“Digger” Gorman served in the Canadian Navy during the Second World War. Originally from New Brunswick, the future geology student – that’s where the name “Digger” came from – Digger was deep in his studies when the war approached. As a science/engineering student, Digger’s enlistment was originally deferred, but like many in his generation, he put school off, and went into the navy in the middle part of the war. At first Digger was in Coverdale, site of the top secret naval decoding base, where he was assigned to the EOTVOS project, though his involvement was minimal. From there his life aboard ship began, as he played his role in the Battle of the Atlantic, escorting convoys in the western part of the Atlantic and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Digger and his shipmates did their part in fighting the U-Boat threat. With the war’s end, Digger was getting ready for the Pacific campaign, but when the A-bomb ended that possibility, he went back to school, pursuing his degree, all while resuming married life and having a young family. He soon relocated to Toronto, where he emerged as an associate professor in the geology department.
We met Digger at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing in March 2017, when he shared his story with Arielle Meyer and Scott Masters.
Oral History Project May 21st, 2017
Janet Watt was one of so many women who entered the armed forces during the Second World War. Janet chose to go in the navy, and she became one of the WRENs. As Janet entered the services at the end of the war, her time in the military was limited, though her experiences are very illustrative of the period. Having grown up out west, Janet’s war years were spent in the Toronto area; she remembers parading on Harbord, as she was being trained as a dental assistant, something very much needed for Canadian troops abroad. She did her part, like so many others, and that continues to this day, as Janet volunteers her time at Sunnybrook, where she sings for the veterans to this day.
We met Janet there on a morning in February 2017, where Janet was interviewed by Arielle Meyer, Angelina Audette, and Michael Lim.
Oral History Project May 8th, 2017
Gord Casey served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War Two, where he was one of many sailors playing a role in the Battle of the Atlantic. Gord saw action on a variety of ships, where he protected convoys as cargo ships brought vital supplies to the European theatre of war. Along the way Gord experienced the many facets of the naval war; his ships confronted and chased many U-boats, and he saw ships under his protection sunk. Gord also remembers the storms on the Atlantic, and the time in port, scenes which he compellingly shares here.
Oral History Project April 10th, 2017
Craig Kingsley is an active member of the Canadian Forces. He served aboard the HMCS Athabaskan in a 2000 action called Operation Megaphone, where crew from the Canadian destroyer boarded the Katie, a freighter returning Canadian military supplies to Canada after the Kosovo mission. Craig was a member of the boarding party, and he helped to secure Canadian Forces members aboard the freighter, along with the supplies. For his part in the operation, he and fellow crew members were able to return to base in Canada on the PM’s plane.
Oral History Project March 27th, 2017
Ray Cameron is a veteran of the Merchant Navy. When the war came he was living in Lindsay, Ontario, where he had been on the farm and had worked on the Great Lakes as a seaman. When Norway was pulled into the war, the Norwegian merchant marine made the decision to recruit in Canada, and Mr. Cameron signed up. Soon he was off to New York, and he set off across the Atlantic on the first his crossings. Ray was able to travel the world during his years, making journeys to Europe, Africa and Asia, all the while carrying the supplies that were integral to the war effort, and putting himself in harm’s way as the Axis forces did all they could to interrupt those vital supply lines.
Ray visited us at Crestwood for our April 2016 Veterans’ Breakfast, and Mr. Masters was able to visit him in his home in June 2016, where he was interviewed for this project.
Oral History Project July 12th, 2016
Yitzchak Kalev was born in Jerusalem, Palestine. He has lived there for all his life. During WW2 he served in the Royal Navy on a minesweeper. He remembers seeing the German paratroopers land in Crete and the bombers on D-Day. He also fought in the IDF for many years in the War for Independence. He now lives in Jerusalem Israel and has a wife, son, and grandchildren. Yitzchak was interviewed for this project by his great-nephew Indigo Goldfarb-Lewis, who visited him in Jerusalem in December 2015.
