My Remembrance Day

Note well, countrymen, great men have passed this way.

    Remembering veterans. During the wars, Canadians fought the enemy on the oceans, in the air and on land. In the two world wars and Korea they volunteered and over 100,000 died. Most are buried in graves in Hong Kong, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Japan and many other places. The last Canadian Victoria Cross was awarded to Hampton Gray for his attack on a Japanese warship on August 9, 1945, a date with great historical significance as the day the second atomic bomb was dropped.

    When I think of veterans, I think of those in the Merchant Marine and the Canadian Navy tossed by the storms of the Atlantic, sailing in small ships, old ships and ships filled with explosives and gasoline.

I think of the lads in Bomber Command, a third of which was Canadian by the war’s end.

I think of the Worthington brothers. Don was surrounded and killed in Normandy as he fought to the last. Jack was hit in the throat and continued with his duties until he fainted. He died the next day and is buried with his brother.

I think of James Catling, killed while crossing a construction railroad off Juno Beach. James Catling died with his hand on the far rail, dragging himself forward.

I think of Herman Stock, killed just off Juno.

I think of Bert Shepherd, Charlie Martin and Bill Bettridge running towards a German machine gun off Juno and taking out the gunner.

I think of Bull Klos, found dead in a German bunker, his hands around the neck of a dead German defender.

I think of the Lieutenant, hit as he stepped off the assault craft, cursing the fate that ended his war as he stepped onto French soil.

I think of the veteran of the landing tolling through the names of men who died on the beach or who never got out of the landing craft.

I think of the boys in Italy in the mud, the blood and the rain. The D-Day Dodgers, fighting in a country built for defence. They broke two major defence lines but were turned aside from Rome so the Americans could march in.

I think of the lads in the First War when Canadians and Australians broke the German line at Amiens and started the Great German Retreat.

I think of Bill Bettridge giving chocolate to a little German girl who was cowering, with her mother, under the bed, hiding from the horrible Canadians.

I think of the dozens of Canadian prisoners executed by the Germans in the Normandy campaign.

I think of Francis Roy Weitzel, fallen in front of a German position after clearing two machine gun posts, firing his Bren Gun from the hip.

This is my Remembrance Day.

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