Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

French laud D-Day veterans

Ambassador in city for service

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For Norman Donogh, life flashed back 68 years for a few moments Wednesday.

He was one of eight Manitoba soldiers who fought in the D-Day invasion in June 1944 and the Allied breakout from the Normandy beaches who were honoured by French and provincial officials at a special ceremony at the Manitoba Legislative Building.

"I thought it was quite impressive," Donogh, 89, said. "They made things come to life again after so many years."

Donogh, along with Louis Lemong, Paul Martin, Jack Tennant, John Stoyka, Jack Mitchell, Clarence Stocks and Alfred Monnin were each presented with medallions by Annie Anne, vice-president of Lower Normandy, thanking them for their service.

French Ambassador Phillipe Zeller and Premier Greg Selinger also participated.

A dozen other veterans of the Normandy campaign who couldn't attend will be presented with their medals separately.

Donogh said events such as this remind Canadians of what happened during the Second World War and the sacrifices of so many.

"I've noticed in the past 15 or 20 years more young people are attentive and seeking information than before," he said.

"For a long time there was complete silence, but it's being brought to the attention of people now."

Donogh, then a lieutenant with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, landed on Juno Beach on the evening of June 6, 1944.

Within three days he was wounded on a night patrol and was sent back to England for three months before rejoining his regiment at Calais, France.

He spent the rest of the war in combat to clear the Scheldt Estuary to allow for the reopening of the Antwerp port for Allied supply ships and the liberation of the Netherlands.

Following the war, Donogh worked as a reporter and editorial writer for the Winnipeg Free Press.

Selinger and Anne also signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen economic, cultural and historical ties between their two governments.

Lower Normandy is a region in northwestern France.

It includes an ongoing memorial component to commemorate the D-Day landings where the Fort Garry Horse and the 402 (City of Winnipeg) Fighter Squadron also played roles.

Selinger also endorsed Lower Normandy's bid to recognize the beaches of Normandy as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Excerpts of Premier Greg Selinger's endorsement of the Normandy beaches becoming a United Nations World Heritage Site:

"The Allied landing of June 6, 1944 on the Normandy beaches foreshadows and accelerates the liberation of Western Europe. This key moment of our common history has largely become a universally acknowledged date. It accelerated the fall -- wished by hundreds of millions of people -- of one of the worst dictatorships of the 20th century. It was the triumph of values and principles since then recognized by the United Nations. Thus, those beaches have become an undeniable symbol of liberty and the fight against barbarity.

"In memory of all the people who died there, this symbol of universal peace must live on and be transmitted to all future generations.

"That is why we, women and men of awareness, adhere without any reservation to the registration request of the great D-Day landing beaches that are Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword (as well as the Pointe du Hoc) to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 11, 2012 A5

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