Thursday | August 17, 2017

John Vassair  served in the Canadian Forces during the Cold War era, and as such he participated in a number of peacekeeping missions from the period. Most notably John was deployed in Korea and the Suez in the 50s, during and after the conflicts in both of those nations. As such John followed the actions of the initial UN forces, helping to consolidate Canada’s role in this area.  From there, John was deployed in both West Germany and the United States, working with NATO forces.  John did this interview with Scott Masters in the summer of 2015, where he discussed the context and the difficulties associated with the UN peacekeeping process; the interview took place at his home.  The interview was developed by the Grade 9 Tech classes during the 2015-16 school year.

May 13th, 2016

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We met Mary Pegg at the Castle Peak Retirement Suites in Bracebridge, where she presently lives.  Mary is one of several authors/editors who assembled At Your Age, a collection of stories of those who live there.  The residents felt it was important for them to record their stories, which serve as a great entry point into their generation’s collective experiences.

Mary is from England, where she came of age during the war.  She had given nursing a try, but not finding it to her liking, she opted for the air force, and Mary found her wartime role in working with the new technology of radar.  As many in her generation did, she put her own life aside for a few years, and “did her bit”.  her duties included tracking incoming Luftwaffe flights, as well as tracking Allied fighters and bombers.  Mary recalled many good times from the war too, such as going to dances and meeting her husband; she as well recalled the rationing and hunger, and the new American foods that came into England.  She and her husband emigrated to Canada soon afterward, and along with others of their generation, they fell into the new rhythm of civilian life, and helped Canada to forge its postwar identity.

May 26th, 2017

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John Ferris grew up in Ontario in the prewar era, alternating between the country and the growing city of Toronto.  He experienced the two worlds of Canada, and had positive memories of both.  With the war, John enlisted, recalling it to be a duty and an expectation.  John chose the air force, and he began his training in the Commonwealth Air Training Program, going from one region of Canada to the next as he learned his new trade.  John specialized in communications, and he became a Wireless Air Gunner, or WAG, and was sent off to England to play his role in Bomber Command.  As the war was winding down when John arrived, he had the good fortune not to be called to combat duty; his time in England was more a waiting period.  Soon back in Canada, he fell into the rhythm of civilian life, marrying and raising a family, and finding his way in the world of business.

We met John at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing, where John met with Crestwood students in April 2017.

May 25th, 2017

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Wally Robus was originally from England. He immigrated to Canada before WWII. Wally was in the Canadian air force during the war, and was posted to a number of bases in Canada.  After the war, he got married and raised a family in Canada.

Wally presently lives in the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing, where he was interviewed for this project by Tommy Zheng, Bora Kutun and Jonah Patel in January 2017.

April 13th, 2017

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Jack Lewis was born in Montreal in 1925, the youngest in a family where both parents were war veterans.  His father was a doctor, and his mother was a nurse, and they’d met in the battlefield hospital near Boulogne.  They spent much of the Great War in that one location, and Jack remembers that in his war, he passed through that area in about an hour.  Growing up in Montreal, Jack was insulated from the tough economic times of the 1930s, and he remembers a vibrant city where he and his friends enjoyed all that life offered.  With the coming of the war, Jack’s ambition was to enter the air force, but his eyesight denied him this opportunity, and he ended up in the army.  He was selected for an artillery unit, and circumstance saw his unit, part of Canada’s 3rd Division, selected for Operation Overlord, or D-Day.  Jack recalls the preliminary bombardment, and the tragedy of a downed Spitfire, before going ashore in his LST in the third wave.  Juno was taken by then, so he and his unit provided support to the infantry ahead of them, moving past Caen and Falaise, and then into Belgium and the Netherlands.  It was there that Jack’s war ended; he spent some time in the army of occupation before heading back to Canada, where he settled into the rhythm of postwar life.

Jack was interviewed for this project in his home in March 2017, by his daughter Suzie and Scott Masters.

March 31st, 2017

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Norman Cohen was born in the east end of Toronto in 1923.  Growing up Jewish in the Beach neighbourhood, Norman dealt with the anti-Semitism of the era, as well as the economic pressures that led him to quit school at age 16.  Norman found work around the neighbourhood, and he fondly remembered working for Charlie’s Bakery on Queen Street.  But then the war came, and shortly after Pearl Harbour Norm and his friends enlisted.  Norm opted for the air force and after his in Canada training had been completed, bombardier Norman Cohen set off for England, joining his older brother in Bomber Command.  Norm was there for just under year, when rumours of the fates of Jewish airmen led him to seek a change, and he was shipped to Burma.  His journey would prove to be an odyssey:  along the way Norm ended up in Montecassino, where he joined the battle.  Then he found himself in Benghazi, Libya and Tehran, Iran among other places, as he effectively hitched rides in the direction of Burma.  Norm finally arrived in Ramree Island, and he joined the Canadians at their base, when he discovered that they had been looking for him and that a court-martial had been considered.  Norm spent a year there, where his role was to search out lost and captured soldiers.  When the Pacific War ended, Norm made his way back to Europe, and then in 1946 he finally made his way back to Canada, and his family in Toronto.

