It is indeed sad that long-time Legion member Cyril Holbrow passed away last month just 3 months short of his 100th birthday.

Cyril served in the Canadian 2nd Infantry Division, 5th Brigade, with the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals.  He saw action at JUNO Beach in the D-DAY Landings at Normandy, France on June 6, 1944.

The Canadian 3rd Division was tasked with the actual landing at Juno beach and securing the beachhead. When this was achieved after much fighting and loss of life, the 2nd Division went ashore including the 5th Brigade with Cyril attached to the Calgary Highlanders Regiment, as a member of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals.

He experienced heavy enemy fire when the Highlanders fought at the battle for Caen and later with the Maisonneuve Regiment at the battle for Falaise. Cyril told me how the truck they had for sending signals only had a soft canvas top, so they were particularly vulnerable to enemy fire. In fact once a shell landed close enough to wound the driver of the truck but Cyril escaped unharmed. 

Later he was stationed in Germany with the Army of Occupation at Jever, near Wilhelmshaven.

For his participation in the D-Day landings, Cyril was awarded the Legion of Honour Medal by the French Government.  This was presented to Cyril at City Hall in 2017 by Mayor Braun and Abbotsford’s own member, retired Colonel Jim Happer, formerly of the Royal Canadian Engineers.

There is a report with video and lectures of Cyril receiving his award on the website. Check it out using the “News” entry on the Menu bar, scroll down to the tab “Cyril Holbrow: Legion of Honour Presentation”.

In his long life, including in the recent years, Cyril has become an welcome visitor to local schools during the Remembrance Day period.  Students have really appreciated his stories about his time during WWII, and this has really helped to preserve the history that our service persons performed during such times, so that these services and the sacrifices made by many Canadians will be kept alive in the memories on our young people.  Andy Anderson of Abbotsford, who also recently passed away, was also a person actively engaged in relating his experiences to the local school children Andy’s story is also mentioned in the “News” section.

We should also note that Cyril lived in Clayburn for many years and his dedicated service to the village is well summarized by the following statement from his Obituary (courtesy of the Abbotsford News):  “Cyril was the unofficial Mayor of Clayburn Village in his later years, offering guided tours of the Historic town and manning the Museum on a regular basis. He was an avid contributor to the Clayburn Historical Society.”

For the 2019 Canada Day Parade, Mark Ivins had some wartime military vehicles and Cyril was due to ride in one of them in the Parade, along with Andy Anderson and other branch 15 veterans John Molnar and Dan Norgaard but was unable to at the last minute due to a medical problem because of the heat. Unfortunately the opportunity to be there in 2020 was not possible due to COVID-19. However, Cyril was there in the photograph with the others.

Cyril Holbrow 2nd from left at Canada Day Parade 2019; also John Molnar, Andy Anderson, Dan Norgaard
Cyril at branch 15 wearing the Legion of Honour medal.