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    Default A Time Of Rememberance

    Well, That Day is fast upon us, for Canadians in particular, but also for soldiers, sailors and airmen around the world who will stop and give pause for Rememberance tomorrow, at the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month.

    Some will remember grandfathers, uncles and brothers who answered the Call of Their Country and went to war some 69 years ago, others to remember the memory of those who went before, almost 100 years ago. Some will pause to remember fallen comrades of more recent times, maybe as recently as "Yesterday".

    I will be one of the Many who will stand on a Parade Square, mumbling about the cold and the wind (projected temp for tomorrow in Borden is 5dC or about 40dF, with the Standard 10mph winds) but I will also be there with my Comrades, remembering the Friends I have lost to far away places like Yugoslavia, Bosnia or Afghanistan. And the friends, whom I know are Out There still, with both of us wishing they were Here, rather than Over There. I will remember my Grandfather (maternal) who volunteered in 1939, and who never really talked about his war experiences, except to remember the good or the funny things of his time overseas.

    Thoughts for those who I have known, and who have Passed Before me, and prayers to the Families of those I did not, and will never know. Equally important will be thoughts for those of the Emergency Services around the world, and their families who have made the Greatest Sacrifice known to Man.

    May You Rest in Peace and Harmony, and Never Be Forgotten by those who follow.

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    Women change veterans' image. Gender no issue in today's warfare

    Ethan Baron, Canwest News Service Published: Monday, November 10, 2008

    KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Canada's Remembrance Day image of a grey-haired, male veteran of the Second World War is changing fast, as the nation's soldiers wage war against the Taliban.

    With every troop rotation, the number of women who have exposed themselves to wartime death is growing. In Afghanistan, Canadian women and men work together on the front lines of the war, in combat and in support.

    Canadian Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson, commander of coalition troops in Kandahar, said the Canadian Forces don't differentiate between men and women.

    "At the end of the day we all have a job to do, and as long as you can do the job you're part of the team," Thompson said.

    For the women who serve here, the Afghan war has given new significance to the day on which Canada turns its collective thoughts to those who have fought, and those who have died.

    "Having friends, comrades pass in this war definitely has an effect on Remembrance Day now. It's a small military world, and you tend to know the ones that fall," said Cpl. Marilyn McGee of HMCS Halifax, a field medic based at the airfield.

    As of January 2007, more than 18,000 women were serving in the Canadian Forces, about 17 per cent of the total number of soldiers.

    The gender inequality promoted by the Taliban hit close to home for Dunn in September, after she met Lt.-Col. Malalai Kakar, a leading policewoman who was head of Kandahar's department of crimes against women.

    "The next day, she was killed," Dunn said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing.

    Such grim realities intensify the experience of Remembrance Day, said Pte. Karen Moorhouse, a Canadian military policewoman.

    "It really puts it in reality, the hardships people endure when they're at war," Dunn said.

    "It brings you a little bit closer, and makes you respect what the holiday's all about."

    © Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008

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    Poetry eased painful wounds of war Survivor of trench warfare used writing to convey horrors and camaraderie

    Michael D. Reid, Times Colonist Published: Monday, November 10, 2008

    In his Canadian war movie Passchendaele, Paul Gross -- in his role as shellshocked soldier Michael Dunne -- suggests battlefields such as the hellish, mud-drenched terrain of the title aren't places swarming with poets.

    A number of classic poems -- perhaps most famously In Flanders Fields, written in 1915 by Canadian physician John MacRae -- would, of course, emerge from the carnage of the First World War.

    For Jenus Friesen, a Times Colonist staff member, the fact her grandfather, the late Robert T. Anderson, was one such poet who fought in France and Belgium from 1914 to 1918, made watching Passchendaele especially moving.

    "You could see him in that movie," Friesen, 50, said. "It was too horrible. There were things almost too hard for him to say."

    Anderson, born in Rapid City, Man., was a man of few words when reflecting on the horrors of trench warfare, his family says. A third-generation Scotsman, he expressed himself through poetry and in love letters to his Glaswegian fiancée Greta Grant, secretary to Alberta's minister of education until their postwar marriage in 1919 in Edmonton.

    It was near the silver mining town of Slocan, B.C., where Robert and his brothers cleared the land on the family's farm, and in Edmonton, where he moved at age 25, that Anderson cemented his reputation as a man of letters.

    His poems appeared in the Edmonton Bulletin, Edmonton Journal, the Canadian Scotsman and the Slocan Drill. His literary works were also published as books -- including The Old Timer and Other Poems (1909) and Canadian Born (1910) -- as well as in Troopers in France (1932), his compact booklet of poems reflecting his experiences with comrades-in-arms on the front.

    "He was quite a fella," recalled Ailsa Morag Evans, his Red Deer, Alta. based daughter. "He'd sit on the hay wagon to write poetry. He'd sell them for a penny to cover the cost of printing, and when he came home he put them in booklet form."

