Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Thomas Hanson

My name is Tom Hanson. I was born in Montreal and joined the Army in Montreal in early September 1939. I was trained as a commercial telegraph operator before the war, so I joined the Signal Corps, naturally.

I went overseas with 1st Corps Signals, and served with them in England until mid-September of 1943, at which time we were sent to Sicily with the 2nd Contingent, including the 5th Division and a number of core troops, artillery regiments, to reinforce the 1st Division which were already there. To support them and create, in effect, a full Canadian corps.

I served in Italy, coming up as far as Ravenna on the Adriatic coast and taking along the way the action at Cassino. From Ravenna we moved down to Naples and then to Marseille to join the Canadian Army in northwest Europe. I was with them until the end of hostilities, and then volunteered for action in the Pacific. I came home, but the war in the Pacific ended before the proposed 6th Canadian Division was mobilized and could be moved there effectively.

Because my wife and my children have asked me very often about the war, and not willing to be fatiguing about it, I started to write about it, and I've written so far about three particular incidents. The death of a young soldier while he and I were talking. Another one concerns a line patrol to repair a ruptured communication line with my Corporal, who received the Military Medal for that particular action. Also, one about the experience of being bombed out in a soldiers' hostel in London in 1941.

In this one incident, I was a Sergeant in the signals section attached to the 1st Canadian Medium Artillery Regiment, and included in this section was a component known as the 'Line Section'. They were responsible in the signals for laying telegraph lines. One night when we were in Ravenna, and getting a fairly heavy counter battery fire, a Corporal of the Line Section – a chap by the name of Percy Gunn – came up to me and told me that he was out of manpower. His men were all employed, and we had to go out and find break in the communication line to some other artillery regiment, and could I find a man for him. I couldn't find one, so I went with him. While I was senior in rank to him, I was acting under his direction because it was his trade, not mine. Anyway, it was pretty busy. We got caught in fairly heavy shellfire at the point where the line had been burned out, because a truck loaded with ammunition or fuel or something had been hit and burned. It was kind of noisy and very lit up, which gives you the impression the whole German Army are looking over your shoulder. So we got the job done, got it fixed and went back, and a result of that, Perce Gunn got the Military Medal.

Jack Neilson

My name is Jack Neilson. I served in the Canadian Army Signal Corps. And I think that from a very early age I was destined to join the armed forces. My great grandfather served in the British Army. My grandfather in the Canadian Army during 1918. And my father in the army from 1930 to 1951.

My own service runs from 1954 to 1982. I had a desire for travel and adventure and looked on the military as the best way to fulfill that desire. In 1954 I joined the Naval Reserve as a communicator. In 1955 I transferred to the regular Navy, again, as a communicator and I set off for HMCS Cornwallis for basic training. Things went well 'til the end of basic when we were on a final training cruise and it was discovered my eyesight wasn't good enough for my trade. Kind of a funny story on that one. The first incident was I reported a light which ended up being a star just rising over the horizon. The second was reporting an aircraft which turned out to be a seagull. That's when they sent me for the eye test. So my only options given were to transfer to cook or steward or take my leave 'cause all the other trades were full. Even though I'd attempted a career in the Navy, I always wonder if the army should have been my choice.

They released me from the Navy and I was told to report to the Army Recruiting Centre in Winnipeg. In September of '56 I enlisted in the army and I reported to the School of Signals in Kingston, Ontario. And at that time basic training was infantry-oriented, very tough. This was followed by driver training and dispatch rider training. Dispatch riders delivered messages in the field by motorcycles or sometimes by Jeep. On completion of training I was posted to the 1st Canadian Infantry Division Signals Regiment in Camp Borden, Ontario as a dispatch rider.

In 1958, was assigned to 3 Brigade Signals which relocated to Gagetown, New Brunswick. In 1961 I did a partial tour in October to November, with the United Nations operation in the Congo. And I worked out of Leopoldville, which is now Kinshasa in a detachment to provide communications relay functions. Our mandate was to prevent civil war, arrange a cease fire and halt all military operations. Prior to this was the apprehension and detention of all foreign military and para-military personnel not under UN command. And it was specifically related to mercenaries. Use of force was authorized. Maintaining the territorial integrity of the Congo was added to the mandate which led to the UN fighting the ... forces in the Catanga Province, these were led by foreign mercenaries again.