Oral History Project March 29th, 2016
Oral History Project March 24th, 2016
The Crestwood Oral History Project is in the midst of its busy season! The CHCs are completing their oral history interviews – all 80+ of them. In the last week, we have had 2 in class visitors, and done one in home visit. Students from Mr. Masters’ class went to visit Kelman Cohen in his home last week; Mr. Cohen is a Canadian army veteran who went overseas as a replacement soldier in 1944. He told Hartley Gelkopf (whose father is Kelman’s doctor), Harlan Rich, Willa Easton and Rory Peckham some unbelievable stories, first about growing up in prewar Toronto, and then about the experiences he survived in the Netherlands. The next day Israel Glassman – another patient of Dr. Gelkopf – came to Crestwood to share his stories with a large group of Grade 10s. Mr. Glassman served in the navy during WW2, doing trans-Atlantic convoy runs and D-Day support missions in the English Channel. Both men were able to add to the students’ understanding of the war, and to give them an emotional connection to events that shaped Canada 70 years ago. This week Pinchas Gutter came to Crestwood; Pinchas is a survivor of the Holocaust from Poland. He is a renowned speaker who has lectured extensively around the world, and he was chosen by the Shoah Foundation for the holographic initiative – please click here for his appearance on the Today show. Crestwood students were lucky to meet Pinchas in person and to hear how he survived. Stay tuned for an update on our visit to Baycrest!
Vanessa Wappel February 19th, 2016
COMING SOON and JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!
A new Parent Association initiative is arriving soon! Navy and white plaid pajama pants are currently at the printers and will be available for purchase within the next 1-2 weeks.
These comfy pants are available in Youth L, Adult S, M, L & XL sizes, and cost $35.00.
Payment can be made by cheque, payable to “Mane Essentials” or students can use their thumbprint at the Mane Essential store.
Stay tuned for upcoming sale days and times.
Vanessa Wappel November 12th, 2015
Charles Butts was born in Woburn, Massachusetts in 1926. He spent his early years on the outskirts of Boston, growing up against the backdrop of the Great Depression. After graduating from high school, Charles attended Middlebury College, as he was given an educational deferment from the draft. He did end up in the U.S. Navy, but was fortunate to see his active service commence just as the war was concluding. Even so he was involved in numerous shipping assignments in the Pacific, including a number connected to the occupation of Japan. Following his tour in the Pacific, his ship set off to the Middle East, eventually making its way back to the U.S. after a partial round-the-world tour. Back home, Charles settled into the rhythm of civilian life, doing his part in postwar America.
Charles now makes his home in Falmouth, Maine, where he was interviewed by Scott Masters in July 2015.
Oral History Project August 18th, 2015
Roy Earle was born in 1924 in Montclair, New Jersey, and he grew nearby in the city of Bloomfield, where he graduated from high school in 1942. Knowing he would soon be drafted, he made the decision to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps in late 1942, eleven months after the U.S. joined the conflict. Roy did his recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina and in January 1943 he started the Field Lineman’s Course at 2nd Telephone Company at Camp Lejeune; there he received his communicator’s MOS.
In August 1943 he made the cross-country move to Camp Pendleton, California, where his unit was redesignated Company “A” 4th pioneer battalion, part of the newly formed 4th Marine Division. In December 1943 Roy joined the First Joint Assault Signal Company (JASCO), his final reassignment. JASCO’s role was to set up communications for the assault troops, maintaining constant communications between the beach and the front-line troops, moving inland to replace communicators that were killed or wounded.
In January 1944 the men were deployed overseas, going directly into combat in the Marshall Islands. Over the next thirteen months Roy was in constant operations combat against the Japanese, participating in vicious battles in Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima.