    Anderson, whose Scottish ancestors were exiled to Australia and Canada for stealing sheep, inherited a strong work ethic from his father, a baker and carpenter who had worked on trestles for the Canadian Pacific Railway, on the Banff Springs Hotel and on the chimney for the smelter in Trail.

    His father, who had a restaurant on Granville Street in Vancouver, once built a hotel that was destroyed by fire, Evans said.

    Anderson's life was as eventful as his father's, most tragically on the day he got a call to his own home while driving a horse-drawn ambulance, Evans recalled. A fire claimed his first wife, leaving him a widower who had to send their nine-month-old-baby to live with his sister until his marriage to Grant.

    Before and after the war, he worked as a quarantine officer with the health department in Edmonton for 36 years, retiring at age 72. He was a dispatch rider and member of Lord Strathcona's Horse on Edmonton's south side (it later became the 19th Alberta Dragoons).

    Evans said her father was 34 when Maj.-Gen. William Griesbach took him overseas Oct. 12, 1914. "He wasn't much of a soldier by his own admission," she recalled. "He sort of lumbered around. He couldn't march. They trained him in Quebec, but they'd take anybody standing. He was too old for that terrible war."

    Although he was promoted to corporal, she said her father didn't like to boss other men around and would not wear his stripes. {my grandfather was of a similar mind during WWII - promoted to Sgt but refused to wear them}

    "He didn't want that responsibility maybe," she theorized. "He pinned them on like a horse pin."

    Still, he was cited three times for bravery and received the Victoria Medal, and bore physical and emotional scars thereafter.

    He was gassed twice, developed psoriasis all over his body and was haunted by horrors.

    "He watched an officer line up his men to do battle, which made it easy for the Germans to shoot," she said. "They were mowed down. He never got over that."

    She said he once gave his gas mask to another man who had three kids, and never reported to sick parade.

    Evans recalls that her father "couldn't run for a streetcar" when he came home, and that he coughed for the rest of his life.

    Although he only had a Grade 4 education, Robert T. Anderson was a man of keen intellect. His poetry -- including the popular Church Parade -- was his passion and salvation, and a way to eloquently convey his memories of combat.


    - - -


    I've dug up this lot from my kit-bag,

    Old mem'ries of days "Out There,"

    If there's interest for old time comrades

    That's all that I really care.

    These few have eluded the Censor,

    The Critic they may not evade --

    But if they reach Pals in hospital wards,

    I'll feel that I'm more than repaid.

    Here's to you, old pals, who still suffer,

    And should they but bring you a smile,

    Or lighten one hour when you're lonely,

    I'll know that my verse is worth while.

    - - -


    They rounded us up for Church Parade

    And the Sky Pilot took us in tow,

    He said the Lord was on our side --

    And I guess he ought to know

    He quite het up to his discourse

    (Which wasn't what you'd call tame)

    An' I kind of feel for the Jerry Boys

    Who are playing a losing game

    There's quite a flock of these pilot birds

    That follows us round abouts,

    And I haven't a doubt but lots of them

    Are pretty decent scouts,

    There may be truth in the hot stuff

    What them Padres, at times, orate,

    But there ain't no call for us

    common bucks

    To be singin' no Hymns of Hate.

    Now, Church Parade is optional,

    But nary a Buck declines,

    For those that are left are Catholics

    A cleanin' up the lines,

    And when the Dogans do their stunts

    It's up to the Protestant League --

    The Mormons, the Jews, and the Gentiles,

    To do the extra fatigue.

    So that's why I here a listenin'

    To what this Reverand can tell,

    How we're on the road to Heaven

    And Fritz on the road to Hell;

    And then we're shoutin' our War song

    We've sung so often before --

    About Onward you Christian Soldats

    A marchin' into the War.

    Now, we've been up to the front lines

    And took our chances in Hell.

    And we haven't no love for the Kaiser

    And Krupp's and Co. as well;

    But tho' we are straffing the Kaiser's troops,

    It's only fair to state,

    We haven't much time upon either side

    To be singing Hymns of Hate.

    © Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008

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    Child's curiosity uncovers tragic Canadian tale. Belgian officer tracks down story of Victoria pilot who died in Nazi concentration camp

    Jack Knox, Times Colonist Published: Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    It's debatable which is more remarkable, the story of the Victoria pilot who died after being shipped to a Nazi concentration camp, or the fact that it was left to a Belgian air force officer to tell the tale.

    The pilot was Teddy Blenkinsop, who, sick and starving, perished in January 1945.

    The Belgian is Peter Celis, whose boyhood curiosity about a Canadian's memorial marker led to a 24-year research project culminating in a book on Blenkinsop's life.

    Born in 1920 to a prominent Victoria family -- it's where Blenkinsop Road gets its name -- Edward W. Blenkinsop attended Craigflower and Monterey elementary schools, excelled as a swimmer, graduated second in his class at Oak Bay High. An apprentice accountant when the war broke out, he enlisted in the RCAF in 1940 and ended up piloting 30 bomber missions out of North Africa in 1943.