On return from the Congo I was a posted to a newly formed unit attached NORTHAG, the Northern Army Group of NATO. We provided strategic communications at the headquarters level and tactical communications for the British Army of the Rhine. Our role was to act as a first line reaction defensive force in the event of a Soviet invasion.

On return from NORTHAG in 1965 I was posted to Camp Borden Signal Squadron where we provided communications facilities and working in a blast-proof underground bunker. This also had facilities so the Ontario Government could continue to function in the event of a nuclear attack.

And then in 1966 the Canadian Armed Forces Motorcycle Display Team was formed to participate in centennial activities during 1967. I volunteered and, after very rugged testing and evaluation period was selected for their team. We provided a 45-minute show which included high speed precision riding, acrobatic stunts on motorcycles, jumping through fire, etcetera. We also provided two 10-man teams who provided similar services to the Canadian Armed Forces Tattoo.

From May to October in 1967 we did a cross Canada tour performing in 105 locations from BC to Newfoundland.

Michael Gerard Blaise “Chip” Young

I went up around the Annapolis Valley [Nova Scotia], but the camp I finally went to, to take my training, my basic training, and my advanced training, was at the Barriefield [Camp], [in Kingston,] Ontario. And it was good up there, we lived in tents. In fact, I ran into my older brother who was in the army, he was up there at Barriefield waiting on an overseas draft for England at that time. The oldest brother, his name is Cletus, John Cletus, he’s up in Sudbury, up around Sudbury, Ontario or Sault Ste. Marie. He’s in his 90s now.

I believe, from Kingston, Ontario, when the first time, I was up in Barriefield and that and missed the drafts, I think it was after that that I went up to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. And, from Yellowknife, I went to Norman Wells, Northwest Territories. And I went to a place they called Baker Lake, Northwest Territories, as an army radio operator. And that was a four-man [station], there was a sergeant and a cook and three of us operators, by the Baker Lake, there were other [radio stations in the north], not very much. I can remember that, at times, I met Eskimos that had never seen a white man, a white person before, and the caribou herds used to, right on the camp, was right next to the station, right next to the caribou trail. Caribous start marching by, it might take five, six days, or a week for the whole herd to pass through. It was thousands upon thousands upon thousands. You wouldn’t believe it, it’s something you’d have to see to believe.

Read more: Link

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Faces of War

This database features photographs of men and women who served in the Canadian Forces during the Second World War. Taken from the Department of National Defence (DND) collection at Library and Archives Canada, these photographs depict military life during the Second World War.
Visitors can search almost 2500 images from the DND collection, representing each branch of the Canadian Forces: Army, Navy and Air Force.

Signal officers of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (W.R.C.N.S.), Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, October 1943. Link

Signaller Irene Cheshire of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (W.R.C.N.S.), H.M.C.S. CORNWALLIS, Deep Brook, Nova Scotia, Canada, August 1945. Link

Signallers Marian Wingate and Margaret Little of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service at work. Link

Signallers, Royal Canadian Navy Signal Station, Gordon Head, British Columbia, Canada, 17 March 1942. Link

Signalman A. McNeil entering Caen in a captured German halftrack vehicle, Caen, France, 10 July 1944. Link

Signalman F. Roy of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (R.C.C.S.), 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade, stringing wires for a signals exchange, Normandy, France, 24 June 1944. Link

Signalman F.R.J. Savage of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (R.C.C.S.) and the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade reads the inscription on a plaque dedicated to an unknown British soldier buried on 9-10 November 1920. Boulogne, France, 19 September 1944. Link

Signalman J. Bennett of the 1st Canadian Railway Telegraph Company, Royal Canadian Engineers (R.C.E.), installing wire on a pole in the railway yards, Louvain, Belgium, 6 January 1945. Link

Signalman J.A. Knirchk, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (R.C.C.S.), 4th Canadian Armoured Division, stringing a line on a statue, Eikelenberg, Belgium, 23 October 1944. Link

Signalman J.T. Prime of 1st Canadian Army Signals, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (R.C.C.S.), operating a local radio receiver and remote unit, Zeddam, Netherlands, 4 April 1945. Link

Signalman N.L. Garrant and G.K. Gree of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade digging a slit trench in the Normandy beachhead, France, ca. 8-9 June 1944. Link

Signalman Rusty Forsythe and Captain R.W. Armstrong digging slit trenches during Operation SPRING south of Ifs, France, 25 July 1944. Link

