France Honours Canadian D-Day Pilot

A former RCAF pilot who flew Lancaster bombers during the Second World War was presented with the insignia of the Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion of Honour on Wednesday (Feb. 7) by France’s ambassador to Canada Michel Miraillet. At 104 years of age, Jack Finan, of Hamilton, Ontario suburb of Mount Hope, is the last Canadian RCAF Lancaster pilot still living.

“This ceremony, dear Jack, is emblematic of my duty to remember, a duty I share with all French citizens, and a duty that the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, wished to stress with this honour, which he awarded to you upon hearing your story,” said Ambassador Miraillet as he presented the medal in the presence of Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor Edith Dumont and France’s Consul-General (Toronto) Bertrand Pous. He noted that this year marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

Finan was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1919, and enlisted in the RCAF when war broke out and was commissioned as a Flight Lieutenant. He flew many missions piloting Lancasters, including before, during and after the invasion of Normandy in 1944.

“Pilots like Jack faced terrible odds – but they did so with unyielding courage, duty, and valour,” said Hamilton mayor Andrea Horwath. The ceremony was held in the clubroom of the 447 Wing of the RCAF Association in Hamilton.