Jan de Vries, C.M.
1ST CANADIAN PARACHUTE BATTALION
A Veteran of the Second World War, Jan de Vries served with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. He parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and later parachuted over the Rhine River into Germany on March 24, 1945.
Jan’s battalion was seconded to the legendary James Hill’s 3rd Parachute Brigade of 6th Airborne Division. At 0010 hours on June 6th, this 20 year old trooper of “C” Company parachuted into Normandy. Jan was wounded by a sniper in July 1944 and evacuated to England. With only two months of recovery, rather than convalesce longer, in September he returned to his battalion.
Jan continued the fight with his battalion in the Belgium Ardennes, and fought in Holland on the River Maas, he parachuted into Germany on Operation Varsity in March 1945.
Jan was a member of several organizations and associations including the Royal Canadian Legion and the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Association where he has served as Secretary and as President. He has represented the Battalion in the National Council of Veteran Associations and had served on the Advisory Board of the Canadian Airborne Forces Museum as well as the Board of the Canadian Airborne Forces Association.
His tireless efforts as a Board member contributed to the successful opening of the Juno Beach Centre. In addition, Jan also served on the D-Day Commemoration Advisory Committee for the 60th Anniversary of D-Day. Under his leadership, the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Association installed memorial plaques in Europe to commemorate their battle areas.
Jan was a founding member of the Living History Speaker’s Bureau and a member of The Dominion Institute’s Memory Project. Jan’s passion was speaking to school children and cadet groups on Canada's wartime contributions.
Jan organized exhibits displaying his Battalion's artifacts and ensured the Battalion was represented at commemorative events, Canada and world wide.
In June 2004, Jan was presented with the French Legion of Honour by President Chirac.
In October 2006 he was awarded the Order of Canada and invested as a member of the order in May 2007.
Jan was one of the eleven men being featured in the commemoration at the Memorial Pegasus Museum on 5th June this year.
A true airborne soldier, one who will always be remembered, passed away May 27th, 2012.
Rest in peace Jan.
(Photo Courtesy of the Pickering News Advertiser)