Signalmen Clark and Waters operating a signal projector aboard the destroyer H.M.C.S. ASSINIBOINE at sea, 1940. Link

Signals Centre of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division near Castelnuovo, Italy, 17 March 1944.
(Foreground, L-R): Signalman C.H. Groat, Corporal W.G. Davenport, Signalman W.D. Lansdell, Lance-Corporal A.B. Mitchell, Signalman C.K. Hillyer. (Rear, L-R): Captain G.R. Kell, Sergeant-Major A.L. Hurst. Link

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Tom Jenkins - NATO, Peacekeeping

Tom Jenkins joined the Artillery Reserves in Brandon, Manitoba while still in high school in 1972. In January, 1974 he was released from the Reserves and joined the regular force of the Canadian Forces. After basic training at Canadian Forces Recruit School Cornwallis in Nova Scotia, he reported for trades training at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics at Canadian Forces Base Kingston, Ontario. There he was trained as a Communicator Research Operator, working in the signals intelligence field.
Read more Link

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Heros Remembered - James Gratto - When the Belgian People Left

When the Belgian people were taken, fled out of the country, it was just like walking into a villa. Which is a villa, but it's a house like in Bay Ridge but they call them villas right? You walk into a house and the clothes are still hanging in the closet, a jacket might be still on the back of a chair because all they took was their money or valuables and left. If not, they would have been hacked to death. Link

Canadian Forces in Congo

Collection of interviews with veterans of the Canadian Forces recount their experience of military service in Congo. The veterans of this video are: Bob Terry, Fred LeBlanc, Ed Dubinsky, Ron Knapton, Bert Diamond and James Gratto. Link

Heros Remembered - Ron Knapton - First Impressions of the Congo

Mr. Knapton describes the sights when first arriving in the Congo. Link

Raymond LaBrosse - Behind Enemy Lines

Raymond LaBrosse - Behind Enemy Lines

Fighting a rising sense of dread, Lucien Dumais slowed his bicycle. Standing in the bombedout roadway ahead, with a rifle slung over his shoulder, was a German Army sergeant, signalling him to halt. It was late fall 1943. Dumais and his travelling companion, Raymond LaBrosse, had just left the French city of Rennes and were on their way to the Britanny coast to complete a dangerous task. This holdup could easily end their mission, endangering the lives of many people, including themselves.
Read more Link

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Jim Hueglin - Memories of the Congo ONUC