August 30th, 2016

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At a young age Major Dennis was interested in aviation. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets and obtained his glider pilot license and private pilot license while in high school in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  After attending university at Mount Saint Vincent University, he obtained his commercial pilot license and flew as a flight instructor and bush pilot in a number of locations in Ontario. In 2000 he joined the Royal Canadian Air force, and after military flight training was selected to fly the CC130 Hercules.He deployed twice to the Middle East for six months to Afghanistan and Qatar. He now he attends Joint Command Staff College here in Ontario working toward his Masters in Defence Studies.

June 13th, 2016

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Major T.J. (Tom) Goldie was born in Halifax, NS. After completion of high school he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and enjoyed several years serving as an Airframe Technician maintaining aircraft before being selected in 1999 for a military sponsored university training plan through which he completed his studies toward a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Saint Mary’s University. Following graduation he commenced pilot training earning his wings as a military aviator in 2004. He began his operational flying career with 415 (MP) Squadron in Greenwood, NS piloting the CP-140 Aurora Long Range Patrol aircraft.

He gained extensive experience on the Aurora flying more than 3000 flight hours supporting numerous domestic and international operations with 405(LRP) Squadron including a ten month duty on Op Athena (Afghanistan) amassing 145 combat missions as a Mission Commander on Canada’s first Tier 2 UAV deployment. As a Long Range Patrol Crew Commander (LRPCC), he had the privilege to lead a crew during Op Mobile marking several firsts for the Long Range Patrol (LRP) community over Libya and he has further participated in Operations Podium, Cadence, Nanook, Sealion, Leviathan, Qimmiq, Driftnet, and Caribbe. He has been employed as a Flight Instructor at 404 (LRP&T) Squadron and as Operations Flight Commander at 407(LRP) Squadron, Comox, BC. He has earned and exercised qualifications as a Flight Safety Investigator, an Instrument Check Pilot, and Standards and Training Pilot.  He is currently enrolled in the Canadian Forces Joint Command and Staff Programme where he is pursuing a Master of Defence Studies degree from Royal Military College.

Major Goldie visited us at Crestwood in March 2015, along with four other officers from the CFC.

May 19th, 2015

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Major Richard was born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1976. As a rural kid, he played the mandatory minor hockey until age 14 when he joined the Air Cadets and became hooked. He joined the Canadian Armed Forces as an Artillery Officer in 1994 under the Regular Officer Training Plan. He completed a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Alberta, while training at various military bases during the summer months.
His first posting (1998) was to 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Shilo, Manitoba. Over the course of nearly four years, he advanced from Troop Leader through to Battery Captain, working in both light and medium artillery batteries. One particular highlight was a peacekeeping tour in Bosnia-Herzegovina (OPERATION PALLADIUM) in 2000.
In 2001, Major Richard transferred into the Air Force as an Aerospace Engineering Officer. He subsequently worked in Edmonton and Ottawa, managing and participating in a number of projects related to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or ‘drones’) and helicopters. In 2006, he deployed to Afghanistan as part of OPERATION APOLLO.
In 2011, Major Richard became the Officer Commanding Maintenance Flight / Squadron Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Officer at 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Edmonton. In 2014, he was selected to undertake the Joint Command and Staff and Masters of Defence Studies Programmes in Toronto, where he currently works.
Major Richard visited us here at Crestwood in March 2015, along with 3 other officers from the CFC.

May 14th, 2015

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Don Morgan is a Canadian World War Two veteran who grew up in rural Ontario.  When the time came to enlist, Don chose the air force, and after considerable training in different locations across Canada, he was ready to be a pilot.  Further training in England ensued, and Don and his crew were ready to begin missions, on Wellington and Halifax.  Don remembers that many early missions focused on the U-boat pens at St-Nazaire, though they completed missions to the Ruhr region as well.  On one of those emissions, they were hit; Don kept the plane going while the crew bailed out.  When he jumped, he thought he might have heard one of the gunners still in the aircraft, something that haunted him.  He hit the ground and was in German custody by the next day, and Stalag Luft III awaited him.  He recalls that life in the camp was not easy, but that the German guards treated them satisfactorily.  The men greeted the end of the war with great joy, and the return to England and Canada went smoothly.

