Oral History Project June 18th, 2018
Originally from Toronto’s east end, Bob Middleton is a proud Canadian who served in the RCAF during the Second World War. Bob grew up in the Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto, and when he visited mr. Masters’ Grade 12 history class, he shared remarkable memories of what it was like to grow up in prewar Toronto. Bob remembered life in the neighbourhood, and had a remarkable treasure trove of stories from the era. Like so many in his generation, he made the decision to enlist with the coming of war. A lifelong fascination with flying led him to choose the RCAF, and he was off to manning depot in his freshly purchased suit. From there Bob went into basic training, to be followed by a stint in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, where he hoped to become a pilot. fate did not have that in store for Bob though, and he was trained instead as a navigator, and was set to make his way overseas. The troop ship saw him safely – if not comfortably – to England, and he and the other men were given additional training, followed by crewing up. Their life in Bomber Command was about to begin, and the trips to Germany, of which Bob would do 33, were about to begin. Bob served with his crewmates on Wellington, Halifax and Lancaster bombers, taking the war to the heart of Germany from 1943-45. When Bob completed his mission quota, he returned to Canada, shortly before VE Day. He was welcomed by his family and girlfriend Pat, with whom he would go on to build a life and a family, falling into the rhythm of civilian life with the returning soldiers of his generation.
Bob visited us in May 2018, first attending our annual veterans’ breakfast, and then returning to speak to History 12 students.
Oral History Project May 28th, 2018
Joe Warner is a Canadian who joined the fighting in Israel in 1948 because he felt “it won’t be worth being a Jew elsewhere if Israel did not survive.” Joe had graduated high school in Toronto in the midst of WW2, and he had enlisted in the RCAF, and began training in different parts of western Canada. Joe was selected to be an air gunner, and while he was all set to serve Canada against the Axis threat, the war ended before he could be sent overseas. Joe set about preparing for a postwar career, when events in the Middle East intervened. Joe signed on to fight for Israel in 1947, and he was soon on his way, sailing from New York to France, and then on to Israel. Joe fought in southern Israel, in the Faluja area. The battles in which he participated helped free the Negev from Egyptian control of main roads. The combat – especially around the strong concrete police fortress of Iraq-Suidan – was intense. Wounded in action, Joe recuperated, and along the way met his first wife.
With his training as a pharmacist, Joe was called upon to be a pharmacist/ medic. He responded by setting up a first-aid station at Hazor, making use of medical equipment and supplies seized from the Egyptians. This early hands-on experience apparently served him well, as for 15 years he helped establish and manage Pfizer drugs in Israel.
Joe was interviewed for this project in his home in April 2018, when he sat down with Mr. Masters.
Oral History Project April 26th, 2018
Ken Allen is a Toronto resident in his 101st year, interviewed in April 2017 by Masters at the McCowan Retirement Residence. Ken had many stories to share about his long life in and around Toronto. Ken was born in the then village of Todmorden, in today’s Broadview-Danforth neighbourhood. He remembers a very different Toronto, one with dirt roads and wooden sidewalks, where he spent his early days playing in the Don Valley. Born during the Great War, Ken remembers little of the war itself, but he does recall the flu that followed it, as he lost his mother in that pandemic. Growing up with a father and brothers, Ken recalls longing for his mother, and his jealousy of the other boys. Ken and his family experienced the ups-and-downs of the 20s and 30s, and when World War Two came along, Ken was ready to do his part, and he set out to join the RCAF. Poor health kept him out though, and Ken ended up in the army instead, where he was posted to the Intelligence Corps and sent to western Canada. While there, Ken mapped out the countryside as the Al-Can highway was under construction, and he interviewed Japanese-Canadians bound for internment centres, a task that he regarded as unsavoury, one of the many situations that led him to distrust the political class, Mackenzie King in particular. After time spent out west, where he also dealt with issues of the troops’ morale and taught courses, Ken spent the final year of the war in Ottawa in the Records Branch. It was not his favourite work though, and with demobilization Ken returned to Toronto and work as a graphic artist. He and his wife raised their two sons and made their contributions to postwar Canada, along with others of their generation.
Oral History Project April 19th, 2017
Bernie Collins was an RCAF navigator during World War 2. He started out his life in Toronto, Ontario, the only son in a large extended family. He helped his grandfather in his auto-shop, working with tin and learning to use his hands. When he got the chance, Bernie joined the RCAF, knowing that he was soon to be conscripted as a soldier. During the war Bernie was stationed on a number of bases, mostly in different parts of eastern Canada. He had to do many things, from finding out why certain planes crashed, to travelling back from north Scotland with crazy Texans. When not involved in those adventures, he learned about aircraft maintenance and design. After the war he resumed his education, and became a dentist, retiring at the age of 80. Bernie was interviewed in February 2017 by Liam Gardner and Scott Masters.