Memories of the Congo ONUC, A work in progress
            I was born on 15 July 1940 in Stratford, Ontario to Mabel Haines and Eugene Hueglin and I have one brother who is three years older than me. My early years were spent in Stratford, Guelph, and Dover Township, Ontario. June and I married on 23 Dec 1961 and we had our first child, Stephen on 22 Dec 1962.
            In 1961 I was unemployed, with a Grade XII education and living with my parents in the countryside outside Chatham, Ontario. No member of my family had ever been in the Canadian military, however, for some unknown reason I had a desire to join the Army so I went on my own to the Recruiting Office in Chatham to inquire about enlisting.
            On 2 February 1961, I was sent to No 7 Personnel Depot in London, Ontario where, after my first military haircut, I participated in various forms of testing to determine whether I was mentally, physically and technically acceptable to join, and what I would be best suited to do.
            On 23 February 1961, I was Taken on Strength of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals and underwent six months of basic training at the Royal Canadian Regiment Depot, Wolseley Barracks, in London. My first six months at the Depot involved living four to a room, Kit layouts, frequent inspections, a good deal of marching and saluting and field craft. It was a time when each recruit kept a bayonet and rifle in their clothes locker and, a breach block in their barrack box. My wake up call each morning was a metal pipe being thrown along the terrazzo floor outside my room.
            On completion of Basic Training I was shipped off to the School of Signals in Kingston, Ontario. The initial time in Kingston involved indoctrination training into the way Signals did things, Technical Preparatory Training, and getting to know the other seven individuals who shared my one room, double bunked, living space.
            Following the aforementioned I commenced a long Group 1 training course, in Kingston, as a Teletype & Cipher Equipment Technician, a trade that required that I have a high level security clearance. During the time I was on course June and I married in Chatham. This was not as easy as it sounds since I had to receive my superior's permission to marry and live on the economy and, because of the course I was on, there was some concern that I would be living with someone who did not have a security clearance. As an aside, at the time we married, an Other Rank had to be 21 years old to receive, in addition to a monthly basic pay of $115.00, before deductions, a Marriage Maintenance Allowance of $30.00 and a Subsistence Allowance of $100.00 to help defray the cost of living on the economy.
            On completion of the course I was posted, within the School of Signals, to the teletype maintenance organization (X Tp), that operated out of the Genet Building, working with a memorable group of technicians. Most of this group were solid role models in terms of work and family, however, ... On completion of a Junior NCO Course on 28 March 1963, I was promoted Corporal.
            22 November 1963, the day JFK was assassinated, I was in the Orderly Room in the Forde Building at Vimy Barracks in Kingston signing a document that read that should I not appear for a tour of duty in the Republic of the Congo I would be classified as a deserter. Before deployment June and Stephen moved to live with her parents in Chatham and, as was then required I made a mandatory pay allotment to June of $60.00 per month.
            Our contingent flew via Pisa, Italy in a Yukon, turboprop aircraft, from Trenton, Ontario, to N'idjili airport in Leopoldville, Congo to join other members of 57 Canadian Signals Unit who were already serving there After takeoff from Trenton, with this being the first time I had flown, it was somewhat disconcerting when the pilot feathered the engine as the aircraft reached its cruising altitude. The change from the noise of the aircraft labouring  to gain height, to dead silence when it leveled off was a shock I will never forget. In Pisa, along with other tourists, I climbed the Leaning Tower and, later in the day watched others from our contingent trying to pass Canadian Tire money off as legal Canadian currency at the hotel where we were billeted. When we landed at the airport in Leopoldville, the aircraft door opened and the smell and atmosphere of Africa came wafting in.
            In  the course of my deployment my time was split between Leopoldville and Elizabethville. Leopoldville, being a city at an elevation of 240 m, some 515 km inland from, and East of the Atlantic Ocean and 480 km south of the Equator was hot, humid and rainy. Life there was quite routine in many ways. I climbed up and down seven flights of stairs more than once a day since the elevator in our quarters did not work.  There were about 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. It rained everyday at about the same time. I had access to a community swimming pool that was always as warm as tea. Off duty life centred around the wet canteen and its liquor and Polar beer; an outdoor area where movies were shown at night on a large screen; buying local Franks on the black market with the Canadian $10 bill June mailed to me in a magazine; an occasional trip downtown to the ivory market area to buy souvenirs such as a jewellery box, mask, spear or Katanga cross; or a walk along the Congo River to watch the locals in dugout canoes or view the statues of King Leopold and Stanley.
            I walked everyday to and from my quarters to my place of work in the UN Headquarters Building (Athenee Royale). I stood guard on occasion outside our quarters with an unloaded weapon. I worked the day shift in a maintenance shop above the tape relay centre along with some of the same people I had worked with in X Tp and I mostly chummed around with a fellow by the name of Bob Leckie.
            My work dress was a blue beret, armlets with rank, Corps and Unit designation, an Indian Bush shirt, khaki shorts, a web belt and buckle, knee high socks and suede jungle boots. You could tell you had been in theatre for awhile if you had hair on your knees from not wearing long pants.
