Douglas Brooks was born in 1921 in Toronto, the middle child out of all his four brothers. Douglas is currently 92 years of age. He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression. Like many men, the reason Douglas joined the army was simply because there was no work; also all his friends and brothers were joining the Army. Douglas joined the army in 1939; at the time he was 19. He became part of the Royal Regiment of Canada. Douglas’ journey to get to d Dieppe took him to Iceland and England first, where he awaited further orders and prepared for the raid on Dieppe. During that time, he also was in London during the Battle of Britain. After the disastrous Dieppe raid, where Douglas was lucky not to be wounded, he became a prisoner of war for three years. Douglas’ prison camp was liberated in 1945 and he left the army, ready to begin a new life in Canada.
Douglas was interviewed for this project in his room at Sunnybrook in February 2014 by Crestwood students Gabe Lantos, Luca Lettieri and Aidan Reilly.
Oral History Project April 6th, 2014
John Hishon and his mother lived in the Yonge & Bloor area of Toronto, where his Mom worked extremely hard to make a living during the Great Depression.. When the war broke out, John trained on the Canadian Exhibition grounds, where at first they did not have any equipment and were laughed at. He eventually was shipped to England, where he saw firsthand the Battle of Britain. His squadron was wiped out at Dieppe, but John was lucky to escape this tragic event because he was injured at the time. He was sent to France after D-Day and was involved in the attack on Caen on the fourth of July, 1944. He advanced with the Canadian army in northwestern Europe, through belgium and Netherlands, through to VE Day. We met Mr. Hishon at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in November 2013, where he was interviewed by Steven Feng and Hunter Kell.
Oral History Project January 3rd, 2014
Charles Leggatt served in the British army during WW2. Charles visited us at Crestwood several times, and on our final visit with him we visited him in his home. Charles was a magnificent storyteller, and he shared with Crestwood students his numerous wartime exploits: the Home Guard, his memories of his brother Kenneth, the Battle of Britain, training with the Signal Corps, D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, fighting in Holland and Germany, and the liberation of Belsen.
Oral History Project February 20th, 2013
John Hylton grew up in 1940s England, where his childhood was deeply impacted by wartime events. He remembers the Battle of Britain, the rationing, the V-1 attacks, and most importantly he remembers his father’s service as a physician. John was interviewed for this project by Alec Maavara.
Julie Hallett was born and raised in London, England. Before the war broke out, life was very good for Julie. She was an honor student at her private school and was given a scholarship to continue her studies there before the war. When the war broke out, she was evacuated with her school to a safe location and they stayed there for a while. Because of this Julie did not experience the bombing associated with the Battle of Britain. Later in the war she encountered some minor raids, when visiting friends in London. On those occasions they acted responsibly and took shelter. On the night of the first flying bomb raid V1’s Julie says they were more mystified than anything.
After that, Julie decided to join the WRNS Women’s Royal Naval Service. The WRENs had enough volunteers to more than meet their needs and did not require any conscripts. With so many applicants available they could afford to be choosey when selecting candidates. Julie considered it an honour to be accepted into their ranks.
Julie’s assignment in the Wrens was at the Marconi Research Laboratories near Chelmsford in Essex. There she was engaged in research into the propagation of short wave radio waves. She spent her first few months on watch i.e 24hr shift-work interpreting observations taken of the state of the ionosphere. Later she was transferred to daytime duty as assistant to one of the scientists, working on new projects.
She was interviewed for this project by Crestwood student Josh Stern.
Harry Sanders sailed the oceans of the world during the Second World War. Born in the small seaside community of South Shields, in Great Britain, he answered a Marconi company ad on the topic of wireless operators, and soon his training was underway, as he left school and South Shields behind him. Soon named a junior radio officer, his adventures began, as he would move from one ship to the next in subsequent years, joining one convoy after the next. Harry crossed the Atlantic on many occasions, seeing ports of call everywhere in the world. Along the way he and the men and women of the merchant marine sustained the war effort, bringing crucial supplies to Britain in her hour of need. And Harry did pay the price: one of his ships was torpedoed on the south Atlantic, where Harry was lucky to survive, clinging to a raft and following the current ashore to Sierra Leone. Shipped back to England, it was on to the next adventure, which included an assignment to an Allied troop ship, ferrying the men to Omaha Beach once D-Day was underway. In the final days of the war, he brought supplies to the men fighting the Battle of the Bulge, and to the Dutch survivors of the “Hunger Winter”.
