A teen who changed his last name so he could enlist. A final goodbye between a father and son bridging the two world wars. A pilot who crashed in the Channel and lived to tell the King about it.
These are just some of the family stories sent in by HuffPost Canada readers for Remembrance Day.
Lest we forget.
From Nancy McClure
My grandfather Ivan McClure (on the left) developed tuberculosis after being gassed in the trenches at Ypres during WWI. He spent the majority of the rest of his life in a sanatorium; as did many of those who had been exposed to the chlorine gas. When I think of Remembrance Day, I think of this excerpt from my Dad’s memoir: "One Rung At A Time". I think of my dad Don McClure (on the right) in his youth, heading into WWII as he sees his father for the last time. My father was returning by train from basic training at Camp Borden in Ontario to Moncton, N.B.. I can see in my mind's eye the image of my Dad as a young soldier in uniform standing at the deathbed of his father, who will soon die from his injuries suffered during the last war.
“On the train ride home from Montreal I got permission from my Commanding Officer to leave the train and take a taxi to the hospital to see Dad. He had no inkling that I was going to be there and I know that it was a glimpse of sunshine for him on an otherwise cloudy day. I only stayed for a half hour as it had taken time to get to the hospital and it would take an equal amount of time to get back to the train. After I kissed Dad goodbye, I turned my back on him and walked away. I have often wished I had turned and waved but the scene was getting too emotional for me to handle, compounded by a foreboding that this was a final farewell.”
So on Remembrance Day I wear my poppy in honour of all who served, who serve today and who will serve.
From Krista Akre Kellock
This is my grandfather Beverly Glay Evans. In this picture he was leaving for war, just a kid at 17. He lied about his age to join. He was in the Winnipeg Rifles and landed on Normandy on D-Day. He lost his eye that day. He had shrapnel in most of his body. He lost his hearing in one ear and they said he might never use his hand again. Still, he was one of the lucky ones.
His stories about the war were chilling accounts and heartbreaking. He wasn't one to talk about what he had seen very often.
He overcame many obstacles in his life; he became a successful contractor and settled down with my grandmother. They were married for more than 60 years and lived the last 35 years in Sundre, Alta. We lost my grandpa this year but we will never forget what he did for our country.
Our family is so very proud of you grandpa and we miss you.
From Cynthia Elias
My grandfather Mikhail was Ukrainian, born in the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1896. He emigrated to Canada as a baby. When the First World War began in 1914, just shy of his 18th birthday, he tried to join up and was informed that the army would not accept Ukrainians because they were the enemy and were being interned in camps, not admitted to the Canadian army.
Someone at the recruiting office took him aside and said "Look, go home. Change the SKY at the end of your name to SKI. Come back next week and tell them you’re Polish.” He did that. Slevinsky became Slevinski, Ukrainian became Polish and my grandfather was admitted to the army.
His efforts were dashed to hell because once his father found out about his enlistment he went to the recruiting office and explained that his son had lied about his age and was not old enough to join up. A deal was struck with the army and my great grandfather went to WWI in his son’s stead. When WWII started my grandfather again went to the recruiting office and signed up. With no obstacles in his way he was finally allowed to fight for the country he loved. His photo is below.
From Ken Sudhues
This is my father, Sgt. Ed Sudhues, in about 1944. He was born in Germany in 1909 and came to Canada on the “Volendam" in 1926 (age 17). He made a conscious effort to live with people who only spoke English in order to learn it properly -- and he spoke it very well, with no accent.
In 1939, he volunteered here in Victoria, B.C., and ended up in the (I believe) 1st Field Engineers. He fought in the Sicilian campaign in 1943, up through Italy in 1944 (including Monte Casino), and finally in Holland in 1945. After VE Day, he was asked to stay on to act as an interpreter, dealing with captured German officers. He stayed on, even after VJ Day and was then asked if he would remain as an interpreter for the Nuremberg Trials. He declined and was finally de-mobbed in time to be home for Christmas 1945.
The man who came home from the war was not the one who enlisted. The man who came home had become a violent alcoholic, quick to take offence and to hold grudges. The war, what he’d had to do, and what he’d seen in it, destroyed him. Now we’d say he had PTSD and he would have had access to some help, but back then there was none, so the damage was kept sealed up and the pain and hurt went on and on, for him and the family. He was my father, but he was never a man I could love or even like. And THAT is why I never wear a poppy for Remembrance Day.