            Other fond memories include buying a Phillips tape recorder and short wave radio; recording Congolese music; listening to CBC Radio International as The Beatles arrived in North America and the Bonaventure headed for Cyprus transporting Canadian troops. Other less fond memories include Wally Shannon, the SSM, who insisted we play what came to be called "Wally Ball" (at one time his wife was Head Waitress at the Vimy Officer's Mess); only getting milk when the next Yukon flight arrived; seeing people eating from the kitchen waste area outside our mess hall; and witnessing the local police arresting young people, throwing them into the back of a vehicle and carting them off to jail.
            The teletype equipment we maintained were electromechanical in design and included the Teletype Corporation Model 15 teleprinter and the Model 28 teleprinter, perforator/reperforator combination; and the Kleinschmidt TT-4 teleprinter. These were all mid 1900's pieces of equipment that were widely used in the US and Canadian military and that, for the most part, were easy to maintain. The Model 15 and Model 28 lent themselves to static installations in message centres whereas the TT-4 was a portable piece of equipment that was well suited to field use. I, however, can remember one instance when it took me a great deal of time to repair a singularly frustrating TT-4. The Typex cipher machine used was a variation of an electromechanical device, with changeable rotors, that first came into use with the British military prior to WW II. It was big, bulky and, I believe, weighed about 120 lbs. To the best of my knowledge it required a good deal of operator maintenance and was time consuming to operate. After my return I heard a tale that for security reasons, and since there was no value in bringing them home, all the in-theatre Typex machines were dropped out of an aircraft into the Congo river.
            Quarters were primitive as I lived on the seventh floor of an apartment building with no operating elevator, no laundry facilities, cots with tin cans filled with liquid to deter creatures from climbing in to bed with you and ants continuously streaming up and down the building, foraging for everything they could carry away. Our laundry was collectively stomped on in a bath tub by a houseboy and sun dried on the roof of our quarters. There was no need for starch when they were ironed because of the residual salt they contained.
            Elizabethville, being a city at an elevation of 1208 m, some 1570 km by air inland to the East of Leopoldville, and 1300 km south of the Equator, was cooler and drier than Leopoldville. Life there was quite different and getting there and back was hair-raising. On the flight to Elizabethville it took the pilot three tries to get the plane airborne; that is to say he roared it down the runway, realized that he could not lift it off, aborted the takeoff and taxied back to his starting point and tried again.  On the return flight some months later, on a stop at one of the other detachments, the plane came in to land, bounced when it hit the runway, took off again and circled around before making a safe landing. As I recall, the plane was a Douglas DC-3 flown by civilian pilots hired by the UN.
Once in Elizabethville life became routine once again, but in a different way. I lived with other detachment members in a ground level villa. We had our own French Canadian cook and the houseboy, and his family, lived in a small dwelling behind the villa. The local UN Headquarters building was a short walk away and getting there and back offered an opportunity to interact with the local community and practice basic Kiswahili such as Jambo, habari gani, habari nzuri, misouri kapisa, umke na watoto howa jambo. The houseboy was not adverse to inviting me into his family home and introducing me to a local dish of manioc and beef in Pili-Pili sauce. Since practising my trade did not occupy all my time, my secondary duty was to assist our cook on ration runs. This involved trips with him to the local market to buy fresh food using our own transportation, and dealings with Indian and Pakistani troops who collectively ran the local UN Rations Depot and provided transportation to the Depot and back. What was most interesting about this situation was that, notwithstanding the hostility that then existed between India and Pakistan, the troops got along very well. Often, after a ration run our cook would wind up bartering the UN supplied food, e.g. canned bully beef, for local produce. Local sights included giant ant hills, malachite mines, and the local zoo and its chain smoking chimpanzee.
            I arrived back in Trenton on Thursday, 28 May 1964. Rather than quarantine us  for the weekend at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Ontario we were told to report back on the following Monday for post deployment medical examination for, among other things, parasites. I think we all welcomed the chance to immediately see our family, however, It made no sense then, and it still doesn't. At the time, June and Stephen were staying in Preston, Ontario with my brother and his wife so I hitchhiked there for the weekend. When I was dropped off on the highway outside Preston I was hungry so, before heading off on foot to find my brother's house, I stopped at a restaurant and bought a piece of cherry pie to satisfy a craving I had.
            During my post deployment leave, June, Stephen and I stayed with June's parents in Chatham. Shortly after we started staying with them my barrack box arrived at the local Customs Office. After clearing customs, and bringing It to June's parent's house, I opened my barrack box and, lo and behold, out wafted the smell of Africa. From the money we saved during my deployment to the Congo June and I purchased a used Volkswagen Beetle and a Vilas kitchen table and four chairs. We still have the table.
So endeth the story.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Memory Project: Image Gallery

