West Kelowna  

Soulmate earns high honour

A Westbank resident has been awarded the highest honour France can bestow for his service during the Second World War.

Jim Allan, 98, will be honoured Tuesday, 2 p.m. at a special ceremony at the Village at Smith Creek.

Allan was born in Calgary Oct. 29, 1921, but grew up in Vancouver. He joined the army when he was 18 and was posted overseas in England in late 1941.

The move turned out to be auspicious because he met his future wife on a training assignment to decipher codes in London.

Shortly after their whirlwind romance began, Allan was deployed and took part in D Day combat in France.  

One year later, Allan returned to England  and married the love of his life, Edna and they have been married for 76 years.

Allan returned to Canada, and Edna followed about six months later as a war bride.

Jim returned to the military as part of the intelligence corps. His final work was for the Canadian Foreign Service for about 10 years, representing Canadians in New York, San Francisco, and Guyana.

Once his career was over, Allan and his wife moved to Vernon, then Kelowna, and now reside in the Westbank seniors home.

Marlene Hehr has been caring for the couple for years and says most of her days are spent making sure the lovebirds spend time together and connect. "They are soulmates, these two. He worships the ground she walks on," says Hehr.

Aside from being lucky in love, Allan is also one of the few surviving veterans of D Day, and the ceremony on Tuesday will officially honour him for his courage and bravery.

A letter sent from the French ambassador to Canada says: "By the order of the President of the Republic of France, you (Jim Allan) have been awarded the rank of Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour." The award is France's highest honour and is given as a testament to the wearer's courage and devotion to the ideals of liberty and peace.

The letter also states: "In recognition of your personal involvement in the liberation of France during World War II. Through you, France remembers the sacrifice of all of your compatriots who came to liberate French soil."

Not bad for a 98-year-old who still kisses the love of his life three times a day for good luck!

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