We met Don Morgan at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing, where he was interviewed in April 2015.

May 11th, 2015

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Fred Newton was born in Sarnia, Ontario in 1925. He attended Sarnia Collegiate Institute, and lived in ‘luxury’ throughout his childhood. In May of 1943, at the age of 18, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. After completing training he was stationed overseas but the whole draft was pulled in Halifax due to having too many pilots. He was then transferred Maitland, Nova Scotia, and took the training course five times, then transferred to Saskatchewan until where he stayed until the end of the war. After the war ended, Fred returned to school. He then got married and took an accounting job with an oil company in Edmonton, where he spent 25 years. He was interviewed in 2015 by Tyler Yap and Logan Lim.

April 30th, 2015

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 Al Wallace was born in Toronto in1920 on Brock Avenue (which was off Bloor Street).  Al and his family lived on Gladstone Avenue.  He went to Dovercourt  Public School, which was on Hallam Street,  and he graduated in 1938.  After this, he went to Central Tech for one year.  However, Al was unable to go back to school after this, as he quit school to find a job and help out at home.  Al remembers chumming around  with some of his friends ; he also remembered that sports was the main entertainment.   Al eventually went to Loblaw’s and put in an application there for a job – two weeks later, they called him and told him which store he needed to go to.  He also joined the army reserve and subsequently joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in Jan. 1941.  He attended the BCATP schools and made his way overseas.  He and his crew  were then transferred to a  base in the north of England – the RAF Middleton St George/419 Bomber Squadron.   Al was an air gunner and he did fifteen and a half air operations with his crew at 419.  One night, on a trip to the city of Duisburg in the Ruhr Valley, the plane was shot down.  Al was taken as a POW and spent the remainder of the war in German prison camps, including Stalag Luft III, where the “Great Escape” took place.
Al Wallace visited Crestwood in September 2014 and February 2015, where he was interviewed for this project by Aidan Reilly, Guanghao Chen, Amal Ismail-Ladak, Andy Cai and Matti MacLachlan.


 

January 14th, 2015

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Frank Boyd was born in Toronto in 1922.  He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, though he said he was lucky to have been sheltered from the toughest times.  After graduating high school, 19-year-old Frank Boyd joined the armed forces in Toronto, choosing the air force. After training he boarded the troopship Louis Pasteur and headed to Britain, where he spent time in Bournemouth and Binnington, completing his flight training.  Frank became an air gunner and a member of a Lancaster crew.  One mission saw them shot down, and Frank spent time as a POW, where he said he was treated reasonably well.  When the war concluded, he returned to Canada and built a life for himself.

We met Frank at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing in February 2014, when he was interviewed by Crestwood students Anthony Audette, Spencer Cohen and Braden Harris.

April 17th, 2014

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Jack Ford was born in 1921 and is currently 92 years old.  He was born in Oklahoma City, in the United States but grew up in Canada.  When the war broke out in 1939, he decided to enlist in the Canadian forces, even though it was not yet an American war.  Jack joined the RCAF, where he was trained as a photographer.  It was his job to develop pictures and to monitor the air force’s progress in the bombing campaign.  We met Jack in his room at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in November 2013, where he was interviewed by Akib Shahjahan and Luca Lettieri.

December 20th, 2013

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  • Heber Taylor was born in Carbonear, Newfoundland and Labrador.  When the war came along, Heber began working for Bell.  In 1941 he decided to enlist.  Heber volunteered so that he would be able to choose where he would serve. With the decision in his hands, he chose to fight as part of the Royal Canadian Air Force.  At the elementary station, Heber learned how to do “Flunky Jobs”, such as groundcrew, as well as experiencing flying a plane for the first time.  Later on, he was posted to Dunnville, Ontario, where he mastered his training with Harvard aircraft and received his Wings.  After the war, the family was reunited. They settled in Scarborough, Ontario,  where he and his wife raised a family.  Heber was very lucky not to have been in action in the war. He had been assigned to a mission, but before it happened, VE Day occurred.  Heber was interviewed at Sunnybrook by Justin Bowen, Danielle Gionnas, and Hunter Kell.

April 30th, 2013

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John Manestar was born in 1922 in Croatia.  He came to Canada with his mother because his father had come 6 years earlier, looking for work.  The depression hit in 1929 right after they moved into their house.  His family along with others had trouble with money, but they learned to make ends meet.  John met a friend in Toronto and together they went to go sign up for the air force; this was a shock to his family, which had a naval tradition.  He started off as a engineer in the air force.  John went overseas, first to England and then to France.  He did not see front line combat, but he was instrumental  in keeping Canada’s planes in the air, and he did find himself in harm’s way a few times.  When the war was over, John returned to Etobicoke and his family’s farm.

