Jan de Vries (soldier)

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Jan de Vries
Born (1924-01-24)24 January 1924
Leeuwarden, Netherlands
Died 27 May 2012(2012-05-27) (aged 88)
Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Buried at Pine Hills Cemetery, Scarborough, Canada
Allegiance  Canada
Service/branch Lesser badge of the Canadian Army.svg Canadian Army
Years of service 1943–1945
Rank Paratrooper
Unit 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion
Battles/wars World War II

Jan de Vries, CM (24 January 1924 – 27 May 2012) was a Dutch-born Canadian World War II paratrooper and veteran's advocate.[1][2] His work as a board member of the Juno Beach Centre contributed to its creation.

Military service[edit]

Mr. de Vries served with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, parachuting into Normandy on D-Day and later parachuting across the Rhine River into Germany on March 24, 1945. He was wounded in action by a German sniper in July 1944, however had returned to combat by September, 1944.


Mr. de Vries was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion for 40 years. He served as a President of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Association for 12 years. Under his leadership, the Association installed memorial plaques in Europe to commemorate their fallen comrades.

Additionally, de Vries served on the Advisory Board of the Canadian Airborne Forces Museum as well as on the Board of the Canadian Airborne Forces Association. His efforts contributed to the successful opening of the Juno Beach Centre. As a founding member of the Living History Speakers Bureau and a member of the Dominion Institute Memory Project, de Vries also regularly spoke to school children and cadet groups, including the Cadet Basic Parachutist Course, regarding Canadian contributions during World War II.

Mr. de Vries was also Honorary Chairman of the Corporal Fred Topham Victoria Cross fundraising project, which resulted in all of Topham's medals being displayed at the Canadian War Museum, including his Victoria Cross. He was a Patron of the Victoria Cross Trust and a memorial page can be found on their website.


In June 2004, de Vries was named a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour by President Jacques Chirac.[3][4] He was named to the Order of Canada in 2007.[5][6][7] In 2010 he was selected as an Olympic torchbearer as part of the 2010 Olympic Games.[8]

de Vries died in 2012 at Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering hospital.[9][10]


  1. ^ Ted Barris (6 June 2012). "A D-Day survivor's lifetime of service". National Post. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Matt Gurney (6 June 2012). "My morning with the angry D-Day veteran and his shocked audience". National Post. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Biography - Veterans Affairs Canada". Veterans.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  4. ^ "La Légion d'Honneur à des vétérans canadiens - La France au Canada/France in Canada". Ambafrance-ca.org. Retrieved 2012-07-06. [permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Governor General to invest 41 recipients into the Order of Canada". Archive.gg.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  6. ^ "Baseball great, fiddler receive Order of Canada - Canada - CBC News". Cbc.ca. 2007-05-04. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  7. ^ "Pickering war hero appointed to Order of Canada". DurhamRegion Article. 2007-02-22. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  8. ^ "Decorated war vet to carry Olympic torch in Pickering". DurhamRegion Article. 2009-12-09. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  9. ^ "Death of Pickering war veteran mourned". DurhamRegion Article. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  10. ^ "Jan de VRIES C.M. Obituary". Toronto Star. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.