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.
Fred Allen served in the Canadian Forces for many years; he enlisted and served overseas in WW2, and he kept this career going well into the postwar period. During that time he was also deployed to Vietnam, where he served as part of the truce commission.
Fred is a fantastic storyteller, and his recollections here include tales from his childhood, and we follow him through to his postwar education and career. Fred was interviewed by Crestwood students Brandon Lee and Andrew Northey, in his room at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in March 2013.
Gord Allen served in the Canadian Army during the Second World War. He grew up in prewar Toronto, where he remembers the tough times of the Great Depression; Gord recalls his father being out of work, and he remembers that he and his friends used to bring food to the homeless men down in the Don Valley. Gord did recall some of the good times, the sports and the movies that kept he and his friends occupied; at the same time, Gord admitted that he was unable to finish high school as he had to help out around the house. By the time of the war, the young Gord was married, with a family on the way, but even with this life development, Gord felt it was his duty to enlist when the time came. The air force was his first choice, but when that did not work out, Gord joined the army, and he was soon sent to Camp Borden. While there, Gord opted for the tank corps, hoping for more action. As the army was being reorganized for the new technological warfare of the battlefields in Europe, Gord ended up in the 17th Light Ambulance, in the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade. They would attend to the wounded and/or evacuate them back to Headquarters for hospitalization. Within the unit Gord was a motorcycle dispatch courier, so he would communicate information from the frontline tank infantry to the ambulance unit right behind. In this capacity Gord found himself right in the front lines, where he witnessed the horror of Caen, Falaise, and so many other battles in France, Belgium and Holland. Along the way Gord was himself seriously injured in Bruges, where an accident left him paralyzed for several weeks. Still, once back in health, he rejoined the unit and ended up in Germany at war’s end, where he remembers VE Day as a hollow victory. With the end of the war, Gord remained on the continent for a few months, delivering relief supplies for UNRRA. By the end of the year though, he was on his way back to Canada and his family, where he fell back into the rhythm of civilian life and Canada’s postwar rebuilding.
Mr. Masters visited Gord at his home in Fowler’s Corner, Ontario in July 2018, when he was interviewed for this project. We thank Gord’s family for their help in setting this up.
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.
Beatrice “Babs” Armstrong hails from Tring, not too far from London, England. She was the oldest of five children, born in 1923. She remembered life in Tring as being fairly commonplace, and she and her friends spent most of their time on their bicycles, or going to the cinema when they had extra change, something that was not too frequent in the depths of the Depression. When the war came, Babs’ father, a Great war veteran, reenlisted, and when she turned 18 at the midpoint of the war, she chose to join up as well. After training, she was deployed near Camberley, where she tended to the officers on the base. One of those NCOs happened to be Princess Elizabeth, and Babs had the occasion to serve the young princess, who spent her days at the base and her nights at nearby Windsor Castle. Babs met a young Canadian soldier stationed at Aldershot, and they began a romance which led to their marriage, and to Babs’ emigration to Canada as a war bride. She and her husband eventually settled in Toronto, where they began a family and pursued their postwar suburban dreams. When the now Queen Elizabeth visited Toronto in the mid-70s, Babs had the occasion to meet her and to speak to her, recalling days in Camberley.
We met Babs at the Tony Stacey Centre for Veterans’ Care in the east end of Toronto, where Babs was interviewed by Mr. Masters and Grade 12 student Navid Sarshar. We thank Jay Burford of the Royal Canadian Legion and Andy Barros at Tony Stacey for their help in setting up this connection.
David Astor served in the USMC during WW2. He enlisted in he early stages of the war, leaving his home in Portland, Maine for Marine training that took him all over the United States before his deployment to the Pacific theatre. David was stationed on both Guam and Guadalcanal, before finding himself transferred to the new Marine 6th Division. A captain in the newly formed division, David was instrumental in the development and early usage of the DUKWs, the amphibious vehicles that the Marines used in the later stages of the island hopping campaign. David’s most intense combat experiences came in Okinawa, the final Pacific battle for the USMC.
David was interviewed by Scott Masters at his home in Portland, Maine.
Norman Baker was born in 1916 in the west end of Toronto, where he attended Runnymede Collegiate. Norm’s parents hailed from Riegate, England and had emigrated to Canada before the Great War, and Norm and his two brothers were raised in the British tradition. And they were fortunate not to be impacted by the realities of the Depression; Norm’s father continued to work at the CN railyard, and his mother kept the boys fed, while they played sports and went to movies and school. With the coming of the war, Norm and his brother Hugh went into the reserves and later the regular army. Norm recalled his unit doing guard duty in Niagara, while he began to do clerical work. The call to go overseas came at the midpoint of the war, and Norm found himself on a troop ship bound for Scotland, and then on a train to Aldershot, where he was initially stationed. They spent much of the next year training, and Norm continued to work as the company clerk. With the cross channel invasion in June 1944, Norm was reclassified as 1A, ready to be a combat soldier. His unit made the journey in July 1944, landing in Arromanches. They headed inland towards the front lines, moving through the destruction of Caen and on to Etreville, where Norm was reassigned to the Royal Regiment of Canada. It was there that he first came under fire, from his own Lancasters, and then the Germans. Norm was made the company clerk as the previous clerk had been killed just before he arrived, and he made detailed notes as the unit moved through France, Belgium, the Netherland, and into Germany. With VE Day, Norm joined the celebrations in London, as he happened to be on leave; he then did the repatriation work for his fellow soldiers before he headed home himself in late 1945. A few years later, he met Eileen, and the two of them fell into the rhythm of postwar Canadian life.
With the assistance of the Royal Canadian Legion, Norman Baker was interviewed in his home for this project by Scott Masters in November 2018.
Carl Barker is a lifelong Mainer. Born in 1929, he grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, which he recounts through some fascinating specific memories, including that he slept in a drawer. As his father was a grocer, the family did not go hungry, but Carl remembers that he did not see a round orange until later in life (his father would bring home the spoiled produce with sections cut out). During the war, Carl made a point of having a good time; he reasoned that he would soon be in it, and the carpe diem philosophy only made sense. As it happened, the war finished just as Carl enlisted, so he spent his tour of duty in the occupation force that went to Japan. Carl was off to Yokohama, where he served in a Graves’ Registration Unit ; it would be his duty to identify the remains of the American airmen who had been shot down over Japan during the war. Carl did this for one year, and then returned to his life in the U.S. He returned to Portland, where he resumed his education under the G.I. Bill, and set out to make his life in postwar America.
Major Barker joined the Canadian Forces in 2000, and graduated from the Royal Military College in 2005. In 2008, he was deployed to Afghanistan, where he worked to help rebuild the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police force. During his time in Afghanistan, he received an official mention in dispatches for his exemplary work. In February of 2016, Major Barker visited Crestwood as part of a delegation from the Canadian Forces College, where he was studying at the time. He spoke with students about the reality of life in the Canadian military.
Ron Beal enlisted because he was part of the regiment already as a bugler and it was expected of him. After training and the overseas journey and several months of waiting, , he was sent to Dieppe. Ron’s division was given the task of clearing the field battery that had a firing position on the beach The training received and resources allowed to the mission were not enough and the Canadians suffered a horrendous defeat. Ron and his comrades surrendered after their officers decided that more bloodshed was useless. Ron was taken to Lamsdorf, Germany and placed in Stalag VIIIB. Boredom was very present for prisoners in POW camps: they constantly thought up with creative ways as to how to keep themselves busy. After prisoners were liberated some celebrated but most were too weak to move and were transported to Britain for care. Ron was put into the hospital with all the other injured soldiers while he was regaining his strength and planning his return to Canada.
Ron presently lives in the Suynnybrook Veterans’ Wing, where we were privileged to visit him in November 2011. Students Richard Laramie and Duncan Gilfillan interviewed Ron for this project.
Walter Bell is the father of Mrs. Sue Brownlee, a Crestwood Staff member. As a member of Britain’s Royal Artillery in World War Two, Mr. Bell began training in England, before heading to Freetown, Sierra Leone to train African troops. He eventually took his trained troops and headed to Burma, where he fought for Britain against the Japanese, until the end of the war. In January 2015, he sat down with Mrs. Brownlee and Crestwood student Danielle Gionnas to share his experiences.
Evelyn Bloom grew up in prewar Montreal, enjoying life near “her beautiful mountain”, while at the same time seeing the harsh realities of the Great depression. When the war came, she and her sister decided to enlist. They understood that Canada was under assault, and stories of U-Boats in the Gulf of St. Lawrence only confirmed their decision. Evelyn joined the CWACs; she was at first deployed in Longeuil, but later was transferred to Ottawa, where she became a pioneer in the new computer technology being utilized by the Canadian military. Evelyn’s job involved setting up the terminals, doing data entry, and keeping track of the materiel involved in Canada’s WW2 operations. When the war came to an end, Evelyn was demobilized; she returned to Montreal, where she reconnected with a childhood acquaintance, a man by the name of Harry Bloom. Harry had served in the Signals Corps during the war. The two built their life together in postwar Montreal, where Evelyn became an art teacher.
Don Blowe served in the Canadian forces during WWII. He enlisted in the Essex Scottish regiment at the age of 18; after training he was sent to England and he then saw action in France, Holland, and Germany. In Holland he was wounded in his leg; after he recovered he participated in Operation Veritable, where his regiment entered in Germany’s Reichswald Forest region. Don was interviewed by Crestwood student Eric Colwill in March 2009.
Ev Bluestein served in the American Army during WW2, specifically General Patton’s armoured corps. When they made their breakout from the Battle of Normandy, Ev and his comrades fought through France and into the Netherlands and Germany, helping to bring the European war to its conclusion. Ev came to us courtesy of Len Levy, a longtime contributor to Crestwood’s Oral History project. Ev spoke to Mr. Masters’ American History class in March 2011.
Major Levon Bond is a member of the current Canadian Forces, one who specializes in air force intelligence operations. He has been deployed overseas on a number of occasions, including in Haiti, where Canada provided disaster relief after the devastating earthquake. More recently, he was sent to Afghanistan and Qatar, where he worked to provide intelligence and support to coalition forces in their battles in the ongoing war on terror.
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.
John Boyd was born in Alberta in 1915. He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, though he said he was lucky to have been sheltered from the toughest times. The harsh conditions did push his politics to the left, and John was attracted to the leftist ideals of the time. After graduating high school in Vegreville, he made his way to Toronto, where he eventually joined the armed forces, choosing the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals. After training John was selected as an editor for the army magazine The Signalman. He pursued this occupation after the war too, as journalism was a natural fit for John.
We met John at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing in July 2017, when he was interviewed by Crestwood students Arielle Meyer and Samara Black.
Michael Boyer is a veteran born in Toronto, into a big family. Fairly well-to-do, Mr. Boyer and his family were less affected by the depression than many. He joined the army at a young age and became part of the Fourth Field Royal Canadian Artillery. Travelling to Europe, Mr. Boyer fought along allied forces such as the British 8th Brigade in battles that eventually liberated the Netherlands and defeated Germany. After the war, he returned to Canada to attend University.
The interview with Mr. Boyer was done at Sunnybrook Hospital in January 2015 by Crestwood students Steven Feng, Guanghao Chen, and Owen Salter.
Tom Bradley is an American veteran of the Second World War, having served with the 29th Infantry Division in Europe. Tom hails from New Jersey, where he grew up during the Great Depression. When the war came, he was in school in Massachusetts, expecting to go on to college. But the government had other ideas, and he was sent off for basic training and then overseas to Europe, one of four brothers from the Bradley family who would do the same. Tom went ashore at Omaha Beach in the weeks after D-Day and along with the 29th he set out across France, and into Belgium and Germany. Tom served in the Ammunition Corps, keeping the front line soldiers supplied with needed materiel.
Scott Masters interviewed him at his home in Falmouth, Maine in July 2016.
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.
Odie Brooker was born in 1929 in Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood. In the midst of the Depression, Odie was placed in the care of the Children’s Aid Society. He spent the next nine years in foster homes in the Caledon region. At age 15, he snuck into the Canadian Army and spent the next year training at the Exhibition grounds and living in the Horse Palace. He was discharged shortly after VE Day, without seeing combat. He later reenlisted during the Korean War, where he served as a mortar operator. He survived his service, with a few very close calls, and returned to Canada in early 1953. In February of 2016, he sat down with Crestwood students Kevin Guo, Peter Li, Julian Spaziani and Sabrina Wasserman to share his experiences and memories
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.
Larry Bunston was born in Saskatoon, but early in his life his father made the decision to take the family to Ontario, hopefully to make a better life for his family. Larry grew up in different parts of Ontario, notably Oshawa and Brantford, where he and his four brothers played sports and kept on their parents’ good side. With the coming of the war, all four brothers enlisted, and Larry and another brother made it overseas. Larry went into the army, and after training at Camp Borden, he made his way down east, where a troop ship awaited him in Halifax. In England he was trained as a despatch rider, with motorcycle and truck driving lessons in his future. He crossed over to France shortly after D-Day, where he found himself in many precarious positions as he fulfilled his driving duties. Several times he was in search of broken down vehicles and almost fell into German hands. Wounded near the end of the war, Larry was sent back to England and his future wife, and later they made their way together back to Canada, falling into the rhythm of Canada’s postwar boom.
Grant Burningham served in Canada’s mission to Afghanistan in 2013, helping to train the Afghan national police force and working alongside fellow police officers from an array of nations. Deployed for thirteen months, he was able to experience the many facets of this country in crisis, reminding us that military and overseas service remains a core component of Canada’s national character. He was interviewed for this project in April 2014, by student Anthony Audette.
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.
Gord Cameron was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1921. Gord lived in the west end with his dad, mom, and sister. Gord went to the University of Toronto school. When the war came, his medical school and internship were accelerated, as the army wanted him in their service. By the time he was ready, the war was winding down, and Gord spent most of his time dealing with convalescent soldiers in Toronto, as well as on the troopships. With the end of the war, Gord fell into the rhythm of civilian life, going into practice and making a life with his family. Gord is a father of four; he has two girls and two boys.
Gord was interviewed for this project by a delegation of CHC2D students in January 2018.
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.
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.
George Carrigan is Mr. Masters’ grandfather. He was a veteran of the Great War, who went off to fight in that conflict with five of his brothers. George was born in rural Nova Scotia, and he often spoke of the war as an opportunity to escape the limited opportunities that awaited him. He was among the initial volunteers and he trained in the Sam Hughes camp at Valcartier and was among the Canadians to arrive in England and then in France. His division was shipped to the front at Ypres, where he was involved in the German chlorine gas attack of April 22, 1915. Wounded on several occasions, he was eventually discharged in May 1918 and sent back to Canada, where he re-settled in Nova Scotia before re-locating to Ontario. He died in 1991 at the age of 102.