Harry came to our attention as the result of an article in the Toronto Star, and Tillsonburg Mayor Stephen Molnar helped put Mr. Masters in touch, and Mr. Masters visited Harry in his home in early January 2018.
Oral History Project February 2nd, 2018
Oral History Project January 22nd, 2018
John Hall was born in the Canadian West in the early 1920s. He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, though he said he was lucky to have been sheltered from the toughest times. With his brother he made his way to western Ontario, riding the rails and working the ports of Lake Superior. While his brother stayed and worked the mines, John finished school and joined the armed forces in Toronto, eventually landing in the First Hussars. After training he boarded the Queen Elizabeth troopship and headed to Britain, where he spent time in Aldershot, completing his tank crew training. John became a radio operator and main gun loader and a member of a Sherman tank crew. John went ashore in France a few weeks after D-Day and the liberation of Caen, and he saw his early action in Falaise and the ensuing Battle of Normandy. From there he moved through Belgium and the Netherlands, where he has fond memories of the civilians greeting the troops. When the war concluded, John returned to Canada and built a life for himself.
We met John at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing in July 2017, when he was interviewed by Crestwood students Arielle Meyer and Samara Black.
Oral History Project August 9th, 2017
Fred Roles was born in 1920s London, the son of a firefighting family. He vividly remembers the beginning of the Blitz in 1940; when his neighbourhood was bombed, he and his mother had the good fortune to be at the back of the family home. He vowed to shoot down those German planes as soon as he could, and he went on to join the RAF. He wanted to be an air gunner, but the RAF needed communications specialists, so Fred was trained in Morse Code, and deployed to various RAF bases, where ho participated in the defence of Britain during the intense battles of 1940-41. At the midway point of the war, Fred was deployed to Ceylon, where he joined the Wire Service, helping to decipher Japanese messages and working towards victory in the Pacific.
We met Fred at Sunnybrook veterans Wing in December 2016, where he was interviewed by David Huang and Scott Masters.
Oral History Project January 23rd, 2017
Bill Tymchuk was born in Ukraine, when it was under Polish control; he went to school there for 2 years and immigrated to Canada in 1930 (his father had settled down in Canada in 1928). His family was on the farm, and he started school and learned English quickly. Later his family went to Stayner, Ontario and bought a farm there. His family couldn’t afford to send him to high school, so he went to work at the age of 16.
Bill was raised in the shadow of the Great Depression, the rise of Nazis, and he later became a soldier fighting for Canada against Germany on the battlefields of Europe. Bill was keen to join the Canadian army, and to fight in the war as a Canadian soldier in the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment. He is proud to be a Canadian, and he chose to fight for the country he called his home land. Once overseas Bill spent time in Britain, then he went across the channel, to fight in the Battle of Normandy. From there he went on to liberate both Belgium and the Netherlands, where he remained in occupation after the war. Before Canada, he returned to Britain, where he married – then it was back to Canada, where he became a bricklayer in Toronto’s postwar construction boom.
We met Bill at the Legion Branch 75 in October 2016, where he was interviewed by Lyndsay McCulloch, David Huang and Robert McHale. In April 2018 Mr. Masters visited Bill again, this time with Rishi Sharma, who interviewed Bill for his Heroes of the Second World War project.
Oral History Project October 17th, 2016
Mr. Lloyd Queen served in the Canadian Army during the war. After training, he was commissioned as a ieutenant and sent to England. He went ashore in the first wave of the Normandy invasion and was in France for about a month before being deployed to the Netherlands and the Battle of the Scheldt. He did cross the Rhine into Germany before being returned to Britain, where he was decorated by King George VI. We visited Mr. Lloyd Queen at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in October 2008, where Crestwood student Eric Lee interviewed him in his room. He was also interviewed by Gr. 9 student Nick Andreoli in March 2009.