Canadian forces busier than ever

In today’s paper, we are telling the story of two men who left the district to join the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Navy.
Both returned to Fort Frances, raised families, and seldom ever told the stories of their lives in the Second World War.
Stan Ward and his wife, Millie, raised four sons just down the street from me. He was my Cub master and although I knew that he had been in the air force during the war, I did not understand what he endured.
He was much a quiet, soft-spoken gentleman.
I never really knew Jean Camirand, who had joined the Canadian Navy, although I did know at least one son who was in high school at the same time as me.
He and his wife raised five children in Fort Frances.
Stan’s oldest son, Doug, who was a writer for the Vancouver Sun, was able to sit down with his father in 2001 and coax the story that is in today’s paper. It is a remarkable story.
We can’t imagine what it must have been like for his parents and siblings to learn that a son/or brother had been killed. Nor can I imagine the relief his family felt on learning that Stan was a prisoner of war held by the Germans.
Allison Barron, in her book “Captured Memories,” tells the story of many different district people and their experiences in the war. Jean Camirand recounted his experiences aboard HMSC Whitby patrolling the North Atlantic while shepherding convoys on 40-day runs across the North Atlantic.
It was cold bitter work. Having toured the HMCS Sackville Museum in Halifax Harbour, I can relate to the coldness. Without insulation, the cold Atlantic waters transferred the freezing water temperatures into the interior.
Those on watch stood on open upper decks with little to protect themselves from the sprays and huge waves that could touch even the highest decks.
With fewer and fewer veterans of that war still alive, it is important to have their wartime experiences recorded so future generations can understand the sacrifices our men and women endured during the Second World War.
Similarly, we have many veterans from the Korean War and Canada’s United Nations’ peacekeeping missions around the world.
On Monday, I went on the National Defence website and went through all of the operations involving Canadian troops, seamen, and airmen around the world.
We continue to have trainers in Iraq working with the Kurdish militia. Canada has an air task force in Iraq supporting coalition air operations. We have personnel in the Ukraine.
We have ships operating in the Baltic Sea, the eastern Pacific, the Caribbean Sea, and the Red Sea.
As Canadians, we may tend to believe that since our fighting action in Afghanistan was over, our Canadian forces would have no purpose. In fact, they are busier than ever.
Future generations will ask about our commitments to world security and will want to hear the stories about individuals who participated in far-ranging locations around the world—just as we can read and understand the commitment of Stan Ward and Jean Camirand.

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