From Joyce Dubuc
This is William Russel Sloan, From Kelowna, B.C. He was an RCAF Navigator with the "Bluenose Squadron". He was shot down over Berlin in January of 1944.
From Janis Conrad
This is my grandpa, Howard Conrad. He was in the Highland Light Infantry in WWII. He passed away Jan. 31, 2014 in his 96th year.
From Bobbi-Lynn Sloan
These are photos of my grandfather Fernand Binette and his medals. He fought in Italy, France and Germany in WWII. He was only 19 when he joined. He came home to Ottawa at the end of the war, where he went on to marry and father five children. He died at age 56 of lung cancer.
From Irene Richard
My grandfather Edmond Felix Richard signed up on April 23, 1915 in Chatham, N.B.. He fought on the western front in France and Belgium. He was a Private, a Sapper with the 26th Battalion, 5th Brigade, and 2nd Division Canadian Expeditionary Force C.E.F
During the war he became ill with jaundice, influenza and a severe throat abscess, Nevertheless, he managed to serve 33 and a half months (minus sick time) in World War 1 with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
He left England April 1, 1919 and married my grandmother Marie Anne Johnson that following January in 1920. He settled in Rogersville, N.B.
I never met this incredible person. My grandfather Richard passed in 1958, before my time.
From Sean Siddals
This is my granddad, Arthur Edmond Siddals. He landed in Normandy on D-Day and served as a motorcycle messenger. He fought in France, the Netherlands and through to Germany.
He currently lives by himself on Vancouver Island. Our family is very proud of his military service and the sacrifices he made for our freedom. He was even selected to return to Normandy in 1994 and did so with many other Canadian veterans.
From Melanie Ormston and Mark Pereira
Ian Ormston had an adventurous spirit, joining the Royal Canadian Air Force at the age of 19. He went on to become one of the youngest commanding officers in the air force (No. 411 Squadron). Ian flew over the English Channel more than 200 times during the Second World War and crashed into the cold waters once. The Spitfire aircraft he had named Marguerite, after his fiancé, had sprung a coolant leak, which meant imminent engine failure. With only a split second to react, the then 22-year-old pilot calculated the optimum speed to allow the heavy aircraft a soft glide toward the relative safety of the Channel, where he at least had a chance of eventual rescue. His heroics during the war resulted in him being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross from King George VI at Buckingham Palace. Ian often commented that the king was not an easy man to make conversation with. Ian returned to Canada in 1943 in a body cast and later married Marguerite Lang.
From Shelley Skrepnek
My father, Clark Millaire, served in the Governor General's Foot Guards, a tank regiment, in WWII and saw action in France, Belgium, and Holland. When he returned home, he joined the Ontario Provincial Police. He never talked about his war experiences.
From Cheryl Harrington
My Dad (centre) & his brothers in WWII. I'm grateful for their service and that all three came home.
From Emma Prestwich
This is my dad, David Prestwich (right) with my grandfather, Arthur Prestwich (left). My dad served in the army and navy for 27 years as a medic and was deployed to Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War with the 1 Canadian Field Hospital. His military career took him all over the world, from Lahr, Germany to Okinawa Island in Japan.
From Phoenix Sky
To my fondest brother Robert LeBlanc, my rock, my sole help when I needed it. I lost my closest confidant. My family has never got along and no one talks to each other ... It's sad but fact ... but he was always there for me. From giving me a place to live when I was almost homeless to just being a shoulder to cry on. We were the only ones who kept in contact and gave each other support. He was always there for me.
He did not die in Afghanistan and he did not die in Iraq even though he served in multiple tours over there. He died M.I.A overboard on his ship in the cold frigid waters of the Baltic sea one cold and blustery night in February of 2005. A fleet of over 24 ships could not find him. I found out by getting a phone call at 7 a.m. in the morning while I was bedridden with a cast up to my knee (They found him 8 months later on my birthday). It was the best and the worst birthday gift I have ever received.
It is now almost 10 years later and my heart still sinks every time he creeps into my mind. Like now. It's so hard to lose someone you love. He was just 24. I was his younger sister by two years. I'm now 32. I shouldn't be older than him now. You were such a good, kind=hearted person Ivan. The world suffered a great loss when you passed. I would give anything to see you one more time. You took a piece of my heart when you left this world. I miss you. I cry for you. I wish for you.
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