When the war ended in September 1945, Roy was in Hawaii, where his unit was training to invade Japan itself. He returned to the U.S. in October, where he was discharged at age 21. For his service Roy received the two Presidential Unit Citations awarded the 4th Marine Division, the Navy Unit Citation awarded JASCO, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with four bronze battle stars, and the World War Two Victory Medal.
Back in New Jersey, he went back to work, and also attended college at Rutgers. After twenty five years at Hoffman LaRoche, he retired and changed careers, becoming a teacher at Ricker College in Houlton, Maine, and later a professor at Casco Bay College in Portland.
Roy was interviewed for the Crestwood Oral History Project by Scott Masters, who visited him at his home in Norway, Maine in July 2015.
Oral History Project August 7th, 2015
LCdr LeFresne enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces as a MARS (Maritime Surface-Subsurface) Officer in June 1997. After 4 Years at the Royal Military College (RMC), he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Military and Strategic Studies and was posted to Victoria, BC to complete bridge officer training. Upon completion of this training, LCdr LeFresne was posted to HMCS Charlottetown in Halifax, NS to proceed with Officer of the Watch (OOW) certification. During his tour with Charlottetown, he attained the Naval Officer Professional Qualification and sailed in numerous fisheries patrols and task group exercises. A highlight of this two and half year period was Charlottetown’s participation in the 60th Anniversary of D-Day celebrations held off the shores of France.
Upon completion of his tour with Charlottetown, LCdr LeFresne was assigned to the Canadian Forces Naval Operations School to complete training as an Under Water Warfare Officer, which is the position he served in HMCS Fredericton. Service in Fredericton also saw east coast sea time in multiple fisheries patrols and task group exercises as well as assistance to the RCMP in one of the largest drug interceptions in Canadian history. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander in April 2012.
LCdr LeFresne remained in Victoria, BC and oversaw the development of technical and readiness trials for frigates completing the Halifax Class Modernization (HCM) program. During this period he was heavily involved in the planning and preparation of Royal Canadian Navy’s participation in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014, the world’s largest maritime exercise.
LCdr LeFresne is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Defence Studies as part of the Joint Command and Staff Program at the Canadian Forces College. He lives in Toronto with his wife and 3 children.
LCdr LeFresne came to visit us at Crestwood, courtesy of the CFC, in March 2015, when he was interviewed by a host of students from different grades. Mindy Zhou and Doris Qiao took the lead in completing this project.
Oral History Project May 13th, 2015
Jack Reid was born in Toronto, and joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1943. Working as a depth charge operator on the HMCS Longueil, Mr. Reid participated in numerous convoys of military and supply ships making the treacherous journey across the north Atlantic. After the end of the war (and one last convoy across the Atlantic), Mr. Reid returned home and became a police officer in Toronto. Mr. Reid is active in the Toronto Military Police Veterans Association, and has served as its president. He was interviewed by Jeffrey Radford-Grant at Crestwood in the spring of 2012 and again by Michael Krupski in 2013..
Oral History Project September 17th, 2013
Dennis and Raybell Gould are the grandparents of Crestwood student Sarah Gould. Dennis and Raybell grew up in wartime England, where they experienced the bombings, the rationing, and the general anxiety of life in England at war. Dennis enlisted in the Royal Navy near the end of the war, and he served aboard the HMS Malaya.
They were interviewed by Sarah at their home in March 2013.
Oral History Project April 2nd, 2013
We met Les Fontaine at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in the fall of 2012, when he was interviewed by grade 11 students Sarah Mainproze, Steph Erdman, and Kristen Stribopoulos. Les served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War, and he shared with the girls his memories of the Great Depression, as well his thoughts on the training and trans-Atlantic crossings, including the fears provoked by combat. Les also had a great collection of photos from the war, including a memorable one from VE Day!
