Sunday, July 22, 2007


This is an open Blog to anyone who wants to share their WW2 stories!

I want to share your World War 2 stories to the world!

I have so much respect for our veterans that i have decided to share your stories. Yes, you the blog reader. If you are a World War 2 veteran or know of anyone who is a World War two veteran please let me know and i will post your blog for free! If you are a Canadian, British or American veteran or anyone who has participated in any other Country that was part of the Allied Forces in World War 2 or know of someone who participated in any World War 2 battle or activity please let me know! I will gladly post your request upon revision if i feel you have well documented the information you have sent to me and if you sent me at least two photographs of the veteran in question to be posted on my blog!

I want to be an open blog and when ever i can i will gladly post a story of yourself the veteran or of the person you know! I will continue of course to post my World War 2 blogs but from time to time i will gladly post your blogs also.

Please feel free to write at and i will gladly get in touch with you at the earliest convenience. Please make sure to leave me your name and email address!

Any postings that will be done on my blog will be sent to you before publishing for your final approval!

Thank you very much!
Cousin 1924

Friday, July 20, 2007

A tribute to my father Vincent Desjardins and all our veterans

A tribute to my father Vincent Desjardins and all our veterans

I always considered my father to be a great man. He always wanted the best for his family. He worked hard and was very honest with everyone. As a young boy during the depression of the 1930's life was hard. My grandparents never had much food and work was scarce. Although my grandfather was able to make ends meet life was tough. I remember my grandfather as the mirror of my father looking just like my dad. Same height, same stature and the same attitude towards life. My grandmother was a brave woman because in the Quebec of the 1930's life was tough and very often you had to raise 10 sometimes to 20 and more. The parents of the 1930's and 1940's were brave and i admire them for what they did. Raise children with morals and values. I truly love having learned so much from my parents. My mom was such a wonderful woman. So patient and gentle and full of wisdom and faith. I am truly blessed to have great parents.

As a young boy my father told me of his was wartime stories in World War 2. My father tried to enlist in 1939 at sixteen but was turned down by the Canadian Army for his young age. Then enlisted at 17 in Quebec City at the Citadele and joined the army with the Royal 22nd regiment. I am very proud of the Royal 22nd Regiment the Vandoos who are serving now in Afghanistan. Like the rest of the Canadian Army, they are to be admired and respected.

My father wanted to join the Canadian army not to go to war and fight people. My father wanted to join the army to help my grandparents earn a living. Like i said times were tough and at Christmas when the Christmas gifts that Santa would bring to the children back in those days would be an orange or maybe an apple and not much more than a fruit. That's how things were back in the depression era. This is why my father joined the army. To help his parent's make ends meet and feed the family because there weren't too many jobs around back in those days. During the 1940's people had a great interest and pride in their patriotism's. So my father joined the army and had his training done in Borden, Ontario, Canada and afterward's was transferred to England on a troop carrier a civilian ship (The Queen Mary, converted into a troop carrier for the war effort) in 1942. My father was trained as a soldier but also as a mechanic and ambulance driver. My father wanted to have more than just one trade. He wanted to be a soldier but also a mechanic and help his fellow soldiers as an ambulance driver. More training followed in England but my dad was getting anxious to see action like thousands of other Canadians waiting in England to see action. The year 1942 came and went and so did 1943. My dad was getting trucks and jeeps readied for the war effort that would be needed to be sent to France eventually but when D day finally came along my father was still stationed in England fixing trucks and seeing his friends go on to the shores of France after June 6Th, 1944. I remember my dad telling me that he was getting quite impatient because he wanted to see action to help free the world of Fascism's and tyranny.

One day an officer came up to my father and to my father's surprise the officer told my dad that he was transferred from the Royal 22nd regiment to The Calgary Higlanders. My father was surprised because he taught that he would fight with the Royal 22nd regiment but was transferred with the Calgary Highlanders. Well my dad did not mind, he was after all with Canadians but the only thing is that he was with English speaking Canadians. You see my father is French Canadian and joined with a French Canadian Regiment and to his surprise was being transferred with guys from western Canada. My dad being from Quebec did not speak much English back in his young days. (This was only normal being from Quebec). He became fluently bilingual afterwards. My dad was in for a surprise because when he arrived with the Calgary Highlanders he felt he was treated like a king! Imagine, the only French Canadian soldier in his platoon with English speaking soldiers. My dad loved it! To his friends in his platoon he was called Frenchie. Then one day in September of 1944 army headquarters told my father and his friends, boys this is it. You are going in to France as reinforcements. My father arrived in France on September 29th,1944 and fought in Northern Europe until September 27, 1945. Also my father was part of the Royal Highland Regiment from September 21, 1945 to September 27, 1945 thus only for one week.