Oral History Project March 28th, 2017
John Milsom was born in Toronto in 1921. Growing up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, his hobbies included a crystal radio set and visits to Dufferin Airfield, where he developed a love for flying. Both habits would prove invaluable in the war to come. In the 30s, he was fortunate to attend Upper Canada College, where his interests included figure skating and tennis. From there he moved on to the University of Toronto, where his education would be interrupted by the war. John joined the RCAF, and over the next year he took part in the BCATP, and his training took him across Canada. After going overseas, John spent time in England, continuing with his training, and then he shipped off to Gibraltar, where he was stationed for his first operational duties as part of Coastal Command, flying in support of the convoys in the area. John’s next stop was back in Britain, where he headed north to Scotland and the Banff Wing. He finished the war flying Mosquitoes and attacking German shipping and troops in Norway and the North Sea. During that time he met his future wife, and they married as the war concluded. With the cessation in hostilities, John returned to Canada and his studies at U of T, falling back into the rhythm of civilian life.
Oral History Project January 31st, 2017
Stan Dinney was born in New Brunswick in 1922, near Moncton. His father moved the family to Windsor, Ontario for a few years when Stan was young, but he took the family back to Moncton with the coming of the Great Depression, when he secured employment at a family lumber mill. Stan enjoyed his early life and teen years in New Brunswick, and in particular he excelled at baseball. With the coming of the war, his athletic hopes were dashed though; he decided to join the RCAF, and by 1941 his training regimen was underway. Stan was moved to various parts of Canada, where the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan put him through the motions, and Stan was prepared to be an armourer and member of the ground crew. He was shipped overseas in 1941, and attached to numerous squadrons in Great Britain, where he serviced Beaufighters and Mosquitoes. Stan remembers coming under attack by a Junkers 88 on one occasion, the closest he came to enemy fire. Rather suddenly Stan was moved at the midpoint of the war, and after a journey through the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean, Stan was deployed on Ceylon, to the base at Koggala. There he serviced the Catalina Flying Boats, playing a crucial role in the RAF reconnaissance flights over the Asian theatre of war. Stan was there until April 1945, when he was returned to Canada. He ended the war by demobilizing the RCAF’s Lancasters, stripping them of their guns.
Oral History Project January 10th, 2017
Gordon Hunter is from north Toronto, a graduate of Lawrence Park, where he finished his diploma at the midpoint of the war. It was at that time that he was made aware of his military options, and Gordon opted for the RCAF. He went into an extended period of training, where he settled on being a navigator. Training took him to all parts of Canada’ where his open and optimistic personality led him to many interesting experiences, from New York City to the open nighttime skies of central and western Canada. When Gordon was preparing to go overseas, he was diagnosed with swollen tonsils, and the medical leave that followed coincided with the final months of the war; Gordon was consequently not sent to Burma, as he’d expected.
We met Gordon Hunter at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing, where he was interviewed in his room by Rory Peckham and Scott Masters, in July 2016.
Oral History Project August 9th, 2016
Oral History Project April 12th, 2016
The Crestwood Oral History Project is hard at work this month. World War Two veterans and Holocaust survivors have been visiting with the CHC2D students, helping them to complete their oral history interviews. Last week Mr. Masters and Mr. Hawkins took 17 students to Sunnybrook, where 4 veterans were interviewed. Three of them were RCAF veterans from World War Two, and one was a soldier in the Korean War. Our in home and in class visits continue this week – stay tuned!
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.
Oral History Project May 19th, 2015
Jack Glazier was born on St. Patrick’s Day in 1920 in Winnipeg Manitoba. His family later then moved to Regina. After studying engineering, Jack got a job designing diesel engines for a company in Athabasca, Alberta. At the age of 21, he had joined the RCAF . His Years after his pilot training had concluded and after being posted in England, he was assigned to take part in a convoy to Bombay, India (now Mumbai). Shortly after he was able to return home and continue his life in multiple provinces across the nation as he had traveled often. He is now 95 and lives in Toronto, Ontario, at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Centre. He was interviewed by Erik Usher and Joseph Eisentraut in February 2015.
Oral History Project May 3rd, 2015
Students in Mr. Masters’ senior history classes had the opportunity to meet Al Wallace this past week. Born in 1920, Al grew up in Depression-era Toronto; when the war began he enlisted in the RCAF, where he was trained as an air gunner. On his fifteenth-and-a-half mission, Al’s Halifax bomber was shot down over Germany. The students listened transfixed as Al described sitting at the edge of an escape hatch, looking at the darkness in front of him. He jumped, landing in a field, where he was taken prisoner, ending up in Stalag 3, site of the famous “Great Escape” of World War Two.
Please stay tuned to the Crestwood Oral History Project for Al’s full story .
Lt.-Col. Clint Mowbray is an active member of the Canadian Forces, serving with the RCAF in the Air Sea Rescue division. He has served all over Canada and has been involved in numerous rescue missions across the country; he has also served overseas in Afghanistan as part of the ISAF force.
Lt.-Col. Mowbray was stationed in Toronto at the Canadian Forces College, and he took time to visit us in March 2014, where he shared his experiences with students Justin Liang, Lucky Liu, and Andrew Gdanski.
Oral History Project April 24th, 2014
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.