The Memory Project: Image Gallery


William “Bill” Hitchon

Dispatch riders from William Hitchon's unit in Holland, 1945.

I joined the army in July 1940. I tried to get in the year before, but they said I wasn’t old enough. So we signed up in Belleville [Ontario]. We went from there to Kingston and we were in Kingston [Ontario], at that time, we were in the 15th Field Regiment [of the Royal Canadian Artillery, RAC]. Then they sent us to Petawawa [Ontario] and in Petawawa, they changed us from the 15th Field to the 5th Light Ack-Ack[Anti-Aircraft] Regiment. In the fall of 1941, we went to Debert, Nova Scotia. We were only there for a week and we went over to Scotland. That is, we went on the [HMCS] Pasteur. We got to Scotland and they sent us by train down to Colchester [England]. In the summer of 1943, we were chosen, the battery I was in, was chosen to be ack-ack protection when the royal family were on their holidays at Sandringham [House, a royal estate]. We went there and we got there the day before they were supposed to arrive, and I had a bicycle and I was out riding the bicycle. And I saw two girls and a fellow standing on the side of the road. And they had bicycles and I said, “Are you in trouble?” They said, “Yes, one of the chains came off on the bicycle.” “Well,” I said, “that’s no problem.” I put it back on and they thanked on and I went on. And that night, the queen [Queen Mother Elizabeth] came over to where we were staying above the royal stables and she wanted to thank the soldier that put the chain on Princess Elizabeth’s bike. And Evert Fairman was our captain and he said, “Are you sure it was one of our fellows?” And she says, “Yes, he was a Canadian, he was tall and he was riding a bike.” And Evert said, “There was only one of our fellows that has a bike and he’s tall.” So after the queen had left, he called me and said, “Did you put the chain on a girl’s bike?” I said, “Yes.” “Do you know who it was?” I said, “No.” “Well,” he says, “it was Princess Elizabeth. And it was her father and her sister that was with her.” I went down to see some friends in the [4th] PLDGs [Princess Light Dragoon Guards], and got there just before dinner, so I didn’t want to go to see them, it wasI in Worthing. And I was walking down the street and there was an air force parade on down the street, a couple hundred yards. And the planes come in and dropped two bombs towards the end of the parade. And it killed, I don’t know how many it killed, but there was 21 damaged. And they machine gunned up the street, I had one foot on the sidewalk and one foot on the road and I couldn’t move. I didn’t think it was possible that you could be scared, that you couldn’t absolutely move. The next day, the planes come over again and I happened to be on further up the street, and that day I hid behind a fire hydrant. I could move then. Another strange thing happened. We were in Italy and they’d moved us, we were on a month leave back from the front and they put us right in front of the English heavy artillery. And when those guns went off, they’d lift you an inch off the floor if you were laying down. The Germans were naturally trying to knock out those heavy guns, and so we were getting quite a bit of shelling. And Leo Darache and I were playing cribbage. And he had to go to the toilet. And he went out and just went out the door and I called him back. He said, “What do you want?” I said, “Where would you be if I hadn’t have called you?” And he turned around and went back out again and 30 seconds, he was back in and he said, “I’d be dead.” He said, “There was just a direct hit on the outhouse.” And I’ll never know why I called him back. Just something told me to call him back. I’ll never know why. Another time I stepped on a mine and there was three of us walking across this field and I heard it click under my foot and I told them, “Get out of here,” I said, “I just stepped on a mine.” And they got far enough away, I threw myself on the ground, I thought it would blow over top of me and it was a dud, it come up and didn’t explode. Boy, I don’t think I had a dry stitch of clothes on me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

