On April 19th, 1942, I caught my first convoy out of Bedford Basin in Halifax. We went through the Mediterranean, through the Suez, to Bombay, India and then up to Calcutta and that’s where our ship was torpedoed in the Ganges River. Don’s parents were mistakenly notified that their son had died at sea. They held a memorial service and said their goodbyes. After the war, Don came home to Canada. His parents had no idea he was still alive. I took a train from Vancouver to Princeton, BC, where my parents lived. When I got off the bus, my old man grabbed a hold of me, and I thought he was never gonna let me go. He wasn’t a very compassionate sort of person. And he says “You’re supposed to be dead.” and I said “well, I’d like to go see mum.” So he took me over. I saw my mother. Big hug from her that lasted about five minutes. I participated in 33 bombing raids into Germany. Our 30 aircraft squadron, we had 45 aircraft shot down by enemy fighters. I will have been a resident of the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre for two years. All of us here are exceedingly lucky to have a facility such as this for our use.
They make sure you join some group, whether it’s an art group. I mostly paint pictures of the mountains, it reminds me of BC, and lots of different kinds of ships. A lot of my time here in the years I’ve reflected on my father. My father was a very independent veteran and only came to Sunnybrook for four days before he passed. It’s the care that you get here, first of all.
Even at night, if you go to bed and you’re not feeling good, somebody comes in and checks you out. You don’t have to worry about a thing – about illness or anything. You’re looked after by the medical staff. You have entertainment. You have legion trips going here. The garden is a fantastic place to go. I always go down to the bottom end and I sit there – nice and quiet. Last year, at the time of Remembrance Day, my grandson together with other members of his school, participated in a flag planting ceremony.
I didn’t hear very much about the war from my father but did learn a lot from my grandfather and my uncle. These people really deserve a lot more than what we’re able to give them. Buy a flag and help ensure that Sunnybrook veterans continue to have the best quality Join Operation Raise a Flag. Visit raiseaflag.ca.
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