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The First World War impacted Canada and the world in a significant and lasting way. Veterans’ stories have been passed down from grandparents to grandchildren, from friend to friend. Here, the narrative continues with a collection of reader-submitted stories about how the war touched the lives of people they knew and loved.
My great uncle James David Moses was a member of the Delaware band of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory near Brantford, ON. Joining as an officer and subsequently serving with Canada's two largely Indigenous formations of the Great War (the 114th Battalion, CEF, "Brock's Rangers"; and the 107th "Timber Wolf" Battalion, CEF)he transferred for duty as air gunner and artillery observer in September 1917. He was reported Missing on 1 April 1918, while serving with 57 Squadron RFC, on the day on which the RFC and the RNAS amalgamated to form the Royal Air Force proper. Thus one of the first battle casualties of the famed RAF was an Indigenous Canadian from the Six Nations Confederacy. The downing of his aircraft was attributed by the Germans to a member of von Richtoffen's Flying Circus.
My grandfather, Carl Falkenberg, joined up with the 8th Royal Rifles in June 1915, but after being wounded transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in June 1917. He went on to have 17 victories against the enemy, won the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar, and witnessed Manfred von Richthofen's body being pulled from the wreckage of his plane.
After the war he served as assistant to Lord Tweedsmuir, the Governor General of Canada.
I still have a memory of a photo of my Grandpa Allen Sceli in his WWI uniform. He grew up on a farm north of London, Ontario. That is about it.
My father Sholto Douglas Morrison was a pilot with the Royal Flying Corps. He had many postings in England and France.
Aircraft flown by Lieut Morrison included the Maurice Farman (S.H.), A,W,, B.E. 2C, B.E. 2E and the R.E. 8 (Armstrong Whitworths). He survived three crashes. As a member of XV (15) Squadron, R.F.C.,his duties were largely reconnaissance. This squadron had its own photographic section. Flying was carried out at low level and, therefore, at great risk. My father has left us many photos and maps of the Great War.
I come from the town of Listowel ON and lived not too far from the birthplace of Andrew Edward McKeever. As a young teenager growing up I read of his exploits and this inspired me to join Air Cadets and eventually getting my pilot's licence. I have made a career of flying and am still passing on the enthusiasm to the next future generation of Canadian pilots. Flying has given me the opportunity to travel to wonderful Canadian destinations including Iqualuit, medevac pilot to the south shore of Hudson Bay, Forest fire spotting in the Timmins Chapleau district, Bud Worm spray pilot in the Nipigon area, instructing at both Sault college and Seneca College as well as private charters to Sept Iles, Montreal, St John's Newfoundland, mine sites in Northern Ontario and Quebec, Vancouver, flights over the Rockies in a small plane and flying into farm strips all over Ontario for the Pork Producers marketing board. From small plane trips to jet charters, I have amassed over 20,000 hours and loved every flight seeing Canada from the perspective of the air has instilled a sense of awe and love for this amazingly diverse country
Justin O'Brien, my great uncle, was a young man when he joined the Newfoundland Regiment in 1917. The terrible Battle of Beaumont Hamel had occurred the previous year. He did basic training, was sent overseas and ended up in battle with his comrades. He was killed Oct. 20, 1918, less than a month before the Great War ended. He is buried in Belgium, forever 19.
When my father was born in 1931, his parents named him after Justin, his uncle whom he would never get the chance to meet. And coincidentally, I was born on October 20 many decades later.
My great-uncle, Charles Joiner, died near Arras, France, in April 1917 while attempting to take Bayonet and Rifle Trenches during a Royal Berkshire Regiment offensive. For years, all we knew was the date of his death in France. After listening at the school where I teach to a Remembrance Day presentation on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, I entered his name and date of death. The resulting data on his regiment and place of recognition (Arras Memorial) then helped me order regimental histories and war diaries from England. One such book contained a map of the very trenches where he was killed in an attempt to protect the flank of Vimy Ridge (had not expected the Canadian link!). Imagine my surprise when I scanned the map, georeferenced the image into Google Earth, zoomed in to one of the trenches, and discovered the tell-tale zig-zag of a trench underlying the farmer's field when I changed the transparency of the overlay. I still get a feeling of excitement when sharing this story and the map and remote-sensing images with my Geography students every Nov. 11. It is both an example of making Remembrance Day personal and a testament to the importance of geographic thinking and skills in our lives.
Hello, this last weekend I had the chance to meet Bernada Bilic at the airshow and was asked to contact her here. I am the current air cadet who got a photo with Winnie (I would have put the photo in here too like we talked about, but I haven't gotten the photo from my mother yet). If there any way for me to help with this initiative please let me know. History is an interest of mine along with aviation. I personally can't wait the see the the building of the replica biplanes.
my father was in the r.f.c. during the war . when it ended he flew for the manitoba forestry service , aireal photo. in b.c. out of jerico beach. always looking for related info . l.h. phinney wing comander
Great Grandpa Bryan, or Cap Bryan as everyone called him was a strict and much-revered high school teacher, firm but fair. He didn't talk much about his war experiences. In those days, and perhaps now, no one really did. The horrors of WWI and WWII were not shared largely because those of us safely waiting back home could never really comprehend the magnanimity of the sounds, sights or sorrows borne by our soldiers. Nevertheless, his 'kit' was kept in pristine fashion and was -upon his death at age 90-something- donated to the national armoury in his home town, Stratford. To see his uniform and some relics (likely traded with the 'enemy') like a genuine German helmet on display was moving. The stoic silence about his war experience did not diminish his riveting reverence around the November 11th cenotaph. And then, three generations later, around that same cenotaph stood my son, his great-grandson- on guard standing post. For me, the swirl of the autumn leaves carried my thoughts away while standing alongside the thousands who come to the event on Remembrance Day, to the melding of generations in purpose and ideology. Our country was made of men like him and they 'stand on guard for us' even today.