In October 2014 Len Carrigan, George’s son, spoke to Mr. Masters, sharing firsthand accounts that he remembered about George Carrigan.
George Carter was born in Toronto, Canada, and was the first of 14 children of John Carter and Louise Braithwaite Carter, who were from Barbados.
Carter excelled in sports as a cricket player, and he was a strong student as well. He was also very social and from an early age he understood the importance of networking, building relationships with many people he would know throughout his life. He also connected with the Universal Negro Improvement Association and was inspired by visiting speakers such as Marcus Garvey and A. Phillip Randolph.
In 1944, Carter received his B.A. from Trinity College, University of Toronto. In that same year, he went into the Canadian army. While he did not serve overseas, he was sent to numerous camps, such as Ipperwash, and was selected for officer training. He was instrumental in creating the Toronto Negro Veterans Association after the war. After his military service, Carter went on to Osgoode Hall from 1945-48 to study law. After completing his education, he became one of Canada’s first black lawyers. He was appointed as a judge in the 1970s, the second native-born, black Canadian to be so honoured.
In that regard Judge George E. Carter was instrumental in establishing legal aid services and in the formation of the Adoption of Coloured Children agency.
He was interviewed for this project in February 2015 by Scott Masters and Kathy Grant.
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.
Bob Chartre grew up in prewar Quebec, one son in a very large family. He remembers well the difficulties of the Great Depression, and even recalls that his father was happy when he and two of his brothers were called up for the war as that meant fewer mouths to feed! When Bob went into the army, he entered the famous Chaudieres regiment, which had so distinguished itself in the Battle for Normandy. Bob completed his training in Canada and in Aldershot, England, and from there he reported as a replacement soldier to the regiment, and he was deployed in France and especially the Netherlands in the closing stages of the war.
We met Bob at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in July 2018, when he was interviewed by Mr. Masters and a delegation of Crestwood students taking a break from summer vacation.
Henry Chu was a captain in the South Korean army during the Korean War of 1950-53. When his family was separated with the designation of the 38th Parallel, he found himself in the south. With the coming of the war, he became involved in a commando unit whose job it was to inflitrate enemy forces and to operate behind enemy lines. In this capacity he worked with American advisers, conducted sabotage operations and took numerous enemy prisoners. For his service he was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Henry visited Crestwood in April 2009, where he was interviewed by students Dan Kwon and Han Jongsha. In 2011 he sat down with all of Crestwood’s Korean students for a special lunch and discussion; the interview session was completed by Amanda Lee and Max Ahn.
Kelman Cohen, born in 1925, was the son of Morris Cohen and Esther Minden of Toronto. Morris Cohen was a Russian immigrant. Kelman grew up in the Great Depression and in his own words, ‘we all suffered’. Kelman had a colourful childhood in downtown Toronto, and he shared many of his recollections from the neighbourhood and from school. He joined the Canadian Army reserves in 1941 at age sixteen, went overseas with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry in March of 1945, and ended his service in the Queen’s Own Rifles as part of the Canadian Army of Occupation September 15 of 1946 .
Kelman was interviewed at his home for this project by Willa Easton, Rory Peckham, Hartley Gelkopf and Harlan Rich in February 2016.
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.
Audrey Collens-Smith played her own role during the Second World War…the accordion. Her job was to keep Canadians’ morale high – and to keep them entertained. Teenagers at the time, she and her sister Mary toured military bases on the home front, and played all kinds of events to keep Canadians smiling and dancing. Audrey was born in Toronto on March 28, 1928, and she grew up in the city’s west end. She and her sister took up the accordion when they were quite young, and played together as a duet – the Dew Sisters. During the war they played for many charities, as well as many shows at military camps, Camp Borden in particular. They were one of the “Victory Entertainer” groups; Audrey also tapped with the line dancers (Audrey is featured in a performance in the last segment on this page, showing that she still has it at 92!). Mary married Mike Collens, a veteran, in 1948, and together they raised three daughters, Wendy, Sandra and Patti. Mike and Audrey lived in the Gravenhurst area for many years, as well as owning a cottage and spending time in Florida. Mike passed in 2006; later, Audrey married Gordon E. Smith, also a WW2 veteran whose story can be found on this webpage.
We met Audrey courtesy of the Gravenhurst Royal Canadian Legion and Allan Denne; Scott Masters interviewed Audrey in her home in August 2018.
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.
Vera Comber grew up in London; when she was 12 she was evacuated with her school from London to the countryside. When she returned, she endured the Blitz and remembers spending nights in the Underground. While living in London, her sister enrolled in the land army, and soonafter Vera did as well. She was sent to a dairy farm out in the countryside, where as a teenaged girl she made her own contribution to the war effort. Vera came to us courtesy of the RCL, and she spoke to Crestwood students Savannah Yutman and Emma Jane Stewart in early 2011.
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.
Rene Cournelisson’s World War Two story is one we have not previously heard at Crestwood. Rene was born into a family of thirteen, and he grew up in prewar Holland, a nation that found itself occupied by Germany in 1940. Rene like so many Dutch chafed under the restrictions of occupation, and like many brave young Dutch citizens, he joined the resistance, doing what he could to disrupt the Nazi regime. When the Americans liberated his area, Rene made the decision to join the Royal Dutch Air Force, hoping to take the fight to Germany alongside the Allies. But they had a different agenda for Rene, and with the end of the European war on the way, Rene was dispatched to the Far East, and his training took place in Australia, as he and his crewmates learned their way around the B-25 Mitchell. They were sent to active duty in New Guinea, but the war with Japan ended quickly. Rene chose to stay in the Dutch East Indies to work in the colonial plantation system for a few years, eventually returning to his family in Holland, where he found the opportunities too limited. Having seen the world, Rene looked for a new place to settle, and memories of Canadians from the war led him to Toronto, where he built a life and family postwar.
We met Rene at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in June 2018, where he was interviewed by Mr. Masters and a delegation of CPC students.
Joe Cournoyea was born in the Tweed, Ontario in the early 1920s. He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, in a large family in a rural area of eastern Ontario. While four of his older brothers served in the Second World War, Joe and the younger children worked the family farm, though Joe set out on his own at an early age, working with a local tanner. Too young to serve in that war, Joe followed his family’s military tradition and went to Korea and Germany when his military career began. He served as part of Canada’s peacekeeping missions in those places in the 1950s and 60s. When his service concluded, Joe returned to Canada and built a life for himself, working in the civil service, where he recalled his time as a driver for both John Diefenbaker and Lester B. Pearson.
We met Joe at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing in July 2017, when he was interviewed by Crestwood students Arielle Meyer and Samara Black.
Joe Cuccaro hails from Plainfield, New Jersey. Born in 1937, he spent his early years growing up against the backdrop of World War Two, though for Joe his earliest memories of boyhood center on the New York Yankees. In the 1950s Joe went on to higher education, and the ROTC became part of his life, translating into a military career as the 1960s dawned. Joe was ready to leave the military life when the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred, and his tour was extended by President Kennedy, as was the case with so many other soldiers. Joe did go into private life, but he found that he missed the military, and he reenlisted. It was at this time the Vietnam War was heating up, with American involvement beginning in earnest in 1964. Joe trained for jungle warfare and was deployed twice in Vietnam, initially in the mid-1960s and again as the 1970s were getting underway. In between Joe remained on active duty as an officer, and he played a role in maintaining the peace in Detroit and Washington D.C. as the 1960s polarized America. Joe’s military career continued as the American role in Vietnam came to
Mr. Curtis was in the military from 1939-1945. He was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Mr. Curtis was in Communications, he was in charge of operating a radio as well as knowing Morse Code.He spent 3 years in basic training before going off to fight in Europe. His campaigns were in Italy, and what was left of Germany after D-Day. After the war Mr. Curtis went on to go to university and later became a school teacher. He married and had 3 children. He was interviewed for this project at Sunnybrook by Crestwood student Alex Stevenson.
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.
Daryll Davies is in the present day RCMP. He has served in many UN peacekeeping missions, reminding that not only soldiers take part in these missions. Daryll has visited many troubled regions in this capacity, among them Bosnia, East Timor, Jordan, and Afghanistan. His roles included police training and dealing with cold cases and war crimes in Bosnia. In Afghanistan he accompanied the Americans on many patrols. Daryll spoke to the Politics 12 class in March 2012, where he provided insights into the complicated world of international relations.
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.
Charles Dayton was born in the Prairies, but his family moved to Vancouver when he was a baby, and that is where he would grow up. When he finished high school in 1941, he joined the airforce, and he eventually became a navigator. With the war underway, Charles was stationed in many areas in Canada and overseas, before being sent to India. That is the area where Charles spent most of the war, tasked with many cargo runs as he delivered supplies to the Allied troops fighting against Japan in the Burma Theatre.
We met Charles at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing in January 2018, where he was interviewed by a delegation of CHC2D students.
Ronald Denham served with the Canadian Forces during the Cold War years. In addition to his in Canada deployments, which included a stay in the Arctic, Ronald was stationed on the frontlines of the European Cold War, where he was part of the British Army on the Rhine. He was able to offer thePolitics 12 class many insights into his time in Germany. Ronald in addition was part of the Canadian peacekeeping force deployed to Cyprus during the 1970s crisis on that island. Ronald was interviewed by the entitire Politics 12 class in February 2012, and student Kee Mennell prepared this project.
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.
Jan De Vries was 18 years old when he decided to enter the war. He joined the army and passed basic training, choosing to enlist in the paratrooper – or Para – battalion. He went overseas in 1943; in England the Paras continued their training.
On June 5, 1944 the men got up and prepared the parachutes for D-Day. It was still stormy and they were surprised that they were sent off. De Vries was in one of the first Para battalions to land. He had to go in to capture a field, knock out a German headquarters, blow a bridge and protect the field so the rest of the troops could come in. Chaos reigned the first night, but he did achieve his objective, going on to fight his way through Normandy, the Netherlands, and into Germany. Jan is an Order of Canada recipient and we are very pleased to have hosted him at Crestwood.
Major Dias joined the Canadian Forces as a reserve Radio Teletype Operator with 745 (Edmonton) Communication Squadron in 1993. While he was attending the University of Alberta, he was accepted into the Reserve Entry Scheme for Officers and was commissioned in 1996. While at 745 Comm Sqn he served in a variety of positions: Troop Commander, Recruiting Officer, Assistant Operations Officer, Course Officer and finally Deputy Commanding Officer. During his time in the Reserves, Maj Dias had the opportunity to deploy on domestic operations including Northern Canadian deployments in support of Sovereignty Operations and OP ABACUS (Y2K). He was also fortunate to serve overseas twice as a Reservist in Bosnia on OP PALLADIUM as part of a Multinational Headquarters.
Maj Dias transferred to the Regular Force in 2005, where he was immediately posted as the Operations Officer for 1 CMBG HQ and Signal Squadron. He deployed with the Squadron as part of Op ARCHER to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2006. This mission was in support of the Multinational Brigade (Regional Command – South) Headquarters and Signal Squadron, part of the US led Op ENDURING FREEDOM. He was awarded the CEFCOM Commander’s Commendation for his work with the Afghan Mission Network, which connected coalition partners on a shared network, providing mission critical information to those who needed the most. He was then deployed on Op PROTEUS, Jerusalem as a projects staff officer and Deputy J6 in the US Security Coordinator in support of the Middle East Peace Process.
Major Dias visited Crestwood in February 2016, when a number of Grade 10 history students interviewed him for this project.
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.
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.
Doug Duckworth was born in England in 1923. He moved from England to Canada in 1930. Like most young people, he dropped out of school to join the war effort. He learned to march like a soldier and be part of a group; pilots were never taught how to use parachute in case of emergency! He went to school for six months and learned to fly on a elementary plane called a “Tigermoth”. As a Pilot Officer hereceived more respect soldiers must salute you and higher wages. He also got 6 dollars a day as a Pilot Officer versus 3 dollars as a Sergeant. The war in Europe ended shortly after he received orders to go to England, so Doug volunteered to go to the Pacific Front – but that ended too. There were many pilots trained in the war and not a lot of work post war for commercial pilots, so when Doug returned home he started up a very popular fish and chips restaurant which he still owns today.
We met Liam Dwyer at the Castle Peak Retirement Suites in Bracebridge, where he presently lives. Liam 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. As a published author, Liam took the lead in the process, and the attention it generated north of the city caught the attention of the Crestwood community, leading Mr. Masters to investigate.
Liam served in the RCN during the Second World War. He came of age and enlisted, and began his training right away, studying to be an engineer aboard ship. His studies were cut a bit short though, as the Battle of the Atlantic had created pressing need, and Liam was called upon to serve. He was posted to a minesweeper in the western part of the Atlantic and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, clearing the way for the many convoys passing through the region. He recalled many tense times from that part of the war, and remembers the tremendous pressure the crews felt. From there he was posted to the Sarnia, and he began convoy duty, patrolling the western reaches of the open ocean. On one of those mission, Liam’s ship the Sarnia came upon the remains of the Esquimault, their sister ship; it had been torpedoed by a U-boat and had lost a good portion of its crew. Liam’s ships helped with the rescue and the survivors, returning them to Halifax. With the end of the war, Liam returned to his young family, and along with others of his generation, he fell into the new rhythm of civilian life, and helped Canada to forge its postwar identity.
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.
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!
Ardwell Eyres served in the Canadian Army during the Second World War. Born in Cameron, Ontario, Ardwell grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression. His father was a farmer, so Ardwell remembered that they always had food to eat, but he was aware of the economic circumstance that befell others. Ardwell did go to high school for a time, but he remembered that it was not for him, so he opted for farm work too, eventually leaving school and working on his neighbour’s farm when he was a teenager. While at school, he did become aware of the war, and with the coming of the war , new opportunities opened up for him as the Canadian government began to focus on the war effort. Ardwell took classes to prepare him for this, and he sought to become a draftsman. That took him to Toronto, and Ardwell was at the centre of the new technical economy, working for Addison Radio. By now 18 years old, Ardwell knew he’d soon have to make a choice; he knew the army would soon be looking for him, so he opted to join up so he could he choose the area of the forces that he wanted. Ardwell and a friend joined up, and were quickly whisked off to the Exhibition grounds and basic training. While there, Ardwell was prepared for a role in the Signal Corps, but the needs of the war effort saw him redirected to the Medical Corps. Soon the men were sent to Halifax, and Ardwell was posted to his first ship, the Lady Nelson hospital ship, and they were sent overseas, ready to be play a role in the Normandy invasion. They did take wounded back to Canada, mostly men from the Italian campaign, and Ardwell had compelling memories of that first voyage. On return to Canada, Ardwell was posted on the Ile de France, a troop ship, and he spent the remainder of the war on this ship, ferrying men to the overseas campaign in Europe. Along the way, Ardwell had many experiences and adventures on both sides of the Atlantic, as he did his part to put Canada on the road to victory. With the end of the war, Ardwell made his way home, settling and marrying in the west end of Toronto, and he and his wife fell into the rhythm of postwar Canada, raising a family and playing their role in Canada’s growing economy and changing society.