Oral History Project January 9th, 2013
Donald Stewart was born in Vancouver B.C. He served with the Royal Canadian Navy Merchant fleet. Growing up Donald had been a sea cadet and he always admired sailors. As it was wartime and all of his friends had signed up, he wanted to do his part. So Donald had to go through basic training and then he was assigned as a gunner on a defensively-equipped merchant ship. Donald’s first task was to get his ship from Quebec to the Mediterranean sea to get supplies to Europe. Donald then boarded another ship and set sail to the Indian Ocean. When they were torpedoed in the Ganges River, all of the survivors were taken into a Japanese prison camp. The navy informed his parents, with deep regrets, that Stewart had died at sea. It turned out another sailor with the same name had been killed in action. His grieving parents back in British Columbia held a church memorial service. Two years later he returned and everyone was surprised to see that he was still alive!
Donald was interviewed in his room at Sunnybrook by 2010 Crestwood graduates Sam Wasserman, Maria Garcia, and Lauren Weingarten. He was visited again in 2012 by Michael Lawee, Ryan Kroon, and Justin Bowen, and again in November 2013 by Savannah Yutman, Patrick Helou, and Asya Hocaoglu.
Oral History Project January 8th, 2013
John Stephen was 22 when the war broke out. He had just became a carpenter after 5 years of training. He was in the Merchant Navy doing Trans-Atlantic runs from Halifax to England. John did 31 Trans-Atlantic runs through the whole war. He was never in a ship that was attacked. John Stevens served in the military for 7 years. He left the Navy after the war and went to Canada because he was married in 1944. He was 29 when he left the Merchant Navy, having served seven years.
John was interviewed in his room at Sunnybrook by Crestwood student David Sawiak.
admin July 9th, 2012
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.
admin July 9th, 2012
Lloyd Pressnail grew up during the times of the Great Depression in Canada. He was considered “wealthy” because his father had a job. He always loved sailing, so when he was 16 he joined the Royal Canadian Navy as a seaman. But the thrill of the service ran out fast for him and it helped him realize that he wanted to finish school and get a steady career. With the help of Veterans Affairs Canada he finished grade thirteen and attended the University of Toronto’s engineering program. Lloyd now lives in Toronto and takes his time educating people about his experiences as a veteran and in life.
He was interviewed for this project by Crestwood students John Andrade and Jules Thuet.
admin July 9th, 2012
Werner Hirschmann was a U-boat officer in the German Navy during the Second World War. He served on several U-boats and saw action in both the Mediterranean and Atlantic theatres. When the war came to an end, he and his crew surrendered to Canadian forces, and he became a POW in Canada, later to be returned to England and then Germany. He emigrated to Canada at the first opportunity in the late 1950s. He visited Crestwood in April 2009, where he shared his memories of pre-war life and his wartime service with Crestwood students Colin Walker and Chris Cho.
admin July 9th, 2012
William Campbell is from Lossiemouth, Scotland. He served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, mainly aboard the battleship King George V. In this interview he painted a detailed portrait of what life was like on the ship, from the weather to the food to the uniform. William was able to travel all around the Atlantic, including stops in ports as varied as Murmansk and Trinidad.
He was interviewed for this project by Crestwood student Jessie Cooke in March 2012.
admin July 9th, 2012
Jack Aldred was born and raised by his father, a war veteran, and his mother, in downtown Toronto. Mr. Aldred always looked up to his older brother, so when his brother went off to fight in the navy, so did Mr. Aldred. Mr. Aldred says that it was “just the thing to do” at the time [go off and fight]. After training, Mr. Aldred was assigned to the Prince Robert ship. One night, the Prince Robert was engaged in a battle with German aircraft. The ship suffered no damages, and everyone was unharmed. The battle was short; their enemy was only 3 German aircraft. Later they were heralded as heroes in a Toronto newspaper. Mr. Aldred worked as the communications officer, this means he would relay information from the navigator to the people shooting the weapons.
Jack Aldred was interviewed for this project in October 2011 by Crestwood students Robert McKay and Victor Lantos.
admin July 9th, 2012