Lancaster bomber pilot awarded Legion of Honour
October 23, 2019 — Defence Stories
Author: Peter Mallett
A Second World War veteran who piloted the Lancaster bomber on multiple missions in western Europe has been awarded with France’s highest military decoration.
Victoria’s Edward Vaughan, 96, received the French Legion of Honour by Phillipe Sutter, France’s Consul General for western Canada in a ceremony at Veterans Memorial Lodge at Broadmead on Sept. 29. The award recognizes allied soldiers for their contributions to the liberation of France during the Second World War and to date has approximately 92,000 recipients.
Vaughan, a Broadmead resident and long-time Victoria resident, was grinning ear to ear upon receiving France’s highest military medal. He then gave Sutter a firm handshake and was presented the customary red ribbon and medal, a Maltese asterisk hung on an oak and laurel wreath, and a commemorative certificate.
“It was just me, an ordinary pilot doing this,” said Vaughan in accepting the award. “I am very pleased, thank you so much.”
The former Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) flying officer successfully completed 36 missions in his Lancaster bomber nicknamed ‘Old Faithful’ in support of the liberation of France between June and August of 1944. Born in Swansea but raised in Cumberland, B.C., Vaughan did his pilot training in Alberta, Scotland, and England.
During the war, he was stationed in north Yorkshire with the RCAF’s Goose Squadron whose main task was to weaken German defences in preparation for the Allied invasion of southern France in August 1944.
During one bombing mission to Germany, Vaughan recalled how a bomb fell through the wing of his Lancaster and started a fire on board. He then directed his crew to fight the fire and was able to return the plane to England while flying on three engines.
His quick thinking prevented himself and the crew from having to bail out over Germany or the English Channel, and he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. In presenting his latest decoration, Sutter told Vaughan and his family members that France will never forget those who assisted in the liberation of his country.
“We are here to pay tribute to your exemplary dedication,” said Sutter. “You are an inspiration to your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and for all of us. We look at you with pride and with emotion.”
After the war Vaughan attended the University of British Columbia and became a professional forester for the rest of his career. He married his wife Janet and raised five children in Victoria, B.C. He has eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren who, he says, pay him regular visits.
For more information about the French Legion of Honour visit their web page: https://www.legiondhonneur.fr/en/page/legion-honor-10-questions/406
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