Meng Fan was born in 1926 in Sumatra, Dutch East Indies, which now is Indonesia. Later he moved to Hong Kong. When war came, Hong Kong had to support in war efforts. However, Hong Kong was lacking resources such as food. Meng Fan volunteered to join the army. He started with training and was barely 20 years old on the battlefields. He worked closely with the American G.I as an army translator and soldier. After the war he did some business but did not go well. Later in his years he moved to Canada with his family when China was recovering from the tragic aftermath. He is currently 92 years old. Fan MengXiang was interviewed by Miranda Su, Martin Chang, David Huang, and Arielle Meyer at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing on November 3, 2017.
Edmund Fassbender was born in Germany in 1925. He moved to Cologne, where he spent the rest of his years leading up to the war. Edmund joined the Hitler Youth at a young age. Like most young men, he was conscripted at age 18. He was a private, who trained as a sharpshooter. He was sent to numerous fronts but was finally stationed in the Ardennes, where he was captured by Americans. He went to England to be held in US P.O.W Camp. When the war ended in 1945, he was transferred to British P.O.W Camp, where he remained until 1948 because Germans were source of labour for the British.
Edmund was interviewed for this project by Crestwood student Eric Colwill.
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.
Richard Field served in Canada’s 2nd Division during World War Two. He grew up in Toronto during the Depression years, where he was able to finish school and join the prewar militia and sea cadets, two organizations that would teach him many valuable lessons in the upcoming war years. When Richard moved into the regular army, he chose the artillery, where he learned all the facets of life in a 25-pounder crew. His training began in Canada, and after an uneventful troopship passage across the Atlantic, it continued in England. Shortly after D-Day, Richard’s crew was sent to Normandy and quickly into Belgium and the Netherlands, and Germany itself. As an artillery crewman, Richard provided support to the front line infantry troops, and he remembered intense battles in the Reichswald Forest and other sites along the route.
We met Richard at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in June 2018, where he was interviewed by a delegation of Crestwood students and Mr. Masters.
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.
Lawrence Fish was born in Crowle, England in 1923. He was the eldest of four siblings. In school he went to seventh grade and then started to work in farming and driving trucks. Most of his childhood was spent working as well as helping with his siblings. In 1941, once he was old enough to enlist, he was sent to training camp and was then sent to North Africa and Italy to fight. He stayed in the British Army until 1946, where he finished his service as part of the army of occupation stationed in Austria and Greece. After returning to England Lawrence moved to Canada where he soon met his wife and later had five children. In 2016, he was interviewed by his granddaughter Angeline Dine, and in the summer he was visited by Scott Masters for a follow-up session.
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!
Jack Foote served in the RCN during WW2. For many years he and Fred Walden spoke to Mr. Masters’ history classes about their support role in the D-Day invasion and aftermath. After Mr. Walden passed away in 2008, Mr. Foote decided to retire from speaking at schools but in 2010 he did agree to sit down with Patrick Park and JK Kim for an in depth interview about his wartime experiences. Since he has come of retirement and came back to Crestwood to speak to History 12 students; he was also our special guest for Remembrance Day 2010, when he was featured on a special broadcast of Crestwood’s Remembrance Day assembly. We visited him in his home in April 2016, when he spoke with Will Paisly, Rory Peckham and Harlan Rich.
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.
Alan Forster was born in Toronto, growing up in the city’s east end during the Great Depression. From a military family, he joined up as soon as he was able, heading off to training and then to England. Shortly after the D-Day invasion, Alan headed to France, to begin his “baptism under fire”. They were in the thick of it, right away, fighting through Normandy and into Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany itself. Alan’s memories of those times are clear, and his stories are ideal for Canadians looking to find insights in the minds of young Canadian men in the 1940s.
We met Alan in his room at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing, where he was interviewed for this project in April 2015. Crestwood students visited again in January 2018, this time filming Alan in HD!
Ed Forsyth is a Canadian veteran of WW2, having fought his way through France, the Netherlands, and Germany. We met Ed through the Royal Canadian Legion, where he is a proud member of the Brigadier O.M.Martin Branch at Peard Road. Ed is one of many members at that branch who have taken part in this project. Ed is also working hard to preserve memory too, as he is presently working hard to develop a Wall of Names, where the names of all Canadian soldiers killed in overseas conflicts will be featured.
Ed was interviewed for this project by Mr. Masters in April 2012.
Jim Fowler served in the Canadian Forces during the Cold War era, and as such he participated in a number of peacekeeping missions from the period. Jim was deployed in Germany, and was posted to a number of bases in Canada; most notably he served in the Suez in the early 70s, during the period of Nasser’s presidency. As such Jim followed the actions of the initial UN peacekeeping force, helping to consolidate Canada’s role in this area. Jim was in Egypt when a Canadian Forces Buffalo 461 was downed, a flight that he was almost a part of. Jim 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 the Legion Branch 11, courtesy of Helen Pearce. The interview was developed by the Grade 9 Tech classes during the 2015-16 school year.
Gerry Foyle served in the Canadian Forces from the 1950s to the 1990s, building a career during the period that corresponded to Canada’s “Golden Age” of foreign policy and peacekeeping. Gerry joined up in the 50s, still a teenager, when Canada was involved in the Suez Crisis, and he went on to supply the Canadian Forces in a number of their peacekeeping and peacemaking endeavours, everywhere from the Congo to Operation Desert Storm. He became involved in Transport Command, also supplying Canadian embassies around the world, and in Canada Gerry participated in Search and Rescue as well. Along the way he worked in every aircraft imaginable, and his service saw him fly Canada’s political elite all around the globe, from the prime minister to the Queen Mother, and the Queen herself.
Gerry Foyle was interviewed by Scott Masters in July 2018. We thank the Deseronto Legion for their efforts in setting up this interview.
Earl Gardner is a proud member of the Canadian Forces in the postwar era. He joined its ranks in the days of the Cold War, and he recalls the tensions of the Cuban Missile Crisis in particular, as well as the rebuilding that followed Hurricane Hazel in Toronto. Earl’s career covered many aspects of the Forces; he served in intelligence, spent time in the provost corps as an MP, and he spent time training American soldiers during the Vietnam era, and he was an important part of the Canadian Forces’ public outreach program, particularly during the 50th Anniversary of D-Day in 1994. Earl was brought to our attention by the Jewish War Veterans of Canada, and he happens to be the brother of Crestwood grandfather Norm Gardner, whose story can also be found in this project.
Earl was interviewed in his home by Mr. masters in March 2018.
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.
Peter Gerquest is from Saddle River, New Jersey, where he was born in 1932 and spent his early years. When it came time to leave that rural community, Peter attended Hamilton College, and it was about that time when his impending military commitments began to affect his plans, with war in Korea underway. Peter was candid about the fact going to war was not his preferred choice, but the reality of the time dictated something else, and off he went. Fortunately for him, the war ended as he arrived, and most of his Peter’s time in Korea was spent manning the DMZ, and ensuring the truce. When his tour was over he returned to the U.S., pursuing his education at Columbia, and eventually going into the shipping business, a career he would follow until his retirement.
Peter presently lives in Falmouth, Maine, where he was interviewed for this project by Scott Masters in August 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.
Norm Gogo grew up in Toronto and Michigan, as the family moved when his father was transferred and began work in the Motor City. But the good economic times did not last, and as the Depression worsened the family returned to Canada along Hwy. 5. Back in Toronto Norm went to school in the city’s west end, and during his teenage years he opted to follow the military lifestyle of his father, joining the 48th Highlanders militia when he was old enough. Norm did the drills and attended the parades, and all the while he watched the war clouds begin to loom over Europe while he worked and made ends meet at the Robert Simpson Company in Toronto. The company had a strict rule about no personal phone calls, but the militia did not know that rule, and when war was declared Norm found himself summarily called to the Armoury, and his life quickly was on a new trajectory. He left Simpson’s behind and began regular army training, with an eye to his future role in the emerging conflict. The company prepared to ship out that winter, but as Norm was not yet 19, he was not allowed to go. His time would come a few months later, in part because he and a friend took signals/communications training. With that new skill in hand, they were sent overseas in 1940, and Norm began his journey across the English countryside, always on the move from one base to the next, all while honing his physical conditioning and signals acumen. Along the way, Norm took ill, and he spent a considerable time in hospital, going through sinus surgery and recovery. He also managed to find a girl and get married during this early portion of the war! But those two asides did not deter Norm and the others from their ultimate role, and he was dispatched across the English Channel a few days after D-day, putting his signals training to the test in one battlefield after another as he made his way through France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. As he had been overseas for a long period of time, Norm was recalled to Canada early; he remembers that he was on the ship heading back when VE Day occurred. Back in Toronto, he was united with his war bride and young family as they had secured an earlier passage thanks to the Canadian military. Norm fell back into the rhythm of civilian life, first living with his parents and then getting a home on his own, and he returned to work at Simpson’s. But after five years of training and fighting, the job did not have the same allure, so he opted to work for the Toronto Fire Department, where he made a career for 35 years.
We met Norm courtesy of the 48th Highlanders and Al Kowalenko, and Scott Masters interviewed Norm in his home in Penetang in August 2018.
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.
Myer Goobie is from East York in Toronto. He visited us in October 2012, when he was interviewed by students Antony Cook and George Giannopoulos. Myer served in the Canadian Forces during the Second World War, specifically the Devil’s Brigade, a commando unit made up of American and Canadian soldiers. Myer saw action in Sicily, Italy, and France. Myer’s segment was videotaped by a representative from canadashistory.ca, and this segment can be seen in their archives as well.
Harry enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces when he was eighteen years old. Harry was sent to fight in Italy after his training in England.
He was there when the Allied troops bombed and destroyed the abbey at Monte Cassino. This was one of the darker memories he has of the War. Some of Harry’s happier recollections are of the time he spent near Pompeii. After the war Harry became a family man and moved to Scarborough, and later to Midland, Ontario. He married and had three children. Harry presently resides in the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Complex.
Harry was interviewed for this project by Crestwood student Dana Davidson.
“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.
Pete Gregerson served in Canada’s armed forces in both World War Two and Korea. Born and raised in the west end of Toronto, Pete grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, attending public school and then Central Tech, where he studied to be a draftsman. Pete enlisted in the army as WW2 came to a close, but because he was too young, he was not shipped overseas. He was in the midst of transportation training, and was expecting to be shipped to the Pacific when the atomic bombs brought the war to a close. Now a young man, Pete began to make his life in postwar Canada, marrying and starting to raise a family. When the Korean War got underway in 1950, Pete decided to enlist, going into the Princess Pats as a gunner. He took part in the momentous Battle of Gapyeong, and he served Canada and the United Nations forces with pride during those years. Pete now lives at Sunnybrook in the Veterans’ Wing; he was interviewed there by Mr. Masters in May 2015.
Stanley Grizzle has led an illustrious life, and Crestwood students were fortunate to meet him in the spring of 2013 – on several occasions – and we are indebted to Kathy Grant and the Legacy Voices Project for setting up that introduction.
Stanley Grizzle was born in Toronto in 1918, to Jamaican parents who immigrated to Canada in 1911. He grew up in downtown Toronto, where he attended Prince Edward School and later Harbord Collegiate. He became a railway porter at the age of 22 to help support his family. In 1938 he became involved in the executive of the porters’ union, initiating a period of activity which would make him one of the leaders in the black Canadian campaign for civil rights. After receiving his conscription notice, he served in the Canadian Army in Europe during World War II, where he was trained as a member of the medical corps.
After the war, Stanley’s political role continued to grow, and he was eventually appointed a Judge of the Canadian Court of Citizenship by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, a first for an African Canadian.
Stanley received the Order of Ontario in 1990 from Lieutenant-Governor Lincoln Alexander and the Order of Canada in 1995 from Governor General Romeo LeBlanc. He also received the Order of Distinction from Jamaica for his valuable contributions to Canadian society. Most recently he was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal by Ontario Lieutenant-Governor David Onley, celebrating Stanley’s contributions to Canadian history.
Bill Grosberg was born on September 21st 1924; he was only 5 years old when the Depression hit. During the Depression Bill had to work so he could afford to go to school; he worked at a boys camp, an experience that helped him a great deal in later life. Bill was still in school when the war began. He would serve in WW2 from 1944-1946 in eastern Canada in the Royal Regiment of Canada administration. Bill is now currently 92 years and living a healthy life at the Sunnybrook Hospital, where Crestwood students Edward Li, Chris Sanders and Dean Sun interviewed him in February 2017.
Norman Gulko served in the Canadian army in World War Two, where he saw action on several fronts. After training and the overseas journey, he was deployed to Italy. When that campaign was nearing its conclusion, he was sent to the Netherlands, where he fought through northern Europe and into Germany itself. Norman brought many personal insights about his wartime experiences to Brandon Chow, Katherine Charness, and Daniel Sugar, who interviewed him at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ residence in November 2011.
Margaret Haliburton joined the RCN in WW2, where she served as a WREN. She has spoken at Crestwood for several years, and she has brought a number of other women with her, including her sister Barbara Yule and her friend Francis Todd. All three women give students an insight into life on the home front for Canadian women.
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.
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.
Francess Halpenny hails from eastern Ontario, where she grew up in the 20s and 30s. The family relocated to the Toronto area early on, and it was there that the young Francess fell in love with books, as she made her way through the Great Depression and built upon her education, which would take her to the University of Toronto. When the war came, Francess saw all the young men around go into the military, and she resolved to the same. She found herself in eastern Canada for most of the war, first in Newfoundland and then in PEI. Her work was in the Meteorological Office, helping with the weather forecasts that were a vital part of Canada’s contribution to the Battle of the Atlantic.
We met Francess in the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing in March 2017, where she was interviewed by Arielle Meyer and Mr. Masters.
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.
Phil Harmon is an American veteran of the Second World War from Maine, where he presently lives in the town of Hollis. Originally from the Cape Elizabeth area, Phil grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, though his family was fortunate to be spared many of its most negative impacts. By 1939, as events in Europe and Asia spiralled into war, Phil was attending Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, where he ran cross country. But as the U.S. entered the war, Phil received his draft notice and reported for duty in 1943. Training took him to Missouri, and he was shipped to Marseilles, France, not long after D-Day. His unit made its way north, preparing to enter the Battle of the Bulge. And it was during that battle where Phil was wounded, soon after reaching the front lines. He spent several months in the hospital recovering from a chest wound, and by the time he was returned to his unit, most of the fighting was over. He spent several months in Europe during which time he met his sister in Paris; then he was shipped home, where he was happy to leave his soldier’s life behind him.
