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Wetcoaster

Lest We Forget

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In peacetime, sons bury their fathers. In war the fathers bury their sons.

They are not forgotten. I just wish people would think about that level of sacrifice. People have died in hopes of making the world a better place. I wish people instead of worrying how many millions of dollars they have, that they'd put that kind of commitment to making the world a better place.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dL_PRlf89ys

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This is a song I play on Remembrance Day .. I lost 4 Uncles because of WWII .. in total, 9 Uncles fought .. my Mom lost 2 of her 3 brothers, including her twin .. lest we forget, war IS hell ..

Thanks to all who keep this meaningful ..

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CBC has a series honouring those who served.

Remembering our heroes

Jim Moffat flew for the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War. He shares his memories on air with CBC's Michael Serapio.

http://www.cbc.ca/pl.../ID/2303026361/

And in Ottawa today:

Canadians across the country and around the world are honouring nation's veterans today, a tribute to the men and women who fought for — and in many cases died for — the freedoms cherished by all.

Thousands of people gathered in Ottawa for the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial at Confederation Square on Parliament Hill.

The ceremony began with the singing of Canada’s anthem, followed by the lonely bugle call of the
Last Post
as the crowd stood silent for two minutes, broken by the blast of artillery and then the mournful playing of a bagpipe. Soon after, the Canadian Snowbirds flew overhead, followed by speeches and a 21-gun salute.

"Today, we feel keenly the pain and sorrow around us," intoned Brig. Gen Karl McLean, Chaplain General of the Canadian Forces.

The laying of the wreaths, lead by Governor General David Johnston, was then backed by a full bagpipe band playing
Amazing Grace
and a children's choir.

Rabbi Reuven Balka, the honorary chaplain of the military command, was given the responsibility of the event's benediction: "May those who die be remembered lovingly. May those who were injured be healed in body and spirit. May those who serve and continue to serve live their lives in a world free of terror and suffused with tranquility."

Balka ended his speech by urging the crowd to shout out "Thank you veterans" — which the crowd did.

"Marvelous, marvelous," one elderly veteran in a wheelchair told CBC News his reaction to the ceremony.

Asked about his time battling enemy airplanes in the south of England during the Second World War, Mervin Jones —who was part of an artillery unit and only in his early 20s at the time — still wonders how he survived: "I can't understand why I'm here. It was hell, hell. But it wasn't my time."

Jones also made a promise: "You know I will be back here next year, eh?"

Among those in attendance was Roxanne Priede, who is this year's National Silver Cross Mother. Her son, Master Corporal Darrell Jason Priede, died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2007. Priede shed tears as she lay a wreath at the base of the war memorial.

The Royal Canadian Legion picks a National Silver Cross Mother every year to attend the national service in Ottawa on behalf of all Canadian mothers who have lost children in the service to their country.

The ceremony was completed with the Governer General greeting and shaking hands with veterans in the crowd as hundreds of veterans did a march past around the memorial

CBC video highlights of the Ottawa services:

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/ID/2303047478/

Prime Minster Harper is overseas and attended services in Hong Kong. This has significance as Canadian soldiers were serving as part of the British Forces Overseas Hong Kong including the Royal Rifles of Canada from Quebec and Winnipeg Grenadiers from Manitoba and brigade HQ (1,975 personnel). 1689 Canadians were captured after a fierce 18 day battle with the Japanese and sent to a number of notorious Japanese POW camps. Of the Canadians captured during the battle, 267 subsequently perished in Japanese prisoner of war camps, mainly due to mistreatment and abuse.

XKC115-Hong+Kong+Canada.jpg

Overseas, Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended a Remembrance Day ceremony in Hong Kong at the Sai Wan Bay War Cemetery.

During the Second World War, nearly 2,000 Canadians took part in the Battle of Hong Kong which raged for 18 days in December 1941.

"By their deaths, they made possible the freedom we enjoy, the democracy by which we govern ourselves, and the justice under which we live," Harper said.

Harper recalled the heroics of William Lore, who died recently at age 103, and the "courageous, desperate and bloody defence" of Hong Kong.

Lore, then a sub-lieutenant, led a platoon of marines to free Canadian, British and Hong Kong prisoners of war from the notorious Sham Shui Po Camp in August 1945.

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The other day, on the Kristallnacht anniversary, I saw a speech by one who survived one of the death camps and was there on liberation day. He said he couldn't even get the energy to stand up at that point, and most of the soldiers passed him by. I guess he gathered his energy, and reached out to one soldier who must have been shocked to see him (the man weighed about 85-90 pounds at that point, and was presumed to be dead by all who passed him).

The soldier who noticed him took it upon himself to make sure the man received the attention he needed, and he's--obviously--still alive today, sharing his story about the awful things he has seen and experienced, and the man who saved his life when the others passed him by (the two became and remained very close friends)

It's really difficult to think about the things those soldiers witnessed. It's even more difficult to think about what went on in the camps they liberated. It's difficult, but when we try, I'm pretty sure it's the single most compelling anti-war argument one can muster.

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The other day, on the Kristallnacht anniversary, I saw a speech by one who survived one of the death camps and was there on liberation day. He said he couldn't even get the energy to stand up at that point, and most of the soldiers passed him by. I guess he gathered his energy, and reached out to one soldier who must have been shocked to see him (the man weighed about 85-90 pounds at that point, and was presumed to be dead by all who passed him).

