First Hussars veteran, 99, receives France’s highest honour

First Hussars Col. Bernie Scheid presents France’s National Order of the Legion of Honour to 99-year-old veteran, Corp. James E. Fisher. Troy Shantz

Troy Shantz

The government of France has honoured a Sarnia-born veteran who stormed the beach at Normandy in the Second World War.

James E. Fisher was awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honour, the

The National Order of the Legion of Honour is France’s highest awarded medal.

nation’s highest.

The 99-year-old vet stood at the Sarnia Armoury on Dec. 9 when he was pinned with the medal with about 100 military officials and government leaders in attendance.

Fisher enlisted in 1940 as a member of the First Hussars 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment. His career as a tool-and-die maker at Mueller’s made him sought after by the Regiment, First Hussars historian Nick Corrie noted in a written outline of Fisher’s career.

He sailed to England in late 1941. Colds and pneumonia were common ailments that winter, so much so Fisher’s first pay was docked $1 for a burial blanket.

During the D-Day invasion, on June 6, 1944, Fisher manned an amphibious tank, his squadron landing on a beach east of Courseulles-sur-Mer in support of the Regina Rifles.

Corporal Fisher’s tank was one of 14 from the 19-tank squad that made it ashore. His machine was hit by shellfire but he escaped with a superficial facial injury.

Despite losing two tanks to enemy fire Fisher survived the war relatively unscathed.

At one point he encountered a dead German soldier carrying a card addressed to his family. Fisher mailed the card, and he and German’s family remained in touch after the war.

During the First Hussars’ conversion from cavalry to armour the cavalry equipment was disposed of, including the swords. Fisher bought one of these surplus items shortly after arriving in London and somehow managed to carry it with him throughout the war.

In 2014, he presented the well-travelled sword to the Regiment’s museum on D-Day weekend, Corrie said.

Fisher, who lives in Chatham now, married English factory worker Mary Pinchin in 1947 and together they had two daughters, Margaret and Virginia.

Second World War veteran Corp. Jim Fisher, centre, with First Hussars, from left, RSM. Tim Park, Col. Bernie Scheid, Honorary Col. Barry Hogan and Honorary Col. Larry Myny.
Troy Shantz