Phil was interviewed for this project by Scott Masters in December 2015.
We met Kitty Hawker at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing in April 2017. Kitty was born in 1920 in Windsor, Ontario, and she and her family spent Kitty’s early years in southwestern Ontario and the Detroit area. The family saw tough economic times during the Depression years, but they made it through, and by the time war came, Kitty was ready to join up and do her part. She enlisted in the CWACs and was deployed overseas, ending up in Northern Ireland from 1942-45, Kitty was a radar operator, watching for the incoming Luftwaffe, along with returning Allied airmen. She recalled that much of the work was dreary, but she took solace in the fact that she was doing her part, along with all the others in her generation. Kitty then and now took solace in the camaraderie of her generation and the times.
Vic Henderson was a tank man in the war. he went ashore in France on D-Day + 7 and fought through Normandy, the Netherlands, and into Germany. We met him in the Brookbanks neighbourhood, and he was kind enough to share his memories with Crestwood student John Shahidi.
Joseph Hertelendy served in the Hungarian army in World War Two. When Hungary found itself in an alliance with Nazi Germany, he was forced into action on the eastern front, where he saw action at Stanislaw and Stalingrad. He returned home after being wounded on the battlefield. After the war, Joseph was sent to a Soviet prison camp, where he spent a number of years before escaping to Hungary. The difficult realities of postwar Hungary convinced him to make the escape to Canada, where he has since made his life and career.
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.
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.
Edward “Ted” Hoare grew up against the backdrop of mid 1930s London. Ted received a scholarship to attend a uniform school, but he wasn’t able to attend due to a lack of financial resources. He eventually got a job and registered for the military at the age of fourteen, and he subsequently joined the Home Guard at the age of sixteen. Ted recalled hearing about Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and he was well aware of the different political parties that existed in prewar England. Ted enrolled in the army after turning eighteen. Training took place mainly in England and included operating a machine gun and mine laying. Ted then made his way overseas to North Africa and Italy, where he eventually and took part in the Battle of Monte Cassino. There he suffered a wound that brought his “life in khaki to an end”. When the war concluded, Ted returned to England and eventually emigrated to Canada, where he raised a family.
We interviewed Ted at the Muir Retirement Home in Newmarket in January 2015. Amal Ismail-Ladak took the lead on this interview, along with students Izabella Osme, Akib Shahjahan, and Danielle Gionnas. In October 2017 we visited Ted again, in his new home at Sunnybrook. Students Arielle Meyer, Adelaide Pike, Trevon Thomas and Steven Lazar interviewed him by the billiards room.
Harvey Horlock is a veteran of the Canadian Forces from the postwar years. He enlisted in the 1950s, with the memory of the sacrifice of his World War Two uncles fresh in his mind, and in that decade of service he helped in the clean-up after Hurricane Hazel, among other events. He has been heavily involved with the Métis Nation of Ontario for many years, where he is a past president. He has also represented the Métis Veterans at the Oshwegan National Memoriam Day and he has been invited by the Premier’s Office to represent the MNO at the Remembrance Day ceremony in Queen’s Park. Mr. Horlock is also past representative for Ontario to the National Veterans Council and past member of the National Aboriginal Veteran Association (NAVA). Mr. Horlock is a proud member of the Toronto Scottish Regiment, and a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Todmorden Branch number 10, and it was they who brought him to Crestwood’s attention.
Mr. Horlock was interviewed by Mr. Masters at his home for this project in March 2018.
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.
Crestwood students Max Saunders and Alex Ross visited Edward Hutton in his room at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in November 2010. There he told them about his wartime experinces and memories, and of his love for the game of football.
Ikeda Koiichi was connected to the Japanese military during the Second World War, serving in a procurement capacity for the overseas army. He was born in the Maijuru region, where he remembers growing up poor. When the opportunity came, he began his time overseas, originally serving in Manchuria, and that is where he spent most of the war. When the end came in 1945, he and many other were making their way back to Japan when they were stopped at the northern border, arrested by Soviet troops. Ikeda and many others were detained in Siberia, trapped by the newly emerging Cold War. He spent several years there, detained in Siberia and then Uzbekistan. When he did return to Japan, Ikeda and many others took their case to court, where they have been trying to win compensation and recognition from the Japanese government.
Ikeda Koiichi was interviewed by Scott Masters and Shahmir Kyani in July 2017 at his home in Osaka, Japan. We are thankful to Naoko Jin for setting this interview up, and to Yoshie Ishikawa for her translation back in Toronto.
Harley Iler grew up in Essex County, in southwest Ontario. Harley spent his formative years on a farm, where he remembers his parents struggling through the difficult years of the Great Depression. Harley attended school in a one-room schoolhouse, and at home he tinkered with his HAM radio, developing the passion and technical know-how that would serve him well in the war years and in his career to come. With the coming of the war, Harley was torn; on the one hand, he wanted to serve his country alongside his friends, but on the other hand Harley grew up in the Baptist Church, and like his ancestors, he was a committed pacifist. An ad in a prewar magazine gave him his opportunity; wireless operators were needed in the merchant marine, and Harley signed on, seeing it as a way to uphold both of his commitments. Harley was assigned to a Greek cargo ship called the Lily, and he set out on a convoy from New York City to Scotland. It was a difficult trip there and back, replete with mechanical failures and terrible weather. Harley decided it was enough, and he applied to be an officer on a Great Lakes steamer, where he spent much of the following year. From there, he made his way to Toronto, where his technical skills were put to work at Research Enterprises, a crown corporation in Leaside. Harley worked to develop Canada’s radar technology, which kept him busy until 1945; as an essential worker, he was deferred from military service. Harley recalled the joy and exhilaration of VE Day, after which time he continued work in the technical field, first on electrocardiograms and then electric transformers.
Murray Jacobs grew up in prewar Toronto, where he saw some of the city’s growing pains in the 1930s. That included the infamous Christie Pitts Riots of the 1930s, in which he was involved and was forced to confront the reality of local anti-Semitism. He enlisted in World War Two, where he would serve in the engineering battalions. He was sent overseas and eventually went ashore at Juno Beach in the week after D-Day. His regiment fought through Normandy, the Netherland, and into Germany. Murray has since visted the Netherlands, where he is a proud member of Canada’s army of liberation. Today he continues to involve himself in the Royal Canadian Legion and the Memory Project. He was interviewed for this project by Matt D’Ambrosio and Brian Schwartz.
Alex James was born in 1920s Toronto, and he grew up largely in the city’s east end. Alex shared with us his memories of interwar Toronto, and what it was like growing up against the backdrop of the Great Depression. He remembered it as a time when everyone was the same, not knowing that they had nothing. In spite of the tough times, Alex had mainly positive memories of the time, recalling the schools and the airplane models he built. When the war came, Alex said the rationing had some impacts on his family, but overall the expectation of sacrifice was there, and people largely complied with C.D. Howe’s regimen. For his family that included a farm, where Alex spent much of his time working once he left school. When it was Alex’s time to join up, he chose the air force and began his training in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, going from one base to the next as he honed his skills as a mechanic. He specialized in wireless repair, and was quickly selected for “overseas” duty, which meant – in the parlance of the time – Newfoundland. Alex spent the remainder of the war repairing the Hurricanes at gander and St. John’s, helping Canada and its Allies to maintain their upper hand in the Battle of the Atlantic. With the end of the war, Alex was discharged, and he began to look for work, and to adjust to life in now postwar Toronto.
Mary Jarvis grew up in Ontario in the prewar era, in the Markham area just north of Toronto. She grew up in a conservative, church-going family, in what was then a largely rural community, and Mary recalls chafing just a bit against those restrictions; like her friends, she would have loved to enjoy the movies and dances that were making their appearance. With the war, Mary enlisted, recalling it to be a duty and an expectation – and a way to escape those familial restrictions. She chose the CWACs, and her training took her to Ottawa, where she learned to become a driver. After time on the home front, she was sent off to England to play her role ferrying troops and equipment to the Channel ports. Mary remembers driving the roads in the dead of night, and the talks she had with the wounded soldiers in her charge. She also remembers fulfilling the rebellious streak that led her into the army, and the loss that was part of life – her fiance died on D-Day. Soon back in Canada, she fell into the rhythm of civilian life, marrying and raising a family, and finding her way in postwar Canada
Fred Jeffery is a lifelong Mainer. Born in 1918, he grew up in South Portland, and when World War Two began, he was able to graduate from college before entering the Coast Guard Academy. Unhappy with his experiences there, he decided to try something new, making the decision to enter the Marine Corps. Training took him to Parris Island and Camp Lejeune, where he became a phone lineman, a crucial task in the new style of warfare envisioned by the Corps. After heading out to Camp Pendleton in California, Fred made his way across the Pacific, where he was based on Guadalcanal. From there his unit moved immediately into combat, first on Bougainville and then on Guam; fierce resistance from the Japanese was encountered on both islands. Fred experienced all the difficulties that the Pacific theatre had to offer, including a bout of dengue fever. After Guam, Fred went into his last battle, the momentous and deadly battle for Okinawa. There too Fred survived many near death experiences; and in Okinawa he was preparing for the invasion of Japan when he learned of the atomic bombs and the Japanese surrender. Fred’s unit was sent to China, where they accepted the surrender of Japan’s forces in that region. Return to the U.S. followed in January 1946, and Fred made his way back to Portland via train, where he fell back into the rhythm of civilian life, raising a family and following a career in education.
Fred was interviewed by Scott Masters in July 2015.
Eric Jensen grew up living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. When he was 16 years old, he moved to Toronto. When Eric first joined up they sent him to Windsor, Ontario where he was a part of the sea cadets. After basic training Eric was sent to Halifax for a cooking course; two Montreal based chefs helped Eric get through training. The first destroyer Eric was sent on was HMCS Saskatchewan and went through sea trials; from there he was transferred to the Haida where he participated in Atlantic and North Sea combat operations. Eric came to us courtesy of the Memory Project. He was interviewed by a group of Grade 10 history students in February 2011.
Robert “Bud” Jones was born in the St-Henri District of Montreal, and educated in the school districts of St. Henri, Montreal and Verdun , Quebec. Bud Jones is a decorated career soldier of 30 yrs, and a veteran of WWII who also served in Korea. He grew up in Depression-era Montreal, where Bud remembers his family going on relief, while he went to school. When he decided that school wasn’t for him, Bud went to work, and when the war came, he enlisted alongside his friends. Bud recalls that being an African-Canadian was not too much of an obstacle for him; he remembered that his diminutive stature – he is 5’1″ – was the more significant issue. He went to Petawawa for basic training, where Bud was at first put in the armoured corps, though he was later reassigned to the infantry. Sent overseas at the midpoint of the war, Bud was stationed in England for a time, before his regiment was deployed across the Channel after the initial D-Day invasion. As Bud was on leave at the time they made the crossing, he rejoined his men in France, where they quickly learned the realities of battle as they pushed in through Normandy. Bud served all the way through to Germany, liberating villages and towns in France, Belgium and the Netherlands; he was not physically wounded, but at the conclusion of the war, the army put him in S category, meaning there were concerns about his stability after witnessing the horrors of war. Bud‘s doctor suggested boxing and physical training, and the combination worked so well that Bud excelled and became a champion, and a member of the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame. He also went on to become a career officer, which included overseas duty during the Korean War. Bud is a man of many talents, and one who has proved through his life what a proud Canadian man of colour can accomplish.
Bud was interviewed for this project in December 2018 at his home in Brockville, Ontario, by Scott Masters and Eric Brunt.
Mac Joyner was on May 24th, 1923 in Hamilton, Ontario. As a small child, he and his family moved all around North America, mainly in the southern United States, including California, Florida and Georgia. With all the moving, school life was quite difficult for Mac. After settling back into Canada, Mac grew up living the average life of a boy in Hamilton, taking part in the town sports like baseball and basketball. Before the war, Mac recalls the introduction of radio, with some of his favourite programs being Amos ‘n’ Andy and Fibber McGee and Molly. As a teenager, Mac took a special interest in aircraft. He was a part of a aircraft model crew, and visited one of Hamilton’s small airports frequently.
As the war broke out, Mac was sure his family would support his enlisting as his father was already a Canadian war artist and was overseas a year before Mac. Mac eventually enlisted at the age of 18, along with his high school friends and others in the area. Mac went on to train at Manning Depot and graduated from #5 AOS in Winnipeg. He travelled overseas on a troop ship, during which he was in charge of a 20mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft cannon. When arriving in Liverpool, Mac got his first real war experience as there was a German air raid taking place at the same time. By the end of Mac’s tours in the war, he had taken part in a total of 33 major operations. He was a navigator bombardier in a Lancaster bomber.
Mac Joyner was interviewed in his room at Sunnybrook in January 2015 by Matti MacLachlan, Bowen Ouyang, and Viki Tao. In 2016 he was again interviewed, this time by Aidan Reilly, Mert Tutcu, Aaron Joshua and David Huang.
Kaneko Eishi served in the Japanese Imperial Army during World War Two. From a working family near Kyoto, he grew up learning the traditions of interwar Japan, and he was imbued with the Shinto faith and an ardent athlete. When the war came, he was identified as a strong math student, so the army prepared him for the signals corps, and he was given specialized training where he began to learn encryption and decryption in addition to the standard military regimen. When his time came, he was sent to Manchuria for a time, where he practiced his signals and communications role. From there he returned to Japan for a family visit, where the included photograph was taken. The army next sent him to Bangkok, but American submarines thwarted their arrival and he ended up in the Philippines in 1944. There, he and his men were constantly on the move, aiding their comrades and evading the Americans. They finally surrendered in the summer of 1945, and later that summer they were returned to Japan, where Kaneko reunited with his family and began his postwar life.
Mr. Masters met Kaneko Eishi in Osaka, Japan in the summer of 1945, and he would like to thank Naoko Jin, who helped to set up the interview; former student Matthew Shapiro; Matt’s student Shahmir Kyani who aided in translating at the time of the interview; and Mr. Masters’ own student Yoshie Ishikawa, who did the translating and editing back in Toronto.
