An Amherst D-Day campaign veteran has been honoured by the French government.
AMHERST – Harold Furlong still has vivid memories of his short, but intense fight through northern France 70 years ago.
Going ashore three days after the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, Furlong fought with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders for more than a month before being severely wounded near Caen in July and taken off the frontlines.
The French government has recognized his efforts with a letter awarding him the rank of Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour.
“When I got it I didn’t know what it was all about,” said the 93-year-old Furlong. “When I got the first letter I sort of chucked it aside, but then I got another letter from the French government with the medal.”
The letter says the award was awarded “in recognition of your professional involvement in the liberation of our country. Through you, France remembers the sacrifice of all your compatriots who came to liberate France soil often losing their lives in the process.”
Furlong said it’s an honour to receive the medal, but says he still feels for those friends and fellow soldiers who didn’t make it home from D-Day and the months that followed until the end of the Second World War in May 1945.
“I really don’t think I did that much over there,” he said.
Because he worked on the family farm in Linden, he was initially refused entry into the service, but a doctor provided the necessary documentation and he was sent to Camp Borden in Ontario to train as a gunner operator on tanks. He was later assigned to the armour corps and dispatched to England.
After six weeks of training in Blackdown, he and his comrades were called into battle as reinforcements for the North Novies.
Furlong remembers going to the English Channel coast in the days leading up to the Normandy invasion. No one had any idea where they were going even as they entered the ships to take them across the channel to France.
He crossed on the Prince Henry before going ashore three days after the initial landings.
“From there it was hell,” he said.
Furlong was near Tilley heading for Caen when a German shell landed nearby killing a wounded comrade and leaving him with severe injuries that resulted him heading to hospitals in England and Scotland where he met the woman who would become his wife.