John was interviewed for theis project in his room at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in March 2013 by Crestwood students Maddie Pringle and Katherine Charness.

April 24th, 2013

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Alex Eisen survived the Jewish Holocaust in Hungary at the end of the war. While he was not deported to the camps, he did witness the horrors inflicted upon the Jews of Budapest, which he was fortunate enough to escape. After the war came to an end, he left Europe and ended up in Palestine, where the British refused his ship entry. Interned for a time on Cyprus, he did eventually succeed in gaining entry into Israel, where he joined the air force. Today he and his wife make their home in Toronto, and we’re pleased that he agreed to become involved in this interview project, once in 2009 and in again in 2010.  In 2012 he sat down for a third time, when he was interviewed by Julie Cho and Ryan Kroon.

January 10th, 2013

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We met Jim Finnigan at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in the fall of 2012, where he was interviewed by Grade 12 students Katherine Charness, Julie Cho, and Emma Myers.  Jim served in the Royal Air Force in the Second Wolrld War, where he was connected to transport details that were deployed largely in the Middle East.

January 9th, 2013

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Mr. Wilf Yaphe was born in Toronto Canada in 1920. He went to school in Toronto and Montreal. He worked in a drug store and he later went to enlist in the war effort but he didn’t have the university credit to be a pilot in the air force, so they sent him to a wireless camp. At the wireless camp be would learn Morse code. The wireless station was near Ottawa. Mr. Yaphe wanted to join the war effort to have some adventures and to explore the world. He went over to England for a bit where he went to parties and joined in the war support. Mr. Yaphe was working in a store when the war came to a close. He came to Crestwood courtesy of the Memory Project in November 2010, speaking to Crestwood students David Dennis and Justin Yeung.

July 9th, 2012

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Ben Snyder was a bombardier on a B-24 in the USAF during World War Two. When the war broke out, ben was in school, but like most of his classmates he quickly found himself in uniform in the days after Pearl Harbour. Ben ended up in the air force, and training took him all over the continental U.S. before he was deployed to the Pacific, with his crewmates. Ben served with distinction there, and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.

He presently lives in Portland, Maine, where he was interviewed by Scott Masters in December 2011 and 2015.

July 9th, 2012

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John Reynolds served in the Canadian Forces during WW2. He had tried to join the Air Force in 1940 but was considered too young, so a year later he tried to join the Navy but was unable to go because his work was considered essential. When they actually let him join the forces, he joined the Army, specifically the signals, which dealt with electronics and communication. After training and going overseas, John ended up in Italy, with the other “D-Day Dodgers”. He saw action in Ortona and Montecassino. All the while, he was supported on the home front by his friend and eventual wife Margaret, who is also heard here.

They were interviewed in their home by Crestwood students Julian Wilson, Dana Davidson, Maria Garcia, and Jonah Prussky. As John suffered a stroke and has some speech impairment, we have included a transcript in the photo section at the bottom of the page.

July 9th, 2012

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Jule Nussbaum has lived in Toronto his entire life. Jule enlisted in the Canadian Air Force against his father’s wishes and decided to become a wireless radio operator. He served honourably in the RCAF and returned to build a life in canada after the war. Jule was interviewed in his room at Sunnybrook by Zack Martin, Brandon Michael, and Dov Houle in November 2010.

July 9th, 2012

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Mort Lightstone, at the age of 18, decided to join the Canadian Air Force. He was trained as an Air Force Navigator and graduated as an officer in April, 1952. His career continued for 28 years and more than 6,600 hours of flying missions. His first war experience was the Korean War. He also joined the Vietnam War in 1972. His job in Korea was mainly to deliver Canadian service personnel, mail and supplies, and bring back the wounded, usually American. A long military career took Mort all over Canada, and the world, and he brings his stories to many Canadian students each year. He visited Crestwood in November 2010 courtesy of the Memory Project.

July 9th, 2012

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Michael Lakrits is a veteran of the Soviet Red Army who fought on the eastern front during WW2. He attended an air force academy and was at first a machine gun and radio operator in a bomber. He joined when he was 19 and first faced the Nazis in Estonia in 1941. In December of 1941 he was wounded and spent some time in the hospital. After his release he went to the Leningrad battlefield and was a commander in a scouting group. In September of 1942 he was again wounded, this time much more seriously. After his release from the hospital, he was sent to military school, where he became a tank commander. In November 1944, he was made a lieutenant and sent back to the battlefield in the Ukraine. He finished the war in Czechoslovakia in May 1945. Michael received many medals for his courage and bravery during the war. He is thankful for his experiences, his family, and the life he has built for himself in Canada.