Eugene Katz was born in Dyszna, Poland in in 1927. He was one of five children, growing up in a Jewish family not too far from Vilna; he recalls a difficult life, beset by hunger and poverty, but also filled with family and friends. When war came in 1939, Eugene’s family was in eastern Poland, the part of the country assigned to the USSR in the infamous 1939 Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. The family suddenly found itself under Soviet domination; as big a change as this was, life continued, though clear signs of Soviet communism began to enter their lives. 1941 saw the real change though…Germany initiated Operation Barbarossa, and within a matter of days Eugene’s family was under the heel of the Nazi regime. The family was quickly put in a ghetto, and Eugene’s oldest sister Sophie was murdered. Life became increasingly difficult in the ghetto, as the young Eugene and his family struggled to survive. Then the darkest of days arrived, with the liquidation of the ghetto by the Einsatzgruppen. Most of Eugene’s family was taken to a killing site and murdered. Eugene was there, witnessing these terrible events, but he and his brother escaped, taking advantage of the fog and running into the forest. Now a teenager, Eugene joined the Russian partisans, and he managed to survive four intense years of warfare, often the victim of political intrigue and anti-Semitism in the Red Army. Very crafty and clever and willing to do what he had to, Eugene made it, the only member of his family to survive the war and the Shoah. He began to rebuild his life, marrying and working in Riga, and in the 50s he made it to Poland, and from there Canada. Every step of the way his survival instinct kept him afloat, and he went on to create a prosperous business in postwar Canada, helping to build the country we know today.
Eugene Katz was interviewed at his home in July 2017, by Crestwood teacher Scott Masters. The interview was set up courtesy of the Jewish War Veterans Association of Toronto.
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.
When the war first broke out, Mr.Kewen was a young man from Saskatoon who was still in school. On Oct 10, 1940, with support from his family, he joined the army after all of his friends had joined.
Like his younger brother, he wanted to be an navigator, but instead worked as a mechanic on the home front. He was sent to a technical school in St.Thomas, where he was trained as a mechanic to work on aircraft. He was stationed in Canada for over a year then sent overseas to Burma for over a year, when the war was finally over. After the war, Mr.Kewen received many medals. He came back to Canada,got a job and went back on to living his normal life.
Mr. Kewen was interviewed by Crestwood student Eric Lee in April 2009.
John Kilpatrick joined at the age of 18 and became an officer at 20. He operated between Newfoundland and Londonderry, the North Sea, the Bay of Biscay, and D-Day. His family believed that joining the war was a duty of being a Canadian citizen and they strongly supported his enlistment. John served honourably and then returned to Canada to begin his postwar life.
He was interviewed in his room at Sunnybrook by Amanda Lee, Max Ahn, and Laurel Freedman in November 2010.
Bill King served in the Canadian Forces from 1951-56. Bill grew up in Nova Scotia, against the backdrop of WW2. He remembers well the sacrifices of other family members who served in that conflict, and he considers them the real veterans. Bill’s service coincided with the Korean War, and although he did not go to Korea, he was decorated by the Korean government, for his role in the transhipment of supplies through his European base. Bill’s service took place in Europe, in both France and Germany, just as the Cold War was heating up. He has fond memories of his time in both nations, and considers himself lucky to have served alongside other NATO forces. At the end of his term, Bill resumed his life in Canada, taking a job with CP in Toronto. He remains active in the Legion, and we thank Helen Pearce and Legion Branch 11 for hosting this interview.
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.
Ron Kirk served in the Canadian Forces in the post-WW2 period, when Canada’s peacekeeping reputation was being established. Ron served in the navy, and he spent time in Korea during that nation’s 1950-53 war. Ron and his shipmates patrolled the Korean west coast, doing their part to counter North Korea’s efforts to export communism. He also spent time on the peninsula, where Ron remembers visiting an orphanage, and seeing the suffering that war brought to so many. He and the many Canadian soldiers who served in Korea did what they could to alleviate those difficult conditions, something for which they were remembered and thanked on subsequent trips to South Korea.
Mr. Kirk visited us at Crestwood in April 2018, when he and fellow Canadian Forces veterans Mike Vencel and Andy Barber shared their stories with Mr. Hawkins’ CHC2D class.
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.
Victor Latowski was born in Saskatchewan, Canada in 1922. He has two sisters, and his family worked on a farm. Growing up, the Great Depression had a big impact. Situations became difficult in that they did not have enough to eat. He joined the army when he was 15 years old because the army offered benefits. Victor trained in Canada at first. He later went on the troopship and headed to England. As part of the Canadian army overseas, he was stationed in the town of Aldershot. He continued his training, and as driver operator of the Sherman Tank, he was part of the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Canadian Hussars) that attacked Juno Beach on D-Day. Victor fought through Caen and Falaise, until the end of the war. Upon returning home he had a rocky relationship with his parents and decided to join the air force as he loved planes. The first aircraft he trained on was the Avro Anson, a training bomber. He also flew an Avro Lancaster which was his favourite. He also performed peacekeeping service with the United Nations in India and Cyprus. His career in the RCAF lasted 25 years. Victor Latowski was interviewed by a delegation of Crestwood students at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in November 2018.
Guy Lavergne is a veteran of the Korean War, where he fought alongside United Nations troops in the early 1950s. Guy’s stories remind us that there is an important legacy to capture about one of the 20th century’s “forgotten wars”, not to mention Canada’s important role in the U.N . We met Guy at Sunnybrook in May 2012, where he was interviewed for this project by Antony Cook and George Giannopoulos.
Sheldon Lawr was born in Brampton, Ontario on 1922, and grew up in nearby Georgetown. He is the second eldest of his three brothers. Due to the economic difficulties of the Great Depression, Sheldon Lawr never completed high school, instead he worked on farms (including a memorable journey to the Prairies via boxcar) and at a airplane assembly plant in Malton, Ontario. Despite being trained in heavy and light infantry, Mr. Lawr spent most of the war working as a transport driver, carrying supplies behind the Allies as they advanced from Normandy to Germany. Mr. Lawr’s journey allowed him to see the devastation that war had caused to the continent, particularly in Liberated Holland. After the war, Mr. Lawr returned to Georgetown, Ontario where he met and married his wife, and began his family. He was interviewed in 2015 by Brandon Baijnauth and David McCall.
Major Olivier Lefrancois joined the Canadian Forces in 1997, having made the decision to attend Royal Military College. After initial training, he was deployed in Quebec, where he helped in the recovery efforts after the ice storm. From there, Major Lefrancois was stationed in different parts of Canada, including North Bay, Resolute Bay and Cold Lake, and the United States, where he served in a NATO command in Oklahoma City. He has as well been part of several overseas deployments, serving in Qatar, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
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.
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.
Larry Levy served in the Canadian Army in northern Europe during the war. After enlisting, training, and the overseas journey, Larry went ashore at Normandy and fought his way through northern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Larry served with Signal Corps, and it was his task to locate enemy artillery. Larry brought many personal insights and mementoes to his February 2012 interview, where he sat down with students Alex Galperin, Natasha Hare, and Brandon Deeb. Larry returned in March 2013, this time with Daniel Henareh, Nasir Jamali, Saeed Foodazi, and Henry Lui. Larry is a great raconteur, and we are thankful to Historica Dominion for introducing him to us.
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
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.
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 totalled more than 6,600 hours of flying missions. His job in Korea was mainly to deliver Canadian service personnel, mail and supplies to Korea, and bring back the wounded, usually American. He also took part in the Vietnam War in 1972, where he played a role that was for many years classified. 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. A longtime supporter of our work, Mort returned to Crestwood in may 2018, where he presented his life story to History 10 students.
Gerald Loweth came to us courtesy of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, where he has been a featured speaker. Gerald continues to teach at University of Toronto’s Trinity College.
Gerald brought a different perspective to Crestwood’s interviews. As an American, growing up in New Jersey against the backdrop of the Great Depression and war, Gerald was able to look into the American point of view, touching on both the European and Pacific conflicts. When Gerald was drafted the war was nearing its conclusion, but he went through all the training and was deployed to the Pacific, finding himself on Okinawa when the atomic bombs ended the war. Gerald was then in the army of occupation before returning to the U.S.
In April 2012, Gerald spoke to Mr. Masters’ American History 11 class, and then sat down for an interview with Sarah Mainprize and Antony Cook.
Michael Lustgarten was able to get out of Poland as the Nazi onslaught began in 1939. He made his way to Russia, where he was on the move, sought by both German and later Soviet authorities. His travels eventually took him to a Soviet work camp and later to Kazakstan and then finally on to Iran, where he would eventually join up with the western Allies.
Crestwood students Kyle Seigel and Chase Farbstein spoke to Michael at Baycrest’s Cafe Europa in early 2010.
George MacDonell was shipped overseas early in the war; he and his fellow soldiers expected to be sent to England, but they were instead sent to Hong Kong, to help in the defence of that British colony. Overwhelmed by the Japanese attack in December 1941, George and his fellow Canadians fought valiantly, only surrendering when ordered to by the governor of the island. George went on to be a POW for the remainder of the war, surviving the brutal treatment of the Japanese POW camps. George has worked through the Memory Project for several years now; he has now spoken at Crestwood many times, including at Crestwood’s 2012 Remembrance Day Assembly. Michael Lawee and Jessie Cooke interviewed him at that time, and in February 2017 we again visited George, with Audrey Melkoumov, Rhys Malisch, Zach Morris and Macaulay Harling taking the lead on this project.
Albert Mahon was born into a large family in south London, England in 1923. He grew up in a working class neighbourhood, where school was not a top priority. Instead Albert went to work, and much of his childhood and early years were spent working a variety of jobs, as well as helping with his siblings. Once he was old enough to enlist, he was sent to a number of training camps in England, where he readied himself for the fight to follow. He was sent to North Africa, where as an AA gunner he was involved in the defence of Bizerte harbour. From there he went Italy to fight; he was stationed in a variety of locales, notably the Allied airfields in Foggia. He stayed in the British Army until 1946, finishing in Italy, where he was a guard in the war crimes trials that were underway. After returning to England Albert met his wife, and the two of them moved to Canada where they started their family. Albert became actively involved in the church, and participated actively in choir, where he made a reputation for himself. In 2016, he was interviewed at Kensington Gardens Health Centre by Scott Masters.
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.
Charles Mann is a Canadian veteran of World War Two who served with the Black Devils. Originally from Port Hope, Charles and his family were affected by the Great Depression, like so many other Canadian families. Charles left school for work, but with the coming of the war, he enlisted in the army, and when they asked for men to sign up for special services training, Charles jumped at the opportunity, soon finding himself in the Second Parachute Battalion. From there, he went to Montana, where Canadian and American soldiers together went into the Special Services, later to be re-named the Black Devils. After the arduous training was complete, the first destination was Alaska, but the Japanese had left just weeks before the Devils arrived. He was then shipped off to Africa, and from there he saw combat in Italy and southern France; Charles welcomed VE Day in London, England.
Charles visited us in May 2013, where students Sarah Mainprize and Stephanie Erdman took the lead in his interview.
Wilfred Martini grew up in a little mining town in Germany called Hamm. He was 11 years old when the war started. He enrolled in the Hitler Youth Program and was drafted into the Artillery at 15 years old. He was then sent home for a year then drafted into the infantry. He fought Americans in the front line but was taken as a prisoner of War. He spent time in the POW camps and was sent home at 16 years old after the War was over. He came to Canada when he was 29 and has been here ever since.
Ken Maslen grew up in prewar London. When the war broke out he served on a tugboat, until he saw his chance to join the RAF’s Air Sea rescue branch. He served there in a variety of English Channel postings through the first half of the war, where he was involved in many rescues. Later in the war he was transferred to the Far East, where he continued his rescue duties off the east coast of India and into the Burma theatre.
We met Ken through the Royal Canadian Legion on Peard Avenue, when many Crestwood students have volunteered at Remembrance Day dinners. He came to participate in this project in November 2009, where students Chris Cho and Turner St. John Leite took the lead. He has since returned to Crestwood on several occasions, to present to classes and to do additional interviews. In the summer of 2016 Mr. Masters and Rory Peckham visited him in the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing.
Major Daniel Matheson is a current member of the Canadian Forces, who hails from Indian Harbour, Nova Scotia, a small fishing community just outside Halifax. He joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in 1997 right out of High School under the Regular Officer Training Plan and attended Royal Military College in St Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC and Kingston, ON. Upon graduation in May 2002, he was commissioned into the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. After completing his Artillery Officer training in August 2002, he was posted to 2 Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (RCHA) in Petawawa, ON as a Troop Commander in E Battery. He deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan on Operation ATHENA in 2003-2004 with Kabul Multi-National Brigade (F Battery) as Radar Troop Commander. His second tour was in Kandahar, 2006-2007 with Task Force 3-06 1 Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group (E Battery) as a Forward Observation Officer / Forward Air Controller. In June 2007, he was posted to the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School (RCAS) in Gagetown, New Brunswick and completed the year-long Instructor-in-Gunnery Course (Field). In 2011 he was provided the opportunity to join 1 RCHA in Shilo, MB as principle staff in the capacity of Regimental Command Post Officer (RCPO). He was promoted Major that same year and took Command of A Battery, 1 RCHA in June 2012.
Major Matheson has taken part in two domestic operations as well. He was involved in the Ice Storm clean-up in 1997/1998 as an Officer Cadet attending RMC Prep Year in St Jean; it was his first real exposure to the Canadian Army. Major Matheson said: “My experience during this time impressed upon me the importance of the diverse role the Armed Forces can and should play in times of domestic as well as international strife.” He was also involved Operation PALACI in Roger’s Pass, B.C. first as a Troop Commander in 2003 and as the lead Technical Authority for 1 RCHA in my capacity as RCPO in 2011/12.
Major Matheson visited us at Crestwood in March 2015, along with four other officers from the CFC.
Martin Maxwell was born in 1924, in the city of Vienna. He grew up amidst difficult circumstances in the 1930s, when Hitler come to power. On December 31, 1938, Martin and his brother left Austria to go to Great Britain on the Kindertransport. Martin was adopted by a family there. In 1942, he joined the military. Because of his European roots, he was considered an Enemy Alien, and was only allowed to join the Pioneer Corps. On June 5-6, 1944, Martin and his squad participated in the D-day landings. His job was to pilot a glider behind enemy lines and take 3 enemy bridges. Martin was later captured during Operation Market Garden and was sent to a POW camp in Hanover. On May 1st 1945, Martin and the rest of his fellow prisoners were liberated by a British tank battalion, which marked the end of the war for Martin Maxwell.
Martin was interviewed at his business by Crestwood students Brandon Liebman and Adam Wilson. Since he has participated in this project several times, and in 2012 he was interviewed at Crestwood by Justin Memar, Nick Mennel, Lucas Brum, and Justin Yeung. In 2016 he visited with Mr. Hawkins, along with Julian Spaziani, Victoria Xu, Spencer Arshinoff and Anthony Radford-Grant.
