Surrey war vet given French Legion of Honour award

SOUTH SURREY – A veteran of the Second World War living in South Surrey will receive a prestigious award today (Remembrance Day, Nov. 11) at the Crescent Beach Legion.

John Mitges, now 93, was just 22 when he led the 18 Field Company of Royal Canadian Engineers as Reconnaissance Sergeant in a battle that helped liberate France. Seventyone years later, the Government

of France has announced they will be awarding Mitges with the Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour.

The award will be presented by local MLA Marvin Hunt (Surrey-Panorama).

The ceremony organizer is Chris Lythgo, a retired colonel of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers.

Lythgo said he learned a lot from being in the same corps as Mitges, only he was a couple generations behind him.

“Like all veterans of the Second World War, he was right at the front of the invasion,” Lythgo said of Mitges. “It was a very tough slog from the moment they landed on the beach ’til they got wounded.”

The two men have spoken a few times about the upcoming ceremony.

“He’s obviously very honoured; he’s told me that,” Lythgo told the Now.

“For the French government to finally recognize surviving veterans that did help liberate France, he considers it a great honour,” he said, noting that Mitges still has all of his Second World War medals.

“He had a very good post-war career with the Canadian engineers, and I know he was highly regarded when he retired… you don’t get (there) unless you have a very strong character and capabilities,” Lythgo said.

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