Oral History Project December 20th, 2013
Mark Charness was born in Montreal in 1923. He joined the RCAF in 1942, and soon was designated as a flight navigator. In 1944 he was transferred to the RAF, where he ended up as a member of the Pathfinders. He flew in a Lancaster, where he joined up with an Australian crew. When the war was over, he returned to Canada and started up his own business.
Mark was first interviewed for this project by his grand-daughter Katherine, when she was in Mr. Scott’s CHC2D class. In 2012 he was interviewed again by Katherine, this time with Michael Lawee and Zach Brown.
Oral History Project January 11th, 2013
We met Walter Metcalfe on a field trip to the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing in the fall of 2012. Walter served in the RCAF in World War Two, when he flew numerous missions as part of Bomber Command. He enlisted and served in the infantry in the Korean War as well. Walter’s memories went beyond the war and included great details on his childhood in the Great Depression as well. He was interviewed for this project by Zach Brown, Antony Cook, and Brandon Lee.
Oral History Project January 8th, 2013
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.
Mr. Leonard Levy was a pilot in the RCAF during WW2, where he completed 32 bombing runs with his Lancaster crew, including the raid on Dresden. A Jewish Canadian, Mr. Levy also gives students insights into the anti-Semitism of the period, both in Canada and in Europe. Mr. Levy is one of the original Memory Project veterans to speak at Crestwood, and we are fortunate that he continues to visit us each year. Mr. Levy was featured in the CBC Remembrance Day documentary filmed at Crestwood in November 2006
Mr. Sam Garnet served in the RCAF during WWII. After training that took him across Canada and to the Bahamas, he was eventually seconded to the RAF, where he joined Coastal Command. Mr. Garnet was a wireless air gunner who served on B-24 Liberators; he spent most of his war doing transatlantic flyovers for the convoys involved in the Battle of the Atlantic. It was Mr. Garnet’s job to hunt for U-Boats and to keep the supply lines open. He first spoke at Crestwood in February 2009, where he was interviewed by T.J. Bickley. He has since returned to Crestwood and spoken to several classes, and he was interviewed a second time by Chris Leo and Ryan Chiu and a third time by Max Benitah. Mr. Garnet also went to Normandy for the 65th Anniversary of the D-Day landings in 2009, in the company of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Mr. Jim Eddy served in the RCAF during WWII, when he was connected to Bomber Command. While on a mission over Germany, his Lancaster was shot down, and Jim went on to be a POW in German prison camps for the remainder of the war.
We first visited Mr. Jim Eddy in his room at Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in October 2008, where he was interviewed by Crestwood student Zach Roher. On a subsequent visit in March 2009 he was interviewed a second time by Turner St. John Leite. We returned again in February 2016, when Adelaide Pike, Cole Morrison and Guanghao Chen were able to meet Jim – we thank him for his interest and involvement over the years!
Fred 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 pilot. After enlisting in the RCAF, Davies was sent to Manning Depot in Montreal for training. Davies was a member of No. 408 squadron and then No. 405 squadron, which became a part of the Pathfinders group. Davies’ 46th mission was to destroy some railroad tracks in Aachen. 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. They 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.
Howard Cossman was born on November 3rd, 1925 in Montreal, Canada and is here today in Toronto, retelling his courageous life stories. Growing up as a Jewish Canadian in the 30’s wasn’t always easy. Howard thought that one day he would have to show his appreciation of his religion and demonstrate his patriotism to his country. At the age of 17 he went to join the RCAF and later on he joined the Israeli army in 1948 fighting as a Machtal and as a leader of his brothers-in-arms in B Company of the 72nd battalion.
To this day his advice for people of the younger generation is to always believe in yourself, stay in school and stick to your goal in life. Howard was interviewed in early 2009 by Crestwood student Becky Tartick, and in November 2009 he came to the school to speak to Max Romano and Ben Stanborough.
Leonard Braithwaite was born in interwar Toronto, growing up in the downtown neighbourhood of Kensington Market. As the Great Depression took hold, the young Leonard went to school and helped his family out by selling newspapers. When World War Two came along, Leonard decided to enlist, only to be put off by a series of recruiting officers unwilling to take African-Canadians into the Canadian Forces. Undeterred, Leonard continued to try, eventually earning his place as an RCAF mechanic. After training in various parts of Canada, he was stationed overseas in England near the end of the war. On his return Leonard continued his schooling and earned a law degree – he still runs his practice in Etobicoke. Along the way he also served in Ontario’s provincial parliament and even became the first African-Canadian cabinet minister in Ontario. Leonard has received both the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada.
He was interviewed for this project by Crestwood students Matt Petrei, Cathy Kim, Andrew Spanton, and Ashley Audette.
Sorrell Gwartzman’s father Harold Rubin fought in the Canadian forces during WW2, and this interview is a record both of her experiences growing up in Canada during the war, and of his actions overseas. While her father enlisted and went on to be a member of the RCAF’s Precision Squad who was awarded the DFC, Sorrell remembers dealing with rationing, air raids, and patriotic sacrifice. She also remembers her father’s letters home and seeing him in uniform on his return. This interview, done by Crestwood student Howard Rosenblat in early 2008, offers a good look at both first- and secondhand memories of the war years.