a corvette, a small warship, that escorted American barges during the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy. Born in Brandon, Manitoba, Cameron later moved with his family to Canada’s Pacific coast and joined the navy in 1943.

In a video on the Juno Beach Centre museum’s website in Normandy, Cameron recounted that his ship was the only Canadian corvette to reach the beaches during the invasion. They were tasked at Omaha Beach to “protect all these fellas on the barges landing on the beaches.”

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“I’ll tell you, it was something awful,” he said, referring to Omaha Beach as the hardest to take. “We were all very frightened. There’s no doubt about that, especially when the enemy aircraft were coming right at you.”

Memories of Bravery

Cameron recalled a significant moment during the battle when his captain said, “Good shooting, Cameron.” This memory stayed with him throughout his life.

Though some crew members were injured, none died in the battle. The war took a heavy toll on Canada, with about 45,000 Canadians losing their lives, including 5,500 during the Battle of Normandy and 381 on D-Day.

Honored and Remembered

In 2015, Cameron was awarded France’s Légion d’Honneur, the country’s highest honor, for his role in liberating France.

“France will never forget what the country owes him and will keep his memory alive,” said France’s consulate in Vancouver.

A Nation’s Gratitude

“We will remember his service and story,” said Canadian Minister of Veterans Affairs, Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

To honor the veterans, French President Emmanuel Macron will host Joe Biden, Britain’s King Charles III, and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the shores of Normandy. These leaders represent the main countries involved in the landings on June 6, 1944.

Gathering of Heroes

About 200 veterans, most in their late 90s or older, are expected to attend the ceremonies. They gather not just to remember the past but to celebrate the bravery and sacrifices made for freedom.

William Cameron’s story is a powerful reminder of the courage and resilience of those who served during World War II. His legacy will continue to inspire future generations.

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