Sidney’s Len Beck (born Oct. 26, 1920) started his military training in 1940 in Grande Prairie following the outbreak of the Second World War.
He was soon sent a military base in Borden, Ontario before being sent overseas in 1941. He trained in England prior to being sent across the English Channel into France on July 8, 1944.
Len was a Sergeant in the Canadian 8th Reconnaissance Regiment. This unit would go in front of the main army, scouting to find where the enemy was. It was very dangerous work.
Len had 30 to 40 troopers in his unit and they fought through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.
Len was wounded three times. The first and the second times he was hit with shrapnel. In both cases, he spent a short time in hospital and carried on fighting.
He was in Germany the third time he was hit by shrapnel from a mortar shell and was wounded quite severely in his abdomen. This occurred only a few weeks before the end of the war.
He spent time in a hospital in Belgium and he could have been sent home — but he insisted that he rejoin his troopers at the end of the war.
Doing so, he spent six months in Holland, helping out before returning to Canada.
Len carried around two pieces of shrapnel ever since — one in his arm and one in his foot.
After the war Len returned to Baytree, Alberta and farmed there until 1975. Len and his wife Caroline retired in Sidney.
Len always attended the Remembrance Day ceremony in Dawson Creek, B.C. and then in Sidney and was very proud to still be able to fit into his uniform.
In 2016, Len was presented with the highest award given to a non-resident of France. He was knighted by the French ambassador on behalf of the French government at a ceremony at the Veterans Lodge at Broadmead, for helping to liberate France.
Len, who died Aug. 5, 2016, lived out his final years at the Veterans Lodge at Broadmead.