The soldier who noticed him took it upon himself to make sure the man received the attention he needed, and he's--obviously--still alive today, sharing his story about the awful things he has seen and experienced, and the man who saved his life when the others passed him by (the two became and remained very close friends)

It's really difficult to think about the things those soldiers witnessed. It's even more difficult to think about what went on in the camps they liberated. It's difficult, but when we try, I'm pretty sure it's the single most compelling anti-war argument one can muster.

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I have the utmost respect for the Veterans, those passed and still living. To land onto a beach in France, knowing well that you will probably die there... just so the man behind you can get farther up the beach. It is the ultimate sacrifice a human being can offer, to lay down their life for their brothers and their country to uphold freedom. They are more manly then I will EVER be.

Lest we forget.

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Interesting article of a British glider pilot, Jim Wallwork who now lives in White Rock, BC and was the first to set foot on French soil on D-Day leading the six gliders on the Pegasus Bridge Raid that kicked off D-Day and the invasion of Normandy.

On June 6, 1944, an armada of 6,500 ships and 171 squadrons of warplanes supported 130,000 troops who clawed out a toehold on a stretch of French beach called Normandy. That was the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany — just as Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, had feared, they could not be pushed off, and a million more men came behind.The organization of this monumental and delicately co-ordinated Allied effort was complex. Synchronization and performance had to be near perfect. Jim Wallwork delivered all that.

Wallwork was the first member of the Allied invasion force to set foot on French soil on D-Day.

He led a group of six gliders on a midnight flight over the English Channel.

Today the English glider pilot is 93. The sea and sky that he scans now is the one outside his White Rock home that he shares with his wife, Genevieve.

Wallwork, born in Manchester, was a rugby player for the Salford Grammar School. Sport was fun for “Handsome Jim” as he was known. But there was a day, frozen in memory, that ­tested every joke and every bit of teamwork he’d ever known — June 6, 1944.

In the summer of 1939, Wallwork signed up for military service before the outbreak of war. “You could smell it coming,” he recalled in a recent interview. His father, an artillery sergeant in the First World War, advised: “Anything but the infantry — in fact the further back, the better.”

“I joined the war to cover myself with glory,” Wallwork recalls with a straight face, “and medals, and free beer for the duration, surrounded by adoring females.”

He applied to the Royal Air Force’s Glider Regiment, where he was immediately accepted “as one of Brigadier George Chatterton’s lunatics.” The unit was sent to North Africa to train and to demonstrate the effectiveness of placing commandos silently behind enemy lines.

“Our first encounter [in Italy] was a sad reflection,” Wallwork recalled. “Many of our gliders hit the sea before land, because the tug pilots released us too early.”

He and three others just made it to the landing area, where they were met with determined Italian resistance. Wallwork noted, tongue firmly in cheek: “The Italians were rotten shots.”

His unit was taken home to England for Christmas, 1943, and he was chosen to pilot the squadron’s No. 1 glider. His co-pilot was a good friend, Johnnie Ainsworth, and they began a new training program with the uncomfortable name of Deadstick.

Intensive training for D-Day

On a stretch of southwest English countryside, six glider crews practised target landings on an L-shaped field called Holmes Clump. They repeated the drill — landing on this angled field 42 times — until the landscape, the timing, the speed, and every turn was etched into their minds.

Secrecy was of the utmost importance, Wallwork remembered, “because surprise was the trump card.” So a wall of silence surrounded this special unit, even though everyone knew that a massive landing was in the cards — if only the stormy spring weather would let up.

Training operation Deadstick came to an end, to be replaced by an epic assignment named Operation Tonga, in which six crews, led by Wallwork’s Horsa glider, nicknamed Lady Irene, were ready to invade France.

They were to take two bridges just six miles south of Caen. These were the Canal Bridge, later to be known as Pegasus after the mythological winged horse displayed on the shoulder emblems worn by British airborne forces, and the Orne River Bridge, a few hundred yards to the east. The two waterways ran parallel to each other and flowed south-to-north into the English Channel.

These important targets had to be captured intact and kept secure — which meant that someone in the advance party had to disable the explosives certain to be present in the case of a forced retreat.

Wallwork was in the lead plane with his pal Johnnie. They had been asked to wipe out existing bunkers and barriers of barbed wire, giving the 30 commandos on board the glider an obstacle-free run at the bridge.

“The Allied forces — Brits, Canadians, Americans, Poles, Free French, Belgians, Greeks, Netherlanders and Norwegians — prepared for the battle of their lives. They had to get ashore,” Wallwork said

“The tugs pulled us to 6,000 feet — above the weather. It was a midnight crossing in a rugby-dressing-room atmosphere with songs and jokes.

“Thanks to our tug crew we were dead on time and dead on target, and I saw the French coast in plenty of time to get set. Five, four, three, two, one. Cheers! I cut loose! Up with the nose to reduce speed.”

That was when the singing stopped, as the 180 commandos aboard six gliders got ready for the last 20 miles of silent flight.

At 90 mph the Orne River and the Caen Canal came into view in the moonlight as two silver streaks. Wallwork’s No. 1 glider whispered between them, favouring the right bank of the Orne, while getting ready for the wide turn to the west and the enemy waiting at Pegasus Bridge.

Wallwork swept past the two target bridges, continuing his wide turn back to the north, following precisely the timing and procedures practised at Holmes Clump.

“With full flap and touchdown, we streamed the ’chute, then jettisoned it after two seconds. Ainsworth and I were now plowing the field, heading for the embankment. We removed a couple of barbed-wire fences and arrived as required at, or rather in