July 9th, 2012

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Cy Hammond was born in Toronto in 1921. He lived in East York, in a working class family, with his mother and father. Cy used to play near the Don River with his friends and cricket at church. In 1941, Cy joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. After six months, Cy was sent to Halifax to board a boat and go overseas. Before they could leave, all the men were ordered off the boat because it was infected with bed bugs. The men were given new sheets and their heads were shaved. After the ship was clear of bed bugs, they were allowed back on the ship and headed overseas.

Once overseas, Cy was sent to a small town on the English Channel. He, and the other Canadians from the air force, stayed in hotels with American and British soldiers. They were then put into their squadrons. Each squadron consisted of a pilot, a bombardier, a wireless operator, the tail gunny, and the navigator. The members of each squadron were very close and had to rely on and trust each other at all times in order to complete their missions successfully.

On leave, Cy and his crewmates found a stable. When Cy got on his horse, it got startled and started to run. It ran around the base until Cy ended up crashing into the back of the mess hall. He fell unconscious and the next thing he knew, he woke up in the hospital. Cy was grounded and had to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time because of his head trauma. When he was finally released, Cy went to go see his squadron, but found that they had all been killed during a mission.

After the war, Cy came back to Canada and went to university so that he could get a job as a civilian. He attended Victoria College where he took many classes, including art history and agricultural studies.

Cy presently lives in the Veterans’ Wing at Sunnybrrok Hospital, where he was interviewed by students Emma Myers and Michael Lawee in November 2011.

July 9th, 2012

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Bill was born in Winnipeg in 1923. Bill joined the air force in the early 1940’s where he would later become a bomb aimer . After his term as a bomb aimer, he went to university to pursue an education in electrical engineering. Bill married Betty Cooperstock. They had 5 children and have 11 eleven grandchildren. Bill is getting old and has mild dementia so it is important that his stories were documented. Bill mentioned to Jonah that no one had ever taken an interest in his war experiences and he was extremely happy to help.

Bill was interviewed for this project by Jonah Prussky.

July 9th, 2012

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žFred Davies was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, into a family of six brothers and one sister. He graduated high school and volunteered for the RCAF. He chose the air force because he wanted to be a pilotž. After enlisting in the RCAF, Davies was sent to Manning Depot in Montreal for training.ž Davies was a member of No. 408 squadron and then No. 405 squadron, which became a part of the Pathfinders group.ž Davies’ 46th mission was to destroy some railroad tracks in Aachen.ž After being shot down, Davies and a crew mate avoided the German army with the help of the underground for a while, but a week after D-day, someone finally sold them out and they were handed over to the Gestapo. žThey eventually ended up at Stalag Luft III POW camp. Fred came to us courtesy of the RCL, and he spoke to Crestwood students Katherine Charness, Sam Friisdahl and Lindsey Swartzman in December 2010.

July 9th, 2012

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Benjamin Dantsig was a pilot in the Soviet Air Force during WW2. He fought in a number of battles during the war, including the final Soviet attack on Berlin. He also protected the convoy routes through the Arctic. He was shot down several times and was lucky to survive a partial amputation of his leg. We were fortunate to meet him through the efforts of Gennady Vilensky and the Greater Toronto Area Soviet Veterans’ Association.

July 9th, 2012

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Joyce joined the Royal Canadian Air Force Woman’s Division. She requested to go to England because she had never traveled the world and this was an once in a lifetime opportunity. She was trained at Rockcliffe to become a stenographer in the Orderly Room. She went over to England on Aug. 14, 1942. Her air force number was W306351. Her time was spent in Linton-on-Ouse which is close to York. Then she became a corporal for a year before she was brought back home to her family in Montreal.

Joyce was interviewed by her grandson Evan Kossman in early 2009.

July 9th, 2012

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Major Andrea Keeping grew up in the small farming community Russell, Manitoba and entered the University of Manitoba with the intention of studying to be an architect. Instead, she would end up finishing her education at Kingston’s Royal Military College and embark on a career that has seen her deployed in support roles to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Cyprus, and stationed at bases across Canada. In May of 2017, she visited Mr. Hawkins’ Career Studies class to discuss her career as an officer in the Canadian Forces. She shared her experiences and thoughts on a variety topics, including her journey into and through the military, the advantages and disadvantages of a military career, the duties of a Logistics Officer, and life at Kandahar Airfield during the Afghanistan mission. 

June 19th, 2017

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