Memories of The Salvation Army During Wartime

by larisa
Categories: Uncategorized

    From Normandy’s beaches 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. One always stood out to her—the work of The Salvation Army.

    “There was no conscription to join the Canadian forces for the Second World War,” Mary recalls her late father explaining to her. He registered for one reason, his daughter’s future. “This is the best country in the world for a little girl to grow up in,” he’d say.

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

    “Volunteers could be seen on horse-drawn carts carrying food and supplies for the soldiers”

    At age 35, Henry was considerably older than most young men who signed up. When he enlisted at a British Enlistment Barrack, he feared he would be too old for acceptance, so he lied about his age on the form, declaring he was in his 20s. He joined forces in Montreal and was assigned to Debert, Nova Scotia, for training, followed by Halifax, where he prepared to go 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.

    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 was on every street corner,” she says. “Everywhere he looked, volunteers could be seen on horse-drawn carts 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 ship before they could disembark because there were so many. Henry referred to it as a “tin can” because it was tossed around in the strong waves resulting in many soldiers becoming seasick. One of the most challenging moments for Henry was witnessing the deceased and wounded soldiers who made landing before him.

    “The Salvation Army was everywhere—Christ’s soldiers were everywhere”

    Henry was among the troops when Holland was liberated, and victory was declared. 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—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. “The Salvation Army was everywhere—Christ’s soldiers were everywhere.”