Daughter Shares Father’s Memory of The Salvation Army During Wartime

by Maritime
Categories: 2020, News Archive
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From the beaches of Normandy to the liberation of Holland, Dartmouth native, Henry, proudly served his country during the second world war. Throughout the years, he shared many war stories with his daughter, Mary, but one story in particular has always stood out to her – the work of The Salvation Army. 

“He would be Contributing to the Freedom of Canada”

 “There was no conscription to join the Canadian forces for the second world war,” Mary recalls her late father explaining to her. He decided to register for one main reason, his daughter’s future. He would say, “This is the best country in the world for a little girl to grow up in.”

Many young people were signing up to serve in the Second World War. One was Mary’s Father, Henry, whose family was originally from France, resided in the Quebec Eastern Township. He gained a lot of interest in the cause and decided that by joining he would be contributing to the freedom of Canada.

Remarkably, Henry was considerably older from most young men who signed up. Because of his age of 35, he signed up at a British Enlistment Barracks and filled out the form in French. He feared he would be too old for acceptance, so he lied about his age on the form declaring he was in his 20’s.  He joined forces in Montreal and was assigned to Debert, Nova Scotia for training, followed by Halifax to prepare to embark on the journey to London on a navy ship. During his time in Halifax, he met and married his sweetheart, Josephine, and their only child, Mary, was born.

“The Salvation Army Could be Seen on Every Street Corner”

Henry first discovered The Salvation Army at work during his initial days in London. The bombing campaign was already prevalent, known as the London Blitz. Mary relays her father’s memories, “The Salvation Army could be seen on every street corner,” she says. “Everywhere he looked volunteers could be seen on horse and cart carrying food and supplies for the soldiers. They served biscuits, flasks of tea and handed out blankets.”

Henry served in England, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. He was among the troops who made landing on the beaches of Normandy. The soldiers waited many hours on board a landing craft before they could disembark because there were so many. Henry referred to the craft as a “tin can” because it was tossed around in the strong waves resulting in many soldiers becoming seasick. One of the most difficult moments was witnessing the deceased and wounded comrades who made landing before him, laying all over the beach.

Henry was among the troops when Holland was liberated, and victory was declared. Mary has a photo of her late father standing beside his army tank in Holland when the war ended. In the photo was a young man who shared in the victory and was standing beside him wearing the traditional Dutch shoes.

Following the war, after serving 5 ½ years, Mary’s father returned and settled in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and succumbed to his wartime injuries at the age of 60 – a shrapnel had embedded in his hip which caused pain and consequently, cancer. Henry always donated to The Salvation Army throughout his adult years. Recognizing all the work and dedication he had seen during the war had an impact. “He believed in the mission,” says Mary. “They were everywhere – Christ’s soldiers were everywhere.”

 

By: Jan Keats