A 97-year-old Chilliwack veteran was presented with a special coin from the Royal Canadian Legion last week in honour of his 75-year membership.
Harold Thorp, who served in India and Burma during the Second World War, was handed a limited edition Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) coin commemorating the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (May 8, 1945).
The presentation happened on Aug. 13 at Hampton House, the retirement residence in which he lives.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legion was unable to present Thorp with the coin and thank him in person for his 75-year membership, so staff at Hampton House honoured him on their behalf.
Thorp joined the Legion in 1945 while he was still stationed in India. He didn’t want to miss out on paying the annual $5 fee, so he sent his membership dues in the form of rupees via air mail.
He still has the letter he received in February of 1945 when he signed up, which was read during the coin presentation.
The commemorative coin is a fundraising item for the RCAF. Funds raised go to RCAF association members and to support the Royal Canadian Air Cadet program.
Thorp joined the RCAF in 1943. He trained in Canada and England from 1943 to 1944. In 1944, he spent his service time with #436 Squadron which was a transport squadron in India and Burma where he transported aircraft parts, POWs and the injured.
The closest Thorp said that they got to the front lines was when they were stationed in India where they were 10 miles from the conflict zone.
Although the war had ended, Thorp’s squadron was held back in Burma to transport the POWs and the injured. He returned home to Canada in July of 1946.
While overseas, Thorp wrote letters to his sweetheart for the three and a half years he was gone. She was 15 when he left and they got married on Sept. 24, 1947. He still has all of those letters as well.