William Stuart Metcalfe

METCALFE, William Stuart (#A/50101) William “Bill” Metcalfe was born in Sarnia on February 21, 1921, the son of Karl Steadman Metcalfe and Julia Stuart Metcalfe, of Port Huron, Michigan. His grandfather was Lieutenant Colonel W.W. McVicar. William attended public school in Petrolia, Central High School in London, and then finished his education at Sarnia Collegiate Institute. He was a member of Central United Church and also of the Central Century Club, serving as the club’s pianist on Sunday afternoons. After high school, William obtained first class honours in his second year at Toronto Conservatory of Music. When William enlisted, he recorded his place of residence as 309 North College Street, Sarnia and his occupation as a grocery clerk. William joined the Canadian Army on August 13, 1940, in Sarnia, with the Kent Regiment. He trained at Chatham, Wolsey Barracks in London, and Kingston where he took a P.T. course. William was then transferred to the trade school at Hamilton, where he took a special course in Wireless. From there he was sent to Camp Borden with the 5th Canadian Armored Division, going overseas in October 1941. Overseas with the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals 5th Canadian Armored Division, he had the rank of Signalman. He trained in England and while there he married Helen R. Appleby on February 17, 1943 at Chelsea, Middlesex. The new Mrs. Helen Metcalfe was originally from Petrolia, Ontario. William and Helen would have one son together. Later, at the time of William’s death, his wife Helen and son resided in England. William went on to serve a year and a half in Italy, with the British 8th Army in the Central Mediterranean Forces, and was also in Belgium and Holland. In late 1943, not long after his arrival in Italy, William wrote a letter to his grandfather in Sarnia, Lt. Colonel W. W. MacVicar. The following are portions of that letter: I never saw so much filth and poverty anywhere. These towns are beyond all imagination. The first few days here were beautifully warm, and we thought there was something to this “Sunny Italy” business, despite the fact that the nights almost “did us in”. Don’t know when I ever ran into such bone-biting coldness. You can put on everything you own, and still shake like a model T Ford. Then came the rains, and believe me, it has everything that England ever showed us in the way of rain beaten by a mile. We are bivouacked in a vineyard, using pup tents as a home. They aren’t too bad except that every time you touch the canvas when it is raining, the water pours through in torrents, and being so low we are always touching them, so, there being no room upward, we decided to go down, and now are sleeping some three feet below the surface of the ground in something that is a cross between a tent and a dugout. It is not bad, though, and actually it is comparatively dry and quite warm. We are thankful that conditions are no worse than they are. They definitely could be very much worse. The food is good and can be supplemented with all kinds of oranges, apples and nuts. The one thing here worth mentioning is the music one can hear anywhere in the streets. It seems to be the only thing these people can do properly, and they do it under the least provocation. Some poor broken specimen of humanity shuffling along will suddenly burst forth in a flood of song that would put Nelson Eddy to shame, and when they get about half “vino-ed” up you should hear them. Speaking of “vino”, it is no wonder these people got licked at every turn of the wheel if they have been drinking that brew ever since they were infants. It’s vile! About the only thing I can say for it is that it would make good ink. Approximately one month after VE Day, marking the end of war in Europe, on June 4, 1945, William Metcalfe would lose his life in Groeningen, Holland. In mid-June of 1945, Lt. Col. W.W. McVicar in Sarnia would be notified of the death of his grandson, Signalman William Stuart Metcalfe, which occurred in Holland on June 4. William Metcalfe would later be officially listed as, Overseas casualty, in the field (Holland), cause of death drowning. Twenty-four year old William Metcalfe is buried in Holten Canadian War Cemetery, Netherlands, Grave VI.B.13. William Metcalfe’s name is also inscribed on the Petrolia cenotaph in the Town of Petrolia.


Virtual war memorial

Friday, March 18, 2016

Marguerite Downes

Maj Marguerite Downes

Major Marguerite Downes, the highest ranking black female officer in the Ontario Canadian Army Reserves, died on June 4 in Toronto of respiratory failure. She was 70. Read More The Globe and Mail

Who's who in Black Canada

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

James Edward Lankin

James Edward Lankin, CD
02 June 1941 - 06 July 2011

     James Edward (Ed) Lankin was a Member of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping and was a Member and Past President of the LCpl David W. Young Chapter, Courtland, Ontario.

     Ed joined the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals as a Radio Operator in July 1957 and served until his release in September 1977.

     Ed completed a United Nations tour of duty with United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF I) from 1960 to 1961 in Gaza, Egypt. He then completed a tour with the United Nations Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP) in Nicosia, Cyprus from 1967 to 1968. Ed did a second tour of duty with United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF II) in Cairo, Egypt from 1972 to 1973. He was also part of the NATO forces in Soest, Germany from 1962 to 1965.

May He Rest in Peace

Daniel Alexander Russ

Daniel Alexander Russ, OMM, CD
11 August 1940 - 17 January 2011

     Daniel Alexander Russ was a Member of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping and was a Member of the National Headquarters Chapter, Ottawa, Ontario.

     Daniel joined the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in August 1956 and served until his release in 1981.

     Daniel completed United Nations tour of duty in 1960 with 57 Canadian Signals Unit with the United Nations Organization in Congo (ONUC); with 56 Canadian Signal Squadron in Egypt with United Nations Emergency Force I (UNEF I) in 1964 - 1965 and with the Damascus Signal Troop with United Nations Disengagement Observation Force Golan Heights (UNDOF) in 1978 - 1979.

     Daniel also served with the 709 Toronto Communication Reserve Regiment upon his release from the Regular Force.

     Daniel was also a member of the Hamilton Ontario Signals Association and the Royal Hamilton Military Institute.

May He Rest in Peace

Joseph Henry Haywood

Joseph Henry Haywood
24 July 1933 - 08 June 2012

     Joseph Henry Haywood was a Member of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping and was a Member of LGen R.R. Crabbe Chapter, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

     Joseph joined the Canadian Army (Regular) in May 1951 and served in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals until his release in May 1968.

     He completed a tour with the United Nations Organization in Congo (ONUC) in 1963.

