Remembering our community heroes
This time of year always reminds me of my Grandpa Harry E. (Bud) Caldwell.
When my mom asked me what words I would use to describe him, I instantly thought of the following: Morals, honour, respect and courage.
I was just 10 years old when my grandpa died; however, I have some pretty good memories of him. One being, he taught me when I meet a person I must look them in the eye say hello and shake their hand.
I remember the old stories he would tell all of us grandkids about the war. One being that he swam the Atlantic Ocean there and back, under water the entire way holding his breath. Of course at our young ages he would never want us to know the real gruesome truth of what he saw.
Now that I am 18-years-old, I really appreciate what he did to fight for our freedom.
My Grandpa Bud was a Canadian paratrooper attached to the 6th Airborne British Division.
He was a part of Operation Varsity, where a 1,000 men unit dropped into the Rhine east of Belgium. Unbeknownst to them the enemy was waiting, 88s every 40 yards, shooting them out of the sky. At the end of four days only 33 men came out alive. My Grandpa Bud being one of them.
I remember my Mom telling me that Grandpa had 13 airplane rides before he landed in one. He also replied when asked, how many times did he jump, he said “never, I was pushed every time.” He had an amazing sense of humor, clearly he had to in order to live with the atrocities of the war.
Dr. Kotlartz, whom was my Grandpa’s GP and longtime friend, told my Mom the day of Grandpa’s funeral, that he lived his life in such a way, because of what he saw during the war time years. He was clearly a true gentleman from the greatest generation.
He was a tough as nails with the softest heart. Our entire family misses him dearly. Only one more year until I get to drink some beer (legally) in his honour with my entire family, as this has been our family tradition on November 11.
I aspire to be the man my Grandpa was.
Lest we Forget.
– Justin Sawley
Linley Schafer served in Italy and Normandy and was a member of the legendary Devil’s Brigade. He moved to Cranbrook in 1969.
Why is my grandpa my hero? I feel he set an amazing example of how a man should live his life; he loved his family unconditionally, he worked hard to take care of them. He was brave. Grandpa had the kind of unshakable strength that we all wish we could possess. He taught us how to soldier on when the going got tough. He was a hard man, but knew humour and loved to play practical jokes. My grandpa is my hero not only because of the sacrifice he made to serve his country during World war two but because he influenced me in a positive way and contributed to the man I am today.
The story about my father Linley Schafer spending Christmas Day in the front lines when his cousin came riding up on his motorcycle to see Dad; that is one story I remember.
But I thought my dad was a hero. He to me was such a brave man! I know it was very hard, the bad memories of the war, but never to talk about it! My Dad just going in the war at 16 makes him a brave man to me. I think he was a great dad; he was strict Father but a dam fun one! I know he was so proud of his war vets and ever Remembrance Day!
I think that he lived life bravely during and after the war. He was courageous in the way he lived life to the fullest. He had been through the darkest days and knew how to find light in the following ones. He possessed an appreciation for love and family, laughter and good times. He was one hell of a good time. He was interesting, kind, and so damn funny. He made us all feel like we were important and could do anything we set our minds to. He led by example. Each one of us was a better person for knowing him.
I of course didn’t know much about his time in the war as I’m one of the youngest grandchildren. But my favourite story is him and grandma (Molly) meeting at the local dance with all the land army girls. Both grandpa and grandma were the people who fueled my imagination and encouraged me that I could be whatever I want to be.
I remember grandpa picking me up from school and asking me what songs I learned in choir that day. He encouraged me to sing to him every day and grandma was always helping me with my witch potions from the garden… my fondest memories were trying to sneak past grandpa without getting tickled and scared half to death. My last memory of grandpa was him holding my hand and smiling at me while everyone else was talking. We had such a special bond. I thank the Lord everyday my after school care was spent with them feeding my imagination and my large tummy. l miss them every day and wish they could have met my mini me.
We remember grandpa was member of the Devil’s Brigade, a joint elite Canadian and US army unit. He was a hero; putting his life second to everyone around him.
My Grandpa was Jim Scanland, who served in the Second World War. I remember my dad telling me that when he was growing up, he was not allowed to talk about the war or ask questions. As I started to learn more about the wars in school, I became curious as to my own Grandpa’s role. I started to ask questions. Grandpa Joined the army and had to lie about his age to get in, I couldn’t imagine being so young and heading to war.