Kelvin McDonald served in the Canadian Forces from the 1970s to the 1990s. During that time he was deployed as a peacekeeper on multiple occasions, helping to set a high bar for Canadians serving overseas. Kelvin was first deployed to Egypt, maintaining the peace along the Sweetwater Canal during the time of the Egypt-Israel 1973 War. Shortly after, he went to Cyprus, where Canadians had for a decade kept the warring Greeks and Turks apart. Kelvin also served as an instructor in multiple roles in the Canadians Forces, going up the ranks from corporal to sergeant along the way. By the 1980s he was deployed overseas again, this time to Croatia, where the difficult Yugoslavian civil war of that decade was underway. Kelvin recalls the tensions of the time, in particular a prisoner exchange that he was asked to oversee. But the most difficult peacekeeping mission of his career lay ahead, and it happened in Canada – Oka. Mohawks outside Montreal had set up barricades as part of a land protest, and Kelvin was asked to lead his men into the fray and to use restraint in diffusing the conflict. It was a stressful time for him and his troopers. Kelvin retired from duty after 28 years, and he presently lives in Deseronto, Ontario, where he was interviewed by Mr. Masters at the Legion hall in July 2018.
Roger McLean was born in Scituate, Massachusetts. An avid baseball fan and player, he went to Andover and Princeton, and went on to serve as a forward artillery observer in Korea and after the Armistice worked with the local Korean population building a primary school with materials sent from the U.S. He received his discharge in Japan, and accompanied by Princeton classmate Don Oberdorfer, he set out on a westward round-the-world trip back home. These experiences led to a year on the GI Bill at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. From there Roger went into publishing and cable TV.
Roger and his wife Latie presently live in Falmouth, Maine, where Roger was interviewed for this project by Scott Masters in July 2015.
Major Reginald McMichael joined the Canadian Forces in 2001, having made the decision to attend Royal Military College. After initial training, he was deployed in Alberta as a member of the PPCLI, and he rose through the ranks as an officer. From there, Major McMichael was sent on several overseas deployments, serving in Afghanistan at the height of Canada’s involvement in the Kandahar region. He commanded an infantry company and dealt with the difficult situations that came his way. Once back in Canada, he was assigned a political detail, serving in Ottawa as part of the Minister of Defence staff.
In May of 2017, Major McMichael visited Crestwood as part of a delegation from the Canadian Forces College, where he was studying at the time. He spoke with Careers 10 students about the reality of life in the Canadian military.
Jim McPhee served in the RCAF during the Second World War. Jim grew up in northern Ontario, not too far from the Sault; Jim came from a large family, and lived not too far from Bruce Mines . Jim remembers going to a one-room schoolhouse in his early years, as well as work on the family farm, which insulated the family from the hunger of the Great Depression. As Jim got older, he left the community so he could attend high school, and with the coming of the war, the teenaged Jim found himself doing “victory” work for Algoma Steel. The work was arduous and Jim elected to go into the military; he opted for the air force and began his training stint in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which took him all across the country. Jim had hoped to be a pilot but at that time the RCAF needed gunners, so Jim became an air gunner. Soon he was dispatched to Halifax, and from there the troopship took him to England. More training and crew selection followed as the men were prepared for the bombers. Jim and the crew were assigned to 408 Squadron, on Halifax bombers. They flew their first mission in November 1944, largely without incident. The second was flown later that month, but on just his second mission, the Halifax was hit; Jim was able to bail out, and he found himself on the ground in Germany. He spent a week surviving on his own, but he was found on a rural farm, and taken into custody. That marked the beginning of his life as a POW. Jim was interrogated and eventually sent to Stalag VIIB. But the Red Army was fast approaching, and the camp guards began a forced march of the POWs, moving them further into Germany. One morning the Germans were gone, and the men found themselves in Soviet custody, about to be pawns in a prisoner exchange scheme. Jim managed to escape at this point, making his way to the American zone – and liberation. He was taken to hospital and began his recovery, which would continue into Britain and Canada. Back across the Atlantic, Jim remained in the army and helped his fellow soldiers in the demobilization process; many of those he met were physicians, and that prompted his own interest in medicine. Against the odds, the farm boy from northern Ontario completed his education and graduated from medical school, going on to a long career of caring for others, and contributing to the postwar evolution of Canada.
We met Jim at his home in Barrie in July 2018, when he was interviewed by Scott Masters and Crestwood alumnus Zach Brown.
Phil McTaggart served in the coastal patrols during World War Two, on the watch for German U-Boats. He presently lives in the Sunnybrook Residence for World War Two veterans, where he was interviewed by Crestwood students Andrew Spanton and Brandon Kleshch.
Frank Mendham was born in Toronto in 1924; like many his age he grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, dealing with the realities of day-to-day life. When the war came, Frank went into the cavalry, like his father before him. By the time of the Second World War, tanks had replaced horses. Frank spent time in England before heading over to France on D-Day; from Normandy, he and his regiment made their way through France and the Netherlands, into Germany.
We visited Frank at the Sunnybrook veterans’ Wing on February 27, 2014, where he was interviewed by Crestwood students Ahmed Izzeldin, Simon Yuan, and Jacob Gurdzy.
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.
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.
Bill Millhausen was born on January 10, 1918 in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan. He went to university, where he studied math and engineering and this led him on his World War Two path. He became an engineer who built bridges in the war. He was recruited by the head of CN rail, a World War 1 veteran. Bill’s brother joined the Winnipeg Rifles band and was later put into a mortar team. Bill was trained in Petawawa at one of the top engineer training centers and then sent to teach other people how build and demolish military items . After that he was sent on the Orion to Farnborough in England where he then traveled to various places in England and continued training. Bill was also sent to Italy, where he narrowly missed the battle of Ortona. He was then sent all over Italy building bridges, and rebuilding communities. After Italy he was sent to the Netherlands to be involved in its liberation.
We met Bill at Chartwell in September 2015, when he was interviewed for this project by Alexander McLeod, Will Paisly and Navid Sarshar.
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.
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.
When WW2 broke out, all Japanese-Canadians were labeled as enemy aliens were sent to the internment camps. Mr. Moritsuguand his brother were separated from his family; while Mr. Moritsugu’s family were sent to Tashme camp, he and his brother Ken were sent to Yard Creek Road. Despite the treatment accorded his family by their own government, Frank enlisted in the army and passed his training. He was sent to Bombay and Meerut in India and London for his translation- operations. Discriminations did not fade away even after he became a soldier. In India, he went to a swimming pool with his British soldier friends, but he was not allowed in – there was a sign which said ‘Only White people allowed’. Frank Moritsugu served honourably in intelligence work and was discharged after the war. He came to us via the Japanese-Canadian Cultural Centre, delivering a powerful message of tolerance for Crestwood students.
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.
Leon Moyen is a Korean War veteran who came from the small country of Luxembourg. He was born in 1930 and he enlisted in the army at the age of 16. When Leon first arrived in Korea, his main task was to do patrols. According to him, this job wasn’t always dangerous. Eventually he was given a different job – to act as a Double Crosser. This required crossing over enemy lines to do difficult commando operations. Leon saw intense combat during his time in Korea, and he was wounded on several occasions. After the war he chose to leave the military life and to focus on family, eventually emigrating to Canada. Leon visited us in November 2017, for Remembrance Day, when he was interviewed by a group of CHC2D students for this project.
George Myatt served in Canada’s merchant marine during WW2. As such, George was a crewman aboard a number of cargo vessels, and he visited many ports of call around the world, especially in Europe and Africa. George saw his share of danger working in this often neglected part of canada’s military force; one ship he was on was torpedoed, and he and two other crewmen were the only survivors. They were adrift on the Atlantic for three days before being rescued, and George was lucky to go on to a full recovery.
George was interviewed for this project by Crestwood student Nick Andreoli.
Jack Newman served in the Canadian Armed Forces during the war. After signing up, he was at Manning Depot at the Ex, followed by training at Brantford and Petawawa. He was assigned to the 4th Battery, 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment and shipped off to England. After time in Aldershot, he was sent with his regiment to Italy, where they battled their way up the Adriatic Coast, seeing action in Ortona. Attached to the British 8th Army, he found himself along the Americans at Anzio, where he participated in the Montecassino offensive. Finally, he was sent to the Netherlands to aid in the liberation of that country as the war concluded.
We met Jack at the Mount Dennis Legion in Toronto, where he was interviewed by Crestwood students Bryan Chung and Alex Ross.
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.
James Noddle was born over a bakery in the East End of Toronto to a poor large family. Growing up, he became particularly fond of trucks, and this interest continued on post-war. When the war began, he wasn’t too interested in it; however, soon he joined. His main duties in the war in Italy included working with tanks as part of a tank unit. Being in Italy was a totally new experience for him, since he met soldiers from different parts of the world as well as Italian girls. Unlike most veterans, he was lucky to avoid bloody battles, but he was an important member of the battle in Monte Cassino. Life in Toronto was completely different once he returned from the war as the city developed and new technologies such as the television came about. Having just turned 100, Mr. Noddle is a man with a lot of great and significant memories to share.
Crestwood students Izabella Osme and Akib Shahjahan interviewed Mr. Noddle at the Muir Retirement Residence in Newmarket in January 2015.
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.
Gerry O’Pray 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 Gerry was deployed in the Congo in the early 60s, where he was part of the Signals Corps, and in Gaza and the Suez in the mid-60s, during the period of Nasser’s presidency. Gerry did this interview with the Politics 12 class, where he told students about the context and the difficulties associated with the UN peacekeeping process.
Alejo Parucha fought against the Japanese Military Forces in World War II, under the United States Armed Forces in the Far East USAFFE. Captured at Bataan, he joined the Infamous Death March and was held as a Prisoner of War for 9 months, only released on December 25, 1942 as a Gift of Christmas. From there he was a Guerrilla G-2, captured by the Japanese Kempetie with Filipino collaborators two weeks after marrying Victoria. He was then imprisoned and tortured at Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya Japanese Garrison, from which he was able to escape. He then fought against the Forces of General Yamashita in Kiangan June, 1945 until Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, after which he was hospitalized due to fatigue for two weeks. After staying with his young wife and newborn daughter for two weeks, he reported to the Army for duty in 1945 and was honorably discharged on May 10, 1946. Alejo returned to his studies at Far Eastern University, took a job at the Philippine Veterans Board, and later transferred to the U.S. Veterans Administration. Many other government positions followed in an impressive career. Alejo came to Canada in 1979.
He was interviewed for this project by Crestwood students Nico Rondilla, Amanda Lee, and John Shahidi.
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.
Bill Peon served in the Canadian army during the Second World War. He was born in Toronto, where he grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression. With the coming of the war, he enlisted, and with basic training he was assigned to the Service Corps, designated as a truck driver. He spent additional time training for that role once the troopship brought him overseas to England. Bill crossed the Channel to France in the weeks after D-day, immediately putting his driving skills to the test in the chaos of the Battle of Normandy. It was his task to bring needed supplies of all kinds to the frontline troops, putting himself in the line of fire on a consistent basis. And with the confusing nature of the battlefield in the early days, Bill found himself behind enemy lines, and in one dangerous situation after another. Still, the supplies reached their destination, and Bill was right with the frontline forces on their path through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Bill even was involved in ferrying trucks to postwar Poland. When VE Day came, he returned to England, and then to Canada, ready to play his role in the postwar world.
Pham Cong Lien lives outside Hanoi, Vietnam, in a state-sponsored home for the veterans of what the Vietnamese call the “American War”. Mr. Pham turned eighteen and was conscripted by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) in 1967-68, just as the American involvement was reaching its apex. Forced to leave school and his family behind, he went through brief military training before he followed the Ho Chi Minh Trial to the southernmost point of Vietnam. After a brief period of combat, Mr. Pham was grievously wounded, the victim of a paralyzing back injury. He was transported back to the north, where his medical treatment began. With the North’s victory and the unification of Vietnam in 1974-75, Mr. Pham was moved to the veterans’ home, where he has resided ever since. The state has and facility have since looked after him and his family, and have found ways for him to make his contribution to the national cause.
In July 2017 Crestwood teacher Scott Masters took part in Alpha Education’s Peace and Reconciliation Tour. Seventeen educators, activists, lawyers, and documentarians toured China and Korea, learning about the Asian perspective on the Second World War, and exploring ways to raise awareness of this side of the war to a non-Asian audience. The tour was organized by Don Tow, as part of his ongoing efforts to stimulate social justice education and to improve Asian-American understanding and relationships. While overseas, Mr. Masters also visited Vietnam, where he was able to speak to Vietnamese people about the meaning of war in their recent national history. Mr. Masters was able to visit and interview Pham Cong Lien with the help of Footstep Travel, and the translation efforts of Le Nguyen Giap.
Please note that this interview is in Vietnamese, with the English translation at the end of each segment.
Major Mark Popov is an active member of Canada’s armed forces. He has served in Yugoslavia and has just completed his second tour in Afghanistan. He knows the region very well and has built a strong connection with his troops and the local community. As a Major he has to maintain a positive attitude to help the safety of his troops and in order to complete the mission at hand. We met Major Popov at a Remembrance Day event in November 2010, and he agreed to come to Crestwood to speak to Mr. Masters and Mr. Hawkins Grade 12 classes. The event was such a success that we invited him back to speak to the Grade 10 history classes in May 2011. In both cases he gave the students valuable insights into the reality facing current Canadian soldiers.
Mary Prescott was a CWAC during the war, reminding us of the many varied and important roles that Canadian women played during the years 1939-45. Mary was an entertainer, and as the war wound down, she sang and danced her way through Europe, keeping the troops entertained as they brought peace to the liberated nations of Europe.
We met Mary at Sunnybrook in May 2012, where she was interviewed for this project by Sam Downey and Eric Freedman.
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.
Harry Preston served in the Canadian army during World War Two. He grew up in western Canada, in and around Winnipeg, where Harry and his family experienced the realities of the Depression. Harry kept himself busy though, and with friends, he got involved in the militia and the Sea Cadets, where he was able to do training that would help him in the war to come. Harry joined the Winnipeg Rifles with the coming of the war, but when the opportunity to specialize in artillery came, Harry took it. He was trained as an anti-aircraft gunner, a process that intensified upon arrival in England. Harry was often stationed in vulnerable areas as England was repeatedly bombed in the 1942-44 period; he defended radar stations, airfields, and coastal zones. While in England, Harry – like so many young Canadian soldiers – met an Englishwoman and fell in love, later marrying this Land Army worker and bringing her to Canada. First, Harry endured the European campaign. He was sent to France after D-Day, and now a member of a self-propelled gun crew, he and his team provided support to the advancing Canadian infantry as they moved through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and into Germany itself. With VE Day, Harry returned to England and once his wife was cleared for passage to Canada, they made the trip together, settling and building a life for themselves in the postwar period.
