One of last remaining Acadian WWll veterans celebrates his centenary

Georges LeBlanc, shown in a 2019 photo, fought in the final, decisive months of the Second World War. (Georges LeBlanc/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Georges LeBlanc, shown in a 2019 photo, fought in the final, decisive months of the Second World War. (Georges LeBlanc/Radio-Canada - image credit)

One of the last Acadian veterans of the Second World War is celebrating his 100th birthday Friday.

Georges LeBlanc, originally from Memramcook in southeastern N.B., lives in a health centre for veterans in Moncton,

He enlisted in late 1944 and was active in Europe at the end of the war.

Etienne Gaudet, the spokesperson for the Memramcook Veterans Association, said he's unsure how many Acadian Second World War veterans remain but he's only aware of three, including LeBlanc.

"We're down to very few remaining veterans," said Gaudet.

"It's incumbent upon us to celebrate as much as we can with the ones that we do have left."

'We were going there to be killed'

LeBlanc sailed with his unit, the Régiment de la Chaudière, from Halifax to England on New Year's Eve 1944.

In a 2019 interview with Radio-Canada, LeBlanc said he found out about his deployment when he sought his commanding officer's permission to marry his future wife, Stella.

The officer suggested LeBlanc wait to marry as he was being shipped out and this might worry her.

But LeBlanc said he told his wife-to-be he was heading to western Canada for training, not revealing he was actually sailing for Europe.

Alexandre Silberman/CBC
Alexandre Silberman/CBC

"We were going there to be killed," said LeBlanc.

"If the good Lord didn't want us we'd make it through."

Gaudet, of the veterans group, says it was a difficult few months for LeBlanc.

"He managed to survive. He almost died several times," he said.

Reluctant memories

While LeBlanc has spoken about his experiences in the war, it isn't something he likes to dwell on.

LeBlanc said he was thankful that memories of the war didn't come to him often, and they're not pleasant to remember.

But he did recall dodging explosions, being scratched up by blasts and once having to spend two days without water.

He fought in several battles in western Europe during the winter and spring of 1945 which helped push the Nazis back into Germany.

He was preparing for an assault on Hamburg when the unit received word of the unconditional surrender in May 1945.

"The day we got the news that it was over we were happy," said LeBlanc.

"We were very happy. Everyone was singing and jumping for joy"