     Joseph was also a member of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association, Royal Canadian Legion, Norwood St. Boniface Branch, Manitoba and an Honoray Member of Korea Veterans Association of Canada Inc, Tommy Prince M.M. Unit 76, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

May He Rest in Peace

Fergus Powers

Fergus Power, CD
30 August 1935 - 08 July 2015

     Fergus Power was a Member of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping and was a Member in the Kingston Limestone Chapter, Kingston, Ontario.

     Fergus joined the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in November 1958 and served until his retirement in August 1980.

     He completed United Nations tours with United Nations Organization in Congo (ONUC) during the period February 1962 to December 1962. He completed a tour with the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) during the period October 1973 to May 1974 and he completed a tour with United Nations Emergency Force (Middle East) during the period June 1979 to February 1980.

     He was also a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 560, Kingston, Ontario.

May He Rest in Peace

Gary A.E. Vanstone

Gary A.E. Vanstone, CD
03 May 1937 - 01 July 2013

     Gary A.E. Vanstone was a Member of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping and was a Member of the MGen Lewis W. MacKenzie Chapter, Sydney, NS.

     Gary joined the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in July 1953 and served with 1st Army Signals, Canadian Forces Station Alert, Canadian Forces Station Masset and Canadian Forces Station Carp. Gary was released in November 1985.

     Gary Vanstone served a United Nations Tour with the United Nations Organization in the Congo.

     Gary was also a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

May He Rest in Peace

Harold Frederick Norman Smith

Harold Frederick Norman Smith, CD
Passed Away - 02 March 2014

     Harold Smith was a Charter Member of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping and was a Founding Member of the Kingston Limestone Chapter, Kingston, Ontario.

     Harold joined the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS) in August 1956 and served 28 years in the Land Element until his release in 1986.

     Harold completed a tour with the United Nations Emergency Force in Egypt with 56 Canadian Signal Squadron during the period April 1958 to April 1959.

May He Rest in Peace

James M. Cameron

James M. Cameron, CD
15 June 1938 - 23 November 2014

James Cameron     James M. Cameron was a Member of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping and was a Member in the Prince Edward Island Chapter, Summerside, Prince Edward Island.

     James joined the Canadian Army in January 1956 and served until his retirement in March1985.

     He completed United Nations tours with United Nations Emergency Force with the Royal Canadian Signals Squadron, Rafah, Egypt during the period February 1966 to February 1967. He also served with 73 Service Battalion located at Ismailya, Egypt during the period April 1979 to October 1979.

     He was also a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 17, Wellington, Prince Edward Island.

May He Rest in Peace

Loyd Harold Carr

Lloyd Harold Carr, CD
14 January 1942 - 25 May 2014

     Lloyd H. Carr was a Member of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping and was a Member of the Colonel John Gardam Chapter, Ottawa, Ontario.

     Lloyd joined the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in June 1958 and served in the Land Element until his release.

     Lloyd completed tours with the United Nations Organization in Congo with the Canadian Signal Squadron during the period April 1962 to April 1963. He then completed a tour with the Canadian Contingent United Nations Disengagement Observation Force Golan Heights with 73 Canadian Signal Squadron during the period November 1977 to May 1978. Lloyd also completed a tour with the Canadian Contingent Headquarters, United Nations Disengagement Observation force in Damascus, Syria during the period Jul 1989 to July 1990.

     Lloyd was also an active member of the Ottawa Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

May He Rest in Peace

Wednesday, January 6, 2016



The following personnel are mentioned in accompanying photographs:
Lt. Col. H.D.W. Wethey, 
Major F.H. Rowland, 
QMS J.T. Hanes, 
S/Sgt C.L. Getz Back, 
S/Sgt G.W. Laycroft, 
Sgt. C.F. Colvin, 
Sgt. W.V. Gavrilloff, 
Sgt. W.H.C. Holcombe, 
Sgt. J.E. Lauret, 
Sgt. R.F. McCallum, 
Sgt. K.W. McKay, 
Sgt. T. Murray, 
Sgt W.F. Schrempp, 
Sgt. E.D. Welland, 
Sgt. L.M. Williams, 
Signalman L. Exelby, 
Signalman J.G. Groome, 
Signalman E.A. Lowe, 
Signalman Maywood.
Signalman R. Montreuil,
Signalman J. Taylor.
Signalman J.P. Trottier.