Joan Preston was born in London, England. She was a tap dancer since she was very little. Joan now is 94. During the war, she spent 5 and a half years in the WAAF, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. This was from 1941-1946, during which time she worked for Bomber Command in England and Sri Lanka. Joan is a very happy person who loves to learn. Joan was interviewed in her room at Sunnybrook on January 30, 2018.
Mel Prideaux was born in Regina, Saskatchewan. He grew up during the Great Depression, and had to face many challenges that an average family had to face. He enlisted in the army with a couple friends before they were to go to university , but Mel was encouraged to become a training officer instead of going overseas with them. After the war he went to Queen’s university and got a degree. He then became a teacher and taught mostly English and history. After teaching for several years he was promoted and eventually became an inspector. Mel Prideaux was interviewed at Sunnybrook by Anthony Radford-Grant, Yuka Fan, Alex Wang, and Bora Kutun on September 22nd, 2017.
George Procto served in Canada’s military in the years after World War Two, the “Golden Age” of peacekeeping and diplomacy. George hails from rural New Brunswick, and as he recalls, he was anxious to leave the farm and school. The military represented a different life, so he enlisted and began his travels across Canada, from Quebec to British Columbia to Quebec, and back to New Brunswick. George served as a crew chief, manning the radar stations and air installations across the country. He also did an overseas stint in Germany. George retired and ended up in Deseronto, Ontario, where he was interviewed courtesy of the Legion by Scott Masters in July 2018.
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.
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 convoys 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. In 2017, after one of his many Sunnybrook volunteer mornings, Jack visited us again, when Julian Silver, Steven Ren and Alex Wang took the lead in interviewing him.
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.
John (Jack) Rhind served in the Canadian Forces in the Second World War. John grew up in the Rosedale neighbourhood of Toronto, pursuing his degree in finance when the war came along. John opted to go into artillery, and as an officer he assumed his command. After training stints in Canada and England, John’s regiment was shipped to the Mediterranean, where they landed in Sicily, and then Italy itself. And here John’s war really began, as he was involved in key battles at Ortona and Montecassino. When the war concluded, John made his way back to Toronto, where he married, raised a family, and pursued a career.
John visited us at Crestwood in December 2013, where he was interviewed by Zach Brown, Hunter Kell, Savannah Yutman and Luca Lettieri.
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.
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.
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.
John Rowe was born in 1925 in Toronto, and he grew up in the city’s east end, in the Beach. John shared with us his memories of interwar Toronto, and what it was like growing up against the backdrop of the Great Depression. He remembered it as a time when everyone was the same, not knowing that they had nothing. In spite of the tough times and family’s financial situation, John had fond memories of the time, playing baseball with his friends and hanging out at Balmy Beach. When the war came, John said the rationing had some impacts on his family, but overall the expectation of sacrifice was there, and people largely complied with C.D. Howe’s regimen. When he turned 18, it was John’s time to register and join up, which he elected to do rather than chancing conscription. A family friend helped him to join the Armoured Corps, and he began his year in the army in October 1944. Quickly stricken down by a bout of appendicitis, his tank training was delayed, and by the time the spring of 1945 came around, the war was winding down. John was discharged, and he began to look for work, and to adjust to life in now postwar Toronto.
John was interviewed at his home by Scott Masters in December 2017.
A South African Jew, Mr. Leonard Rubinstein volunteered to fight with the British 8th Army the “Desert Rats” in WW2. After seeing action in Bardia, he was captured and spent the remainder of the war in Axis POW camps, where he was fortunate to keep his religious identity secret from the Gestapo. Mr. Rubinstein came to Crestwood to speak to students, was very happy to be involved in this video project and was interviewed on two occasions in his home by Mr. Masters’ students.
June Rudd was born in Northumberland, England and raised in Manchester in 1924. June shares her story of wartime life in England, including evacuations, air raid shelters and rationing. Like many young British women, June contributed directly to the war effort by serving as a WREN, or member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service, beginning in 1943. June’s service focused mainly on coding messages for Naval communication. Her coding work would assist with the planning of Operation Overlord. In the months after D-Day, June would follow the Allies through liberated Europe.
June’s story sheds light on the integral role played by the WRENS in World War 2. She spoke with Grade 9 student Natalie Mercer in 2014.
Gunter Sander grew up in Germany in the 1930s. Like virtually all German teenagers of the time he joined the Hitler Youth and later became a part of the national work force. When he was brought into the military, he was initially sent to guard islands off the coast of the Netherlands, against a potential invasion by sea. From there he was able to enlist in the Luftwaffe, and training became a big part of his life in the middle war years. But young man that he was, Gunter did not follow all the rules, and a fly-over of his home town did not sit well with his commanding officer, and Gunter was sent to jail and dismissed from the Luftwaffe. He was later released into the infantry and sent to the western front, where he was taken as a POW by British and American forces and sent to a prison camp. There his longtime love of music came to the fore, and this became a key part of the life he would eventually pursue.
Gunter was interviewed for this project by a group of senior history students in January 2012.
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.
Chuck Sanford was in the USAAF in World War Two. A B-17 pilot, he trained all across the United States before being shipped to Europe. Stationed in England, he flew a number of missions before an injury sent him back to the US. The army kept him on for period, using him to look at new mission uses for the B-17 in the Biloxi area.
Chuck was interviewed at his home in Portland, Maine by Scott Masters.
L Cdr Bill Sanson is a member of the present-day Canadian Forces, serving in the Canadian Navy, where he helps to respond to the many crises where intervention is necessary. As L Cdr Sanson notes, Canada is a maritime nation, and the nature of the interconnected maritime world makes the Canadian Navy very relevant, from the Arctic to the Caribbean and beyond. L Cdr Sanson has participated in missions protecting Canada’s Arctic sovereignty, and he has taken part in anti-drug initiatives like Operation Caribbe in the south seas. Other missions include the NATO-run Operation Reassurance in eastern Europe, and Operation Artemis, a naval initiative which was part of Canada’s response to the war on terror. L Cdr Sanson is proud of his naval journey, and we were proud to host him and the other Canadian Forces officers who visited us courtesy of the CFC in April 2017.
Born into a military family, Charles Scot-Brown said there was never a doubt about his enlistment. After growing up during the Depression, Charles joined the army and was trained as an infantryman. He was sent overseas to England and went across the Channel on June 6, 1944, as part of the second wave of Allied landings on D-Day. He and his men had been trained to take a radar station, and Charles completed this mission successfully, going on to further distinction in the Battle of Normandy. Eventually a wound took him out of commission, but only briefly as he returned to the field in an airborne regiment during Operation Market Garden. When the battle faltered, Charles was fortunate to escape to the Allied lines, avoiding becoming a POW. Charles is dedicated to the educational efforts of Historica Dominion and the Royal Canadian Military Institute, and we thank them for their part in bringing him to Crestwood.
Charles visited Crestwood twice in February 2012, where he was interviewed for this project by students in the Grade 10 history class. We were honoured to visit him at the RCMI in October 2017, when he was interviewed by Arielle Meyer, Justin Soberman, Armin Selzner, Ammar Prabhakar, and Spencer Whitnall.
Al Scott grew up in 1930s Britain. He joined the Home Guard, and he remembers them having no weapons, so they inserted the WW1 Ross Rifle bayonets into gas pipes. Al was called up to enlist in 1942 and went to the infantry depot and spent eight months there, until he was posted to a regiment. He ended up joining his father’s WW1 regiment. From there he saw action on a number of fronts, and he went ashore in the first wave at Sword Beach on June 6, 1944. We met Al through the RCL, and he spoke to Crestwood students in early 2011.
Jim Shontaler was born in the Canadian west, growing up in the difficult days of the Great Depression. As there were some family problems, Jim spent many of his early years in an orphanage. With the war underway and with no firm direction before him, he joined up as soon as he was able, heading off to training and then overseas. Jim headed first to north Africa and Italy, to begin his “baptism under fire”. He were in the thick of it, right away, fighting through the defensive lines in Italy, where he was wounded. From there his unit was shipped north, and they participated in the liberation of France, Belgium, and especially the Netherlands, where Jim had many good experiencess. Jim’s memories of those times are clear, and his stories are ideal for Canadians looking to find insights in the minds of young Canadian men in the 1940s.
We met Jim in his room at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing, where he was interviewed for this project in April 2015.
Norm Short served in the Canadian Army during the Second World War. Born in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland, the young Norm moved to Quebec along with his family when they settled in Shawinigan Falls. When the war came, Norm joined up in Montreal, as part of the Essex Scottish Regiment. he completed his basic training and waited until his 19th birthday, when he was sent overseas. In England he was trained as a motorcycle dispatch rider. After D-Day, Norm headed across the Channel on D+5, and he was called to duty as the Battle of Caen was raging. Norm took part in the terrible Battle of Carpiquet, a costly Canadian victory before the Falaise Gap and the collapse of the German army in France. Norm and his fellow soldiers moved across northern Europe, liberating towns and civilians and enjoying the fruits of their labours. With VE Day, Norm headed back to England, and then Canada, settling into the postwar rhythm of life in Toronto.
We met Norm in the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in December 2017, when he was interviewed by a delegation of Crestwood students over the December Break.
John Slater was born in Toronto in 1922. He grew up during the Great Depression, and his father had to take care of the family. Mr. Slater didn’t enlist in the war at first; he was asked to join. When he was in Europe he made some friends in Scotland and Britain. Mr. Slater and his colleagues were always listening to the radio. In the army Mr. Slater was in the Signals corps and was in charge of helping the planes find their targets.
When the war was over Mr. Slater came back to Canada, where he built his life. He currently resides in Sunnybrook Hospital, where he was interviewed by Crestwood students David Dennis and Lindsey Swartzman.
Larry Smalls was born in Toronto in 1921. He grew up in the neighbourhoods of the city’s downtown core, against the backdrop of the Great Depression. The son of Jewish immigrants, Larry had to leave school when he was 14, when he went to work to help support his family. He worked as a newsboy, a delivery boy, and eventually secured a job at Tip Top tailors. He also joined the militia in his teens, and he would join his unit for military training throughout the 1930s. When the war came, Larry joined the Governor-General’s Horse Guard, which by this time had become a motorized regiment. After initial training he went overseas to England, where he worked in the second echelon, organizing mail delivery and doing other administrative duties. When shipped to Italy with the regiment, Larry continued in those duties, and serving as a truck driver, delivering ammunition, gasoline, and water to the front line troops. With the war’s end, Larry found himself back in England, where he met his future wife. She accompanied him back to Canada, and the two of them began their live together in postwar Toronto.
Doug Smith 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 Doug was deployed in the Suez in the late 50s, during the period of Nasser’s presidency. As such Doug followed the actions of the initial UN peacekeeping force, helping to consolidate Canada’s role in this area. Doug 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 the Legion Branch 11, courtesy of Helen Pearce. The interview was developed by the Grade 9 Tech classes during the 2015-16 school year.
Mike Smith was born in the USSR, in the former republic of Belarus. He grew up near Pinsk, in a traditional Jewish family. When the war came to the USSR in 1941, he joined the Soviet Red Army, where he became a member of the Scouts’ Brigade. Doing some of the most dangerous work behind enemy lines, he and his platoon fought in a succession of battles on the eastern front, all the way to Berlin. Mike then was working in a DP camp, where he helped to smuggle Holocaust Survivors to destinations in the west. Seeing his opportunity, he defected and went to the west himself, eventually making his way to Canada. He initially settled in the north, working as a lumberjack in Kapuskasing, Ontario and in the mills in Rouyn and Sudbury. Fate took him to Toronto, and a career in sales followed, as Mike established himself in the community.
Russell Smith was born in 1919 in Toronto, and he grew up in Toronto during the interwar years. Russell remembers well the difficulties of those Great Depression years, especially as he grew up in a family of eleven children, and his single mother needed all the help she could get. The third eldest, Russell left school early on; the family needed any and all income, and Russell worked where he could – as a delivery boy, an apprentice bookbinder, whatever it took…With money tight, Russell remembers that he and his siblings did what they could to have fun, but for him it was about his bicycle, which was his transportation as well as a source of enjoyment. Looking for something to occupy his time, Russell enlisted in the militia, and went into the interwar cavalry – he loved the horses and grew to love the discipline and mission that the military life brought to him. With the coming of the war – an event that Russell and the other militiamen knew was on the way – Russell went into the army proper, where he excelled in the different facets of army life. He was such a good soldier that the army made him a drill instructor, and in this capacity he helped to train Canada’s fighting men for that conflict. Russell rose through the ranks during his time at Camp Borden, and he continued this during his time at Aldershot, the site of Canada’s overseas encampment in Britain. Russell recalled the training and personalities in great depth, as recounted in this discussion.
Russell Smith was referred to us via the Memory Project, and he joins the ranks of the many collaborative ventures that we have done with that organization over the years. Russell was interviewed for this project in May 2018, when Scott Masters visited him at his home in Oshawa.
Crestwood has been fortunate to visit the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing many times since we started our partnershipin 2008. Many Sunnybrook veterans have shared their impressions of the war and of the surrounding period. None has been able to do more effectively than Ted Smith, who we met in May 2012. Ted was a pilot in World War Two, and he is a gifted storyteller with an incredible memory for those slices of life we endeavour to find. Ted also kept a slew of his WW2 memorabilia, including a photo album that literally chronicles his life all through the war years. There was so much to say that we had to go back to see Ted a second time!
Ted was interviewed for this project by Michael Lawee and Zach Brown, with Antony Cook coming along on the second trip.
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.
Victor Squigna hails from the west end of Toronto, where he grew up in the interwar years. Victor recalls that conditions in the Great Depression were not too bad for his family; he in fact had a car, and worked at the local gas station. When his 18th birthday came in 1942, Victor made his military preparations and he found himself on the Exhibition Grounds in the Horse Palace, along with many others. But Victor experienced a mishap as he was going through the army physical. His eardrum was punctured and attempts to treat it by the medical personnel only worsened the situation. Victor was sent to the hospital at Chorley Park, deemed unfit for military service. As he recovered, Victor was repurposed by the army, and he helped with incoming recruits and lived his life in wartime Toronto.
We met Victor in the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in December 2018, where he was interviewed by a group of Crestwood students.
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.
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.
Bill Talbot grew up against the backdrop of 1930s Toronto. When his father, a World War One veteran, passed away, Bill dropped out of school to help his mother make ends meet. When the war came along, Bill enlisted, eventually finding his way into the First Canadian Parachute Regiment. Training took place in both the U.S. and Canada, and Bill was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, in addition to other camps. He made his way overseas and began to prepare for the inevitability of D-Day. Bill was among the first Canadians into France, on the night of June 5-6. His Battle of Normandy lashed for about one month, when a sniper’s bullet ended the war for him.
Bill came to us with Jack Reid; both men were interviewed in October 2013, with Bill sitting down with Liam Mayer, Nick Mennell, Antony Cook and Zach Brown.
