I don’t often talk about my Dad, but when I do the subject often is his role in WW2.
My Dad joined the British Columbia Dragoons in April 1941 – he was 18. That is so young. He grew up in Fernie, BC; and I suspect things were tough there at the end of the Depression. I don’t know what options there were other than the coal mine, so I guess the army looked good.
To summarize the action the BC Dragoons (and my Dad) saw, here is an excerpt from the Okanagan Military Museum website:
“…After training in Canada the regiment was embarked for overseas duty in November, 1941. The regiment arrived in England for further training as a regiment within the 2nd Armoured Brigade of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division.
The Canadian Armoured Corps was reorganized in 1943 and when the regiment landing in Italy in December of 1943 it was as the junior regiment in the 5th Armoured Brigade or the 5th Armoured Division.
The regiment fought in a number of major actions of the Italian campaign including difficult battles against the determined German defences of the Gothic line. As the BCDs moved through the wartorn Italian countryside they liberated villages and towns fighting tank on tank battles, attacking dug in defences and supporting infantry assaults always looking out for the deadly German 88s, a devastating anti-tank gun.
The Regiment fought in Italy until February of 1945 when it was transfered to North-Western Europe with the 1st Canadian Corps and saw service in Holland. …”
My Dad was discharged on Oct. 3, 1945, a month after the end of the war.
He never talked about his experience in the war to me, the few details I do know are from my Mom but I don’t think he told her much about it either. He died just before I turned 14, so I never had a chance to ask about his experiences.
It’s interesting to me how our perspective of our parents changes as we age ourselves and live some life. Now, in hindsight, I can see the huge impact of being in WW2 had on my Dad. Because of the disparity between the poverty of the people and riches of the Church he abandoned Catholicism; which in turn led to a family rift (the consequence being, I don’t know anyone on that side of the family). As well, I’m quite sure he had post traumatic stress disorder.
I certainly value all that he and all of the armed forces did (and continue to do) to champion freedom. I just wish humans were a whole lot smarter so that we didn’t keep fighting wars.