He served with the Fort Garry Horse Regiment and was shipped overseas after Britain’s declaration of war against Germany. Over there he learned how to drive the new American Sherman Tank, also known as the Amphibious Tank, or Swimming Tank. I remember him telling me that this was a secret training and a very BIG DEAL! This would become his job… an Amphibious Tank Driver.
I don’t know everywhere he toured but I do know this: he was on the second wave of ships that stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. His job was to provide artillery support for the first wave of infantry. I cannot fathom what he saw or what he went through.
The true hero in him was able to bring this home and bottle it up so no one could see the pain he had seen or experienced. Instead he held a zest for life in making people happy with his music, and his square dancing, and he himself enjoying the freedom he fought to provide.
I remember campfire songs, whisker rubs, and the big smile and “Hi Son!” every time I saw him! We miss you! You will never be forgotten!
Thank you to all who have served or are currently serving; without your sacrifice we would not have the freedom we enjoy today. Lest we forget.
Bob and Andreja Scanland
An Unexpected Hero
I had the privilege to grow up knowing this remarkable lady. She lived in a tiny house (way before tiny houses were cool) in my Grandparent’s back yard. Elsie loved birds and always had a budgie for company. Her birds changed every few years, but were always named Joey.
Elsie was quiet and kind and every once in a while could be coaxed into tell us stories of her youth. Orphaned at 11-years-old, Elsie was shipped to Canada to live with distant cousins in a small town in Saskatchewan. She grew up quickly and when she was 16 years old, two local lads had a horse and buggy race to determine which one would get to propose to her. After great grandpa won the race, they married in a small church and headed out west to begin a family.
Great Grandma Elsie is an unlikely hero. If she were here today she would be the first to pish-posh such an idea. She would claim she didn’t do much at all. She didn’t serve in the armed forces. She didn’t work as a WAC or in a factory like Rosie the Riveter. She just stayed home and sent her men off to war. Not much heroic about that on the surface.
But every Remembrance Day Elsie would sit in front of her 10 inch black and white TV with the tinfoil on the antennas and watch the Service at the Cenotaph in Ottawa. And she would cry. Not a misty kind of stoic British, stiff upper lip kind-of-cry either. Elsie would weep openly, clutching her handkerchief in her small trembling fist, as the leaders of the day would pay tribute to the brave men and women who gave of themselves for this country of ours.
You see, Elsie stayed home, kept the home fires burning, hung the laundry on the line and rationed sugar and gasoline. Elsie waved goodbye to her sons as they pulled away from the train station heading to faraway places to fight for our freedom. And Elsie waited. For years she kept watch, praying and hoping her sons would come home safe and whole. And one by one they did.
Except her youngest. Her baby. He served as a tail gunner in a plane that was shot out of the sky. The section of plane he was in was blown separate from the rest, ending up scattered miles away. Listed as Missing In Action, Elsie’s baby boy never came home.
Decades later, Elsie still grieved the loss of her son. As a young girl I didn’t quite understand why Great Grandma was so sad, but now that I am a mother I cannot begin to comprehend the courage it took for her to carry on. When did she stop waiting for word that he had been found? When did she give up hope? And every year as she watched the wreath being placed on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, did she wonder if that was the final resting place of her youngest son?
Elsie’s grief was a lifelong battle. She fought with courage and survived. Grandma Elsie left us just after her 96th birthday. During those many decades she lived after losing her boy, she bore a burden of grief and loss that most of us will thankfully, never have to fathom.
So I remember Elsie and her amazing courage.
And I remember my lost Uncle, whom I never had a chance to meet, and the other brave souls who have fought and died to protect our way of life. Because of them we enjoy the freedom to think, speak, worship, and live as we choose. These men and women of the Armed Forces continue to fight for us, and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect our peace.
– Brenda Ann Babinski
Garth Williams Adams
Garth Williams Adams went to active service with the RCAF in the spring of 1941. He ended up in England in March 1943. He trained for four months on a two motor Wellington and then a four motor Halifax. And finally a four motor Lancaster heavy bomber. He was a tail gunner. He had four machine guns in his tail turret. All 27 of their trips were deep into Germany. His squadron was 428 Ghost S. (For sugar) – the name of their plane. Their last flight was April 15, 1945.
– Michele Adams
This Remembrance Day Cranbrook citizens will gather at Rotary Park to salute these men and women, some of whom paid the ultimate price. I will join them, giving thanks to the soldiers for their bravery, and to the families they left behind, for their sacrifice.
Lest We Forget.
The Ode of Remembrance
by Laurence Binyon
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them
Brought to you by Start in Cranbrook