- 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.
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.
Emma van Taack lived in Holland when the war broke out. She witnessed the German assault on Rotterdam and lived through the occupation. Becoming a teenager during the war, Emma joined a Dutch resistance cell, where she actively fought against the German forces. She assisted Allied soldiers, acted as a messenger, and risked her life numerous times throughout the war.
She visited Crestwood in February 2009, where she was interviewed by students Michael Armel and Dallas Barrs.
Jean Van Wart presently lives at Sunnybrook, where she was interviewed by Charlie Nogas, Gabe Hirson, and Jacob Hanning, in her room in the Veterans’ Wing in February 2017. Jean was born in Quebec, and when the war came around she was attending Carleton University in Ottawa. Like many women in her day, she enlisted in the CWACs, choosing to make her contribution. After training, Jean was deployed overseas to England, where she was a driver and mechanic. Like the men, she was exposed to dangers, especially the Buzz Bomb threat at war’s end. Jean met her husband in England, and has many other fond memories of her time there. After the war the two returned to Canada to raise a family in postwar Toronto.
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.
Mike Vencel served in the Canadian Navy during the Cold War era. He joined up in the 1950s, fresh out of high school in southern Ontario, with the goal of pursuing a trade. Mike set his sights on becoming an electrician’s mate, and he served in this capacity on several ships, notably the HMCS Assiniboine and the HMCS Crescent. During his time in the service, Mike saw Canada and much of the world, seeing the extremes of the Arctic and the heat of the tropics. He also saw the tensions of the Cold War ignite in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and he saw the last vestiges of royalty when Queen Elizabeth visited Canada on the Brittania for the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Mike recalls his time in the navy with fondness – even the episode on the life rafts which he recounts here.
Mike visited us at Crestwood in April 2018, along with Ron Kirk and Andy Barber, whose stories can also be found in this project. Scott Masters did a follow up visit with them in August 2018, interviewing them at the Halton Naval Veterans Club in Burlington.
Evgeny Voitinsky served in the Red Army in the Great Patriotic War. Evgeny grew up in Leningrad before the war, but after the German invasion of June 1941, Evgeny and his mother relocated to Kazakstan, where the teenaged Evgeny adapted to the new realities of wartime life. He worked at this time in a factory, producing weapons for the Red Army and awaiting his own time in the service, all the while watching the tide of the battle turn as the Red Army scored major victories at Stalingrad and Kursk. It was at this time when Evgeny reported for duty, assigned to the engineering battalions that were tasked with the difficult job of opening the offensive against the Germans. Evgeny became a sapper, and his job was to detect and to remove the mines, clearing the way for the reconnaissance units and the eventual Soviet advance. He was trained for this specialized duty along with the canines whose job it was to find the mines. When their time came, Evgeny’s unit was sent to the Latvian front, where they participated in the Battle for Riga and the Battle of the Courland Pocket. Evgeny remembers that most of the dogs ran away when exposed to the sounds of battle, so the soldiers were on their own. And Evgeny’s own time on the battlefield ended up being brief; as he and two other soldiers were helping a wounded comrade from the battlefield, one of the soldiers in front stepped on a mine, and while the other three were killed, Evgeny was seriously wounded, losing an eye and suffering a neck laceration. For this he was awarded the Order of the Red Star. The rest of his war would be spent in a series of hospitals, where his wounds were patched up and cosmetic procedures done. With the end of the war, Evgeny went to university, preparing for a career in the sciences, where he had considerable success as a neurobiologist. He came to Canada in the early 2000s.
We met Evgeny in August 2018, when he was interviewed by Scott Masters in his home in Oakville. We would like to thank Evgeny’s wife Julia, who helped in the translation, as well as Tatiana and Yuriy from the Russian House, who helped to coordinate this meeting.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS INTERVIEW WAS COMPLETED IN BOTH RUSSIAN AND ENGLISH.
Евгений Войтинский служил в Красной Армии во время Великой Отечественной войны. До войны он жил в Ленинграде, но после немецкого вторжения в июне 1941 года Евгений и его мать переехали в Казахстан, где подростоку Евгению нужно было приспосабливаться к новым реалиям военной жизни. Он работал в это время на заводе, производя оружие для Красной Армии и ожидая своего времени призыва в армию, в то время когда Красная Армия одерживала крупные победы в Сталинграде и Курске. Именно в это время Евгений был призван на службу в инженерный батальон, которому было поручено трудное задание разминирования для наступательной операции против немцев . Евгений стал сапером, и его задача состояла в том, чтобы обнаруживать и удалять мины, расчищать путь для разведывательных подразделений и предстоящего советского наступления. Он обучался этой специализированной службе вместе с собаками, чья работа заключалась в том, чтобы искать мины. Когда настало время, подразделение Евгения было отправлено на латвийский фронт, где они участвовали в битве за Ригу и битве за Курляндский Котел. Евгений вспоминает, что большинство собак сбежали, когда они услышали звуки битвы, поэтому солдатам пришлось разминировать самим. И время Евгения на передовой оказалось относительно кратким. Он и два других солдата помогали вынести с поля боя раненого офицера, один из солдат впереди наступил на мину, а в то время как двое были убиты, Евгений был тяжело ранен, потерял один глаз и был тяжело ранен в шею. Он был награжден орденом Красной Звезды. Остальная часть войны была проведена в госпиталях, где его раны были залечены и сделан ряд косметических операций. По окончании войны Евгений поступил в университет, готовился к карьере в области наук, где имел значительный успех в качестве нейробиолога. Он приехал в Канаду в начале 2000-х годов.
Мы познакомились с Евгением в августе 2018 года, когда Скотт Мастер провел интервью в его доме в Оквилле. Мы хотели бы поблагодарить жену Евгения Юлию, которая помогала в переводе, а также Татьяну и Юрия из Русского дома, которые помогли организовать эту встречу.
John Waddell served in the RCN as WW2 came to a close. His overseas duty came late in the war, so John was fortunate to avoid combat and the dangerous convoys that made up so much RCN duty. He was able to see many places though, literally going around the world and visiting the ports of Malta, Gibraltar, the Suez, and Hong Kong to name a few. John as interviewed for this project by Alex Stevenson in December 2009, and again in 2017 when Dean Sun, Ashleigh Lindayan, and David Huang visited him at Sunnybrook.
Karl Wagar served in the Canadian Forces during the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. Karl hails from the town of Deseronto, in Prince Edward County; he enlisted at the suggestion of a veteran he met at the local Legion, recalling that the decision set him on a better life path. He boarded that jet airplane at the age of 24, so he was a few years older than many of the recruits, but he excelled at basic training and enjoyed the opportunities that the Forces brought his way, notably the Safety Systems trade that he pursued. Karl’s most important role in this capacity was to prepare the pilots, dealing with flight suits and other issues that the pilots might encounter. Karl served on a number of bases in Canada, and his time in the Forces also included an overseas posting in Germany, where he happened to be stationed when the Berlin Wall came down. Karl was also there when Operation Desert Storm began, and he was transferred to Qatar during that conflict, where he was role was to prepare the CF-18 pilots and planes for their sorties. From those overseas postings, Karl returned to Canada, where most of the rest of his time in the Forces was spent in Trenton, where he and a team worked on oxygen regulators and other elements of the safety systems protocol, earning an award for their efforts.
Karl was interviewed for this project in July 2018, when Scott Masters met him at the Deseronto Legion, who we thank for helping us to coordinate this interview.
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.
Jim Warford was in the Canadian army during World War Two. Born in England in 1922, Jim grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, against the backdrop of the Great Depression, attending school and very active in sports. Jim and a friend joined the militia before the war, knowing that war was on the way. When his friend opted for the navy, Jim decided that the army was the life for him, and he settled on the Canadian Service Corps, where he became a sergeant in charge of the ammunition convoys that kept the troops on the front lines supplied. Jim went overseas in 1943, and spent time in England before being sent across the English Channel a few days after D-Day. Once in France, Jim was active in the Battle for Normandy, and he followed the front line troops into Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany itself. With VE Day, members of the Canadian Service Corpos stayed in the Netherlands for a time, feeding the starving population and keeping the Army of Occupation supplied. Jim went home in 1946, reconnecting with his wife of one week, and settling in Hamilton, where they settled into the rhythm of civilian life and did their part in postwar Canada.
We met Jim in Burlington in August 2018, where he was interviewed by Scott Masters in his home. We would like to thank Bob Ankrett and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 60 for their part in helping to facilitate this interview.
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.
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.
Arthur Weiss was born in Philadelphia in 1925. Growing up against the backdrop of war, Arthur was singled out by the military for his mathematical prowess. The military was grooming him for a role in the Manhattan Project, but as Arthur recalls, there was a surfeit of physicists by 1945, and with the war winding down, the army sent him to medical school, where his interests eventually took him in the direction of oncology. Given his talents and the winding down of the war, Arthur did not see active service in World War Two. He would in fact play a greater role in the emerging Cold War, where the nuclear threat and his specialization in oncology would find a common ground. Arthur spent a number of years in the Office of Naval Research, where he was involved in looking at radiation levels in nuclear submarines, and in helping the military in some of the scenarios being developed for possible nuclear conflict. When Arthur left the military, he remained connected to the public sector, involved in research in the emerging and dynamic field of oncology and medical research.
Arthur Weiss presently lives in Falmouth, Maine, where he was interviewed for this project in Agust 2015 by Scott Masters.
We met Tom courtesy of the 48th Highlanders and Al Kowalenko, and Scott Masters interviewed Tom in his home in September 2018.
Jim Willcocks celebrated his 100th birthday not too long ago, and an article in his local Orillia newspaper notes, he still likes to go out dancing. We met Jim courtesy of the Royal Canadian Legion in Orillia, and Scott Masters interviewed Jim in July 2018. Jim Second World War service took place in Canada, as Jim had valuable skills that the military and government deemed necessary for the home front: Jim was an automobile mechanic, and it was determined that he could best serve by using those skills in the proving grounds near Ottawa. Jim’s task was to test out tanks and trucks, and whatever else came his way, to make sure it worked properly before going overseas. When a problem was found, such a tank’s gyroscope’s engine overheating, Jim diagnosed the problem and dealt with it in Canada, before it became an issue for the fighting men overseas. Jim had been on parade and expected to go overseas; it was only at the last moment that his trade was identified and he was held back, something that sat well with Jim, as he had a young wife and three young children by 1941. So the family was moved to Ottawa, and that is where Jim spent the war years. When the war concluded, he was able to get his job back, and he and his young family returned to Toronto, where they fell into the rhythm of civilian life and played their part in our postwar history.
Don Williams served in the Canadian army during the Korean War. He grew up against the backdrop of the Second World War, experiencing the ups-and-downs alongside fellow Canadians during that changing time. As the Cold War escalated, he enlisted for his own war, and with basic training he was assigned to the PPCLI, designated as an infantryman. He and his regiment made their way to Korea as part of the United Nations contingent, ready to play their role in the fight against global communism. They found themselves fighting as part of a multinational force, working to hold back the North Koreans and Chinese. Bill saw action on the front, experiencing the harsh reality of combat. When the truce came in 1953, he returned to Canada, ready to play his role as the “Fabulous 50s” took hold of North America. Many years later, Bill worked to commemorate the Korean War, and he was instrumental in the building of a memorial wall in Brampton, Ontario.
Lorne Winer first visited Crestwood in February 2012, at the age of 95. He sat down with Canadian History 10 students Maxime Bernier and Nathan George, and told them about his life both before and after the war. Lorne grew up in Toronto, where he remembered life in the Ward during the depths of Depression. He enlisted shortly after the war broke out; after training and an overseas journey that he characterized as utterly miserable, he ended up in England, where he prepared for the D-Day landings. Once the regiment crossed the Channel, Lorne fought his way through Normandy, and into Belgium and the Netherlands, where he had fond memories of the Dutch people. In May 2015, Lorne was featured in a Toronto Star article on the Oral History Project Breakfast, and Mr. Masters did a follow-up interview with him, which is featured here, along with footage from class presentations that were delivered in January 2016 and February 2017, shortly after Lorne had turned 99. Lorne brought many personal insights and stories to this interview, and we thank Historica Dominion for their part in bringing him to Crestwood.
Anne Wood was born in Langford, Ireland; she married John Wood, aCanadian bomber pilot and together they had four children. Anne voluntarily entered the war, not to fight, but to be of help and to defend her country. She entered with one of her best friends, who became a nurse. Anne wanted to be more involved, so she became a motor transport driver. She presently lives in the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing, where she spoke with Caroline Murphy in November 2008.
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.
Mr. Minoru Yatabe served in Canada’s armed forces during WW2, while his family and other Japanese-Canadians were battling racism and internment on Canada’s home front. Mr. Yatabe originally was from British Columbia, but he was sent to Ontario for the early part of the war, where he worked on a farm. When he turned 18, he enlisted and was trained for service in the Pacific. He was attached to an intelligence unit, whose task was to interview Japanese POWs as the war reached its conclusion.
He was interviewed for this project Feb. 2009 by Crestwood students Sean Lee and Josh Stern. In May 2016 Min visited us again, this time sitting down with students from the History 12 class.
Michael Zarembo is a Lithuanian Jew, one of so many overwhelmed with the terrible events that befell his people and region during the war. 1941 saw the initiation of that horror…Germany initiated Operation Barbarossa, and within days Michael’s family was under the heel of the Nazi regime. Life became increasingly difficult in the ghettos that were created, as Jewish families struggled to survive. A mere teenager, Michael joined the Red Army, and he managed to survive several intense years of warfare, fighting as a member of a Jewish brigade charged with the liberation of Lithuania. The Nazis and Lithuanian collaborators they were up against had nothing to lose, so the combat was intense. Michael recalled their attempted flight over the Baltic Sea, and of the Soviet female fighter pilots who hunted them down. Wounded in battle, Michael ended up in the hospital, and that is where the war came to an end, in a celebration Michael said he will remember forever. He survived the war and the Shoah, and contributions on the battlefield helped to end both of those dark chapters. He began to rebuild his life, a journey that would eventually take him to Canada.
Michael Zarembo was interviewed at his home in July 2017, by Crestwood teacher Scott Masters. The interview was set up courtesy of the Jewish War Veterans Association of Toronto, with special thanks to Anna Mordukhovich and her daughter Dorina.
Please note that this interview is in Russian, with English overdubs and translations.
Pieter Zuber 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 Pieter was deployed in the Suez in the late 50s, during the period of Nasser’s presidency. As such he followed the actions of the initial UN peacekeeping force, helping to consolidate Canada’s role in this area. Pieter 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 the Legion Branch 11, courtesy of Helen Pearce. The interview was developed by the Grade 9 Tech classes during the 2015-16 school year.