John (Jack) Hadley joined the Queen’s Own Rifles (QOR) in June 1940, along with his brother, George.
Jack and George trained with the QOR in Newfoundland, Camp Sussex, New Brunswick, Scotland, and England before both landed in the first wave on D-Day. Jack’s regiment was tasked with capturing the village of Bernières-Sur-Mer as part of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division’s assault on Juno Beach. Jack was a Rifleman – No 2 on a Bren gun with Baker Company and landed in the same craft as Lt Hank Elliot. The Regimental History states that “An initial mischance now turned out to be a determining factor in B Company’s success. One L.C.A. had its rudder jammed and ran ashore off course. Here there was no enemy defence. Quickly, Lt. H.C.F. Elliot, the platoon commander, seized the opportunity and worked his way inland along the shore. The unexpected flank attack convinced the enemy that they had had enough. It was as well, for by now, the rest of B Company had been practically wiped out.”
Jack’s brother, George, was killed on 26 June 1944 when he was mistakenly shot by a sentry while returning from a patrol. He is buried in Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery.
Jack was wounded in the shoulder at Carpiquet Airport on 10 July 1944 and evacuated to England. Due to his injury, he was unable to return to service, and was demobilized in 1945 as a Rifleman.
After returning to Canada, Jack found work and met his wife Dorothy Wright. They married on 17 August 1946, bought a house in East York, and raised 6 children.
Jack maintained contact with the Queen’s Own Rifles through the Legion since the war and attended QOR functions, welcoming home members of the Regiment who have served in Afghanistan.
He had the honour of meeting Her RH in May 2011 during her visit to the QOR in Toronto. In 2015, Jack was awarded the French Legion of Honour for his contribution to the liberation of Normandy.
Jack Hadley passed away on 19 March 2018 at the age of 96.