    His star rose with a Pathfinder squadron leading raids out of England in 1944. His boyhood friend and commanding officer, the late Reg Lane (another highly decorated Victorian), later wrote that Blenkinsop was the "obvious choice" to take over the squadron.

    But it was Lane himself who saw Blenkinsop's Lancaster, returning from a raid over southern Germany, burst into flames after being attacked by a Messerschmitt night fighter piloted by the German ace Johannes Hager. "It was with horror and shock that I watched him shot down," Celis quotes Lane as saying. "I was able to identify his plane by the colour of the pyrotechnics that blew up as his plane exploded. His and my airplanes were the only two carrying that colour."

    In a piece written for Airforce Magazine, Celis describes how Blenkinsop, blown clear of the cockpit by the explosion, was the only survivor. The remains of the Lancaster came down on the Belgian village of Webbekom.

    Blenkinsop was picked up by members of the Belgian resistance, who risked their lives to save his. Four farm families took turns hiding him for a week or two each before, in July 1944, he was taken in by a family in the rural town of Meensel-Kiezegem.

    Sadly, Blenkinsop was caught, almost by accident, when German and Flemish SS troops raided the town that August in retaliation for the killing of one of their own. Four villagers were killed and 91 arrested; 71 of them, including Blenkinsop, were shipped to the Neuengamme concentration camp in Germany. Only eight survived the war.

    Blenkinsop, accused by the Gestapo of co-operating with the resistance, was denied his rights as a prisoner of war. Pressed into forced labour in the shipyards and arms factories around Hamburg, his health failed during the winter of 1944. "Lacking medical care and adequate food . . . he died completely exhausted in January 1945," wrote Celis. Blenkinsop was cremated in the ovens of the Bergen-Belsen death camp, his ashes scattered as fertilizer.

    But he wasn't forgotten. A grave marker in Meensel-Kiezegem bears his name. Celis, now 41, remembers accompanying his grandfather to the cemetery as a boy of nine or 10, remembers asking why one of the headstones bore a different flag. It was a Canadian pilot, he was told. Celis kept pestering his grandfather for more answers, finally ended up, at age 17, writing the Canadian Embassy.
    That was the beginning of a 24-year project that resulted this year in the publication of The One Who Almost Made It Back: The Remarkable Story of One of World War Two's Unsung Heroes, Sqn Ldr Edward Teddy Blenkinsop, DFC, CdeG (Belge), RCAF.

    Celis credits many Canadians, including Blenkinsop's cousins Brig. Gen. John Neroutsos and Dr. Philip Neroutsos, with helping him, but the fact remains that it was a Belgian who kept this Canadian's story alive.

    Victoria's Atholl Sutherland Brown, another RCAF pilot who survived being wounded in the Second World War, says the Blenkinsop story is "very poorly known" here. Even Sutherland Brown, whose older brother Ian -- who also died in the war -- used to chum around with Blenkinsop, didn't know the tale until Lane told it to him about 10 years ago.

    Happily, not everyone has forgotten Victoria's Teddy Blenkinsop. On Nov. 1, All Saints Day, the people of Meensel-Kiezegem put fresh flowers on his headstone, just as they do every year, just as they'll do again today.


    © Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

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    Excerps from "Letters Home" during WWII:

    There is a possibility of getting away from here, which I detest, and becoming an instructor at the [officer cadet training unit]. Heyes is my company commander and since becoming a major has become worse than he was. It's amazing how a crown on the shoulder promotes the growth of bone between the ears. He is called “Little Caesar” or “Little Jesus” as he has delusions of grandeur. So if this other job goes through, I'll be quite happy.

    ...I'd suggest that you still address my mail to the unit as they always know where I am, but this place is hopeless. They can't even keep track of people who never leave camp and mail is snarled up unbelievably.

    In fact, in all my life I've never seen anything so badly mismanaged and inefficiently run as this place. If I were to express myself fully and give examples, and if the censors saw the letter, I'd probably be shot at sunrise. It would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that the men here may have to fight some time this year and they are absolutely untrained. Not only that but they are being taught things that bitter experience has shown the British army the futility of. The only hope is that they have long enough with the field units before seeing action to be trained. Failing that, I pity them....
    From the same Officer, in a different letter:

    The other incident is one which I hope the C.O. will forget before I get back because it concerns my running of the H.Q. Wing. I've been Company Commander of Bn. H.Q. On Thursday last, just before we left on the scheme, one of our former bad boys who is at present in the process of being transferred to the American Army asked me for an overnight pass. He said he wanted to go back to our former area to pay a debt to some civilians who had befriended him while we were there. He was not going on the scheme as his final papers are due any day and the C.O. wants to get rid of him. Anyway I was soft hearted and gave him the pass. He only had to go about eight miles but he couldn't get back that night. Anyway he was arrested, drunk, in London and brought back under escort Friday morning. He doesn't know how he got there or anything after having had a few drinks while in the town he had a pass for. That will probably be his alibi and he has his railway stub to prove that he did go there originally. But the C.O. may take a very low view of my issuing the pass. Anyway by the time this course is over he should be safely in the Yankee army. I hope so.

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