I do remember my father telling me stories that are not funny and sad. These are the casualties of war! I am glad he told me these stories because he had to get it out of his chest! I sometimes wonder if it was myself living these episodes of history how i would have felt. I probably would have been insane after the war. You have to be strong to endure the burden of war! My father fought in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

If you like i can recall a story my father had told me before he died of cancer on May 5, 1990. My father had a military funeral from members of the Canadian Armed forces and the Royal Canadian Legion and i was overwhelmed with the feeling of appreciation for my father but i found out later why all the recognition. This is something he had never told me when he was living!
One day in early 1945 in Holland the Canadian Army were given the order to secure a small island in Holland in the middle of the night so the American Army can pass on the river banks with their Sherman tanks without being shot at by the German Army artillery. Canadian army heaquarters asked the Calgary Highlanders if they could find one hundred volunteers for a special mission. My father was one of them who volunteered. In the middle of the night the one hundred Canadian soldiers in their rubber dinghy's slipped silently on the cold river to the island to secure the shores of the island so the American Sherman tank could travel without being bombed on the other side of the river but somehow the German army were waiting for the Canadians. Someone had betrayed the Canadians and the German army were waiting for them in the middle of the night. It was a real massacre as soon as the Canadians got on the Island the German army started shooting at the Canadians. All hell broke loose. The Calgary Highlanders jumped back in the dinghy's only to be pursued by the German army. On the other side of the river banks the Canadians were running for their lives when my father was escaping with Colonel Campbell from New Brunswick. All of a sudden Colonel Campbell was hit in the leg by a bullet. He told my father, Vince i give you the order to leave me here right now at once! They will make me a Prisoner of war! I give you the order to go now! My father refused the order and instead stayed with Colonel Campbell who was injured in the bushes until the early morning hours and both were able to make it back to the Canadian lines and this made my father a hero for saving Colonel Campbell's life amongst the Calgary Highlanders and the Black Watch Regiment. My father risked being a prisoner of war or even being killed to save Colonel Campbell's life.

My father told me of very interesting stories of his days in the war and i must say that all soldiers must be remembered. Soldiers, Airmen and sailors always stand on guard for our freedom and protection and we must always remember what they have done for us and are doing now to better secure our future.

My father Vincent Desjardins died from cancer in 1990 and i must say he was a brave man who went to war to protect our freedom and democracy and we must be thankful for the millions of Canadians through history who have fought and are still fighting and have given their lives and their freedom and who are far away from their families and loved ones! Canadians are buried on all continents and in so many countries where their was tyranny and oppression. What great courage they have and have given us! Indeed they have given us our freedom! My father came back from Europe in 1946 and married my mother in 1947 and lived their lives to have three wonderful children and succeeded in raising and giving us a terrific family life.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

RCAF combat missions over occupied France in 1941

The Battle for Europe must never be forgotten. If ever we forget history it will repeat itself sooner or later in time. The Battle for Europe consisted of Hitler and the Wehrmacht wanting to invade Europe which they did and conquered a great part of it. Thus began the Battle for Europe. Poland first fell to Germany on September 1st 1939 and then France in 1940, Belgium, Holland, the Balkans and North Africa and Greece. The fighting was continued to the doorsteps of Moscow, Russia. Such a costly war in lives and resources. Hitler was gaining ground at a worrisome paste. What can be done to prevent further incursions from the Wehrmacht on European soils. Defend the Island of Britain and the free world with blood, sweat and tears. In 1940 Hitler gave the order to invade England and the name of the operation was called Sea Lion. As you have seen in my previous post, due to the tenacity of the The British, the Canadians and the Allied Airmen, Soldiers and sailors England was saved from the invasion. Now we must fight on the Shores of continental Europe and North Africa to help defeat the enemy. The RCAF has contributed greatly to the cause of freedom in Europe. In 1941 the RCAF was stationed in England to destroy any Uboats in the English channel and in the Atlantic and to cause havoc on German held territories on the European continent.

