Our Veterans

Our Veterans

Memoirs

Canada’s D-Day Legacy

by Bill Fairbairn "The happy part is remembering that after Normandy we advanced to victory." So said Ken Sloggett in June, near the end of a 12-day pilgrimage marking the 55th anniversary of D-Day. The tour organized by Veterans Affairs Canada took 60 Canadian veterans and 10 youth and cadet representatives to France and England. Sloggett should know. The Niagara Falls, Ont., resident was a private with the Lincoln and Welland Regiment in 1944, that August in the thick of Allied forces fighting desperately to close what was known as the Falaise Gap, hoping to snare German troops by then in retreat. Only 10 weeks after the June 6 invasion by Allied troops storming the northwest shores of France, the Battle of Normandy ended at Chambois-Montormel. At that time, isolated troop...
Memoirs

Tour De Force

by Mac Johnston The many faces of our world never cease to amaze. Imagine that you’re in the Middle East in December with a troupe to entertain Canadian peacekeepers. In Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, your bus approaches North Camp at El Gorah. The entrance is like nothing you’ve ever seen back home. Both sides of the road are lined with 45-gallon drums filled with poured concrete and linked by a sturdy cable. There are also concrete obstacles in the centre, forcing vehicles to zigzag their way through the maze. You also pass over a steel plate that conceals a retracted steel barrier. What you have here are basic security measures. It matters not that the Sinai is quiet these days. The Middle East is not only the cradle of civilization, it is also the cocoon of conflict. Other parts ...
Memoirs

Solemn Moments In Mons

by Ray Dick "I was in a trench on the outskirts of Mons when the firing stopped," said Fred Evans, a 101-year-old WW I veteran from Summerville, N.B., while gazing out over the now-peaceful Belgian countryside he hadn’t seen for 80 years. Evans was part of a cavalcade of Great War veterans who had travelled thousands of miles to Mons last November for a Remembrance Day ceremony in a city made famous by war and peace. For it was in Mons where the Allies were first drawn into the war, where the war ended and where the tradition of remembrance began. "We thought it was only a ceasefire, not the end of the war," added Evans. "We didn’t even get an extra shot of rum that morning." He recalls walking into Mons the day the Armistice was signed at the 11th hour on the 11th day of...
Memoirs

Korea: A Landscape Of Wartime Memories

At first glance, South Korea looks like a landscape artist’s paradise. There are tree-covered hills rising in every direction and cities teeming with people. There are also war cemeteries decorated with bonsai trees that look like swirls of soft ice cream. It’s hard to square these images with the black and white photographs of the Korean War. Indeed, many of the photos I’ve seen show Canadian soldiers slogging through mud or along narrow dusty trails. I’ve also seen pictures of convoys on rough mountain roads and of men crammed into slit trenches. It must have been a different Korea back then, back during the war that lasted from June 25, 1950, until the Korea Armistice Agreement was signed on July 27, 1953. "At nighttime you had slit trenches," explained J.E. Clegg of Nanaimo, B.C....
Memoirs

For Those Who Served At Sea

by Tom MacGregor A few miles out to sea from St. John’s, Nfld., HMCS Charlottetown, one of the modern Halifax-class frigates, pulled up beside a floating block of ice the size of a small ship. Known as growlers to Newfoundlanders because of the noise they make when they roll over, the ice is only a fragment from the icebergs that drift south from the Arctic Ocean each spring. It was a scenic setting for a solemn ceremony. Canadian Forces chaplain Lieutenant-Commander Jacques Cantin was joined by several St. John’s clergy in the saying of prayers. The Act of Remembrance was recited in English and French and this was followed by Last Post, the lament and Reveille. The most solemn moment came when the 24 veterans of the WW II Battle of the Atlantic, ship’s crew, serving military a...
Memoirs

A Show Of Support

by Dan Black Beyond the jagged edge of the evergreen forest the armored personnel carrier makes another sharp turn on the mountain road before heading down across the valley. I’m standing in one of the carrier’s rear hatches, watching a great big moon rise over Bosnia-Herzegovina. As the carrier shifts gears and gains more speed, my ears are pounded by the noise coming from the huge engine. Suddenly–in rapid succession–I see the twisted, moonlit skeletons of bombed-out houses and overturned vehicles; gloomy reminders of the 1991—95 war that killed 250,000 men, women and children. Down below–squeezed into the belly of the carrier–five members of a 17-member Canadian Forces entertainment troupe are comparing notes on what they saw that day in the northwest Bosnian town of Drvar a...

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An informative primer on Canada’s crucial role in the Normandy landing, June 6, 1944.