John Mills wore a beaming smile as he was honoured recently as the last surviving Second World War veteran from the First Hussars.
The resident at Rosewood Village retirement home was greeted with a bagpipe-led procession of First Hussars and supporters as he sat down for lunch at an outdoor deck on June 18.
Rosewood staff helped coordinate the visit, and Mills was ready, dressed in uniform and joined by three other Canadian forces vets from the Indian Road home.
“I love those pipes,” said Mills, 96. “I’m speechless.”
Mills was a trooper during the war and assigned as the personal driver to the squadron commander. He served in France, the Czech Republic, and in Germany drove his Commanding Officer in a jeep that led a regiment of tanks in the spring of 1945.
Locally made signs encouraging support for the troops have been distributed throughout the city, and retired Major Eugene Smith presented one of them to Mills.
Smith accompanied Mills on a 2015 trip to the Netherlands commemorating the Canadian-led liberation of that country. Mills was deeply moved by the appreciation the Dutch show for Canadian veterans.
“I’m not a hero, I just did my job,” Smith recalled Mills saying at the time.
Linda Smith of the First Hussars Association joined the show of support. The First Hussars, which trace their roots to 1856, is an armoured reserve regiment of the Canadian Forces based in Sarnia and London.
“Mr. Mills being in the home, and with all that’s going on with COVID, we just thought, let’s present him (a sign) to put in front of his window,” she explained.