Brave Canadian and allied airmen took off from air fields in England to Attack installations in occupied territory in France and to destroy German vehicle convoys and communications but this was done at a great cost. For example, if you were flying in a Wellington Bomber or Spitfire fighter and were shot down over France there were only two options. Either you were killed by the impact of a movable machine gun mounted on the rear of Wehrmacht convoy trucks or Flak (A ground to Air Cannon aimed at aircraft's to destroy and bring you down) or you had to bail out over enemy territory which was not very encouraging for any airmen. If you were to survive the impact of the explosion on your aircraft chances were you would be wounded and you had to bail out with your parachute sometimes at night and in sometimes rather rough weather.

Bailing out in cloud cover was actually good because the enemy would have more problems spotting you as your parachute brought you down softly to the ground. Think of it this way my friend. Pretend that you are the airman that was brought down and it is you is is trying to escape the German army! Who ever is reading this article, you are in the airman's place and these are your first thoughts as you land on the ground OK, here we go! Now, i have made it thank God in am alive on French ground and as i look up to the sky Lord and Behold i see my bomber going down in flames with 4 parachutes and a sudden rush of sadness takes over the me (That's you living this, picture yourself as the airman boots on the ground in enemy territory don't forget) because you knows two of your friends inside the bomber did not have time to bail out. There should be six parachutes bailing out but there are only four to be seen. Why them and not me. We are seven on this mission! What do i hear now? My God i can hear German Shepard's barking in the distance. The airman would feel more anxiety as ever before because he knows the German army are on his tail.

(Note that the German army used German Shepard's to track airmen that were shot down because the German Shepard has a very good flair for smell and search.) I must run, i must hide, they are after me, mom please hear me, dear God don't let the German soldiers capture me otherwise what will i become. They might shoot me on the spot! Such a terrifying thought for an 18 or 19 year old kid from Toronto, Saskatoon or Quebec City, Halifax. The Airmen in the RCAF and RAF had very good training in circumstances like these. They were trained to keep their calm and remember what they were thought. First, get rid of your parachute, hide it so the German Army don't find it and then run but run silently in the forest, in the fields but do run silently and calmly and try to meet up with the members of your crew. Young man, you were sent on a mission, to destroy enemy installations and convoys but now your faith will be slim if the enemy captures you. Can i see the North star?(Aircrews were trained that if ever they were shot down over enemy territory to follow the north star because neutral territory was usually in the north? This was always depending on were the airman was shot down obviously!) It is one thirty in the morning, April 19,1941 on a clear night, it is rather cool tonight and damp. I must find my crewmen and friends. What will be of their faith in enemy territory? I saw them bailing out to the north of me. My God i still hear those German Shepard's and they seem to be getting closer, why is that. If i run i will give my position away. After all i am behind enemy lines. Then all of a sudden i hear engines, i know i recognise these airplane engines i hear above. Wellington Bombers, my God i am saved. They are flying above me at only a few hundreed feet above my head. I am here guys. Look down, just below... Well, they never saw me! They call this the rush of battle and it is also called battle Anxiety. Man, i am scared. I will follow the North Star and i will be rescued. As i am walking slowly in the forest and i feel tired and i am so hungry. I have been awake now for at least 17 hours. We took off from Skipton on Swale, England to bomb a bridge near Bordeaux France but now i am not sure exactly of where i am in France? I think i am in the region of Langon? I am cold, lost and tired. I want to sleep. I look at my watch and it is now three thirty in the morning. I sit down to catch up with my exhaustion and first thing i know i have fallen asleep on the ground only to be awaken a few minutes later by a German soldier with his K98 Mauser rifle pointing directly in my face. This is it, the war is over for me! I will only give my rank and serial number. Flight Lieutenant, Royal Canadian Air Force, serial number 4394217. Four weeks later i am sent by train to Stalag luft 3 in Sagan Eastern Germany. What as become of my colleagues i do not know! I hope they made it well? This is what happened to Canadian and allied airmen in World War 2 when they were shot down over enemy territory very often unless they had the help from the French underground.

The story is not over because you the airmen must try to escape. Your goal is not to finish the war wasting away in a prison camp. No, i shall try to escape and continue the fight for our freedom, the freedom of the free world. I will use what ever means i can to escape. Please follow my weblog because i will tell you of the true story of airmen, soldiers and sailors who tried to escape in 1943 from one of the most secure prisoner of war camps in German and based on a true story called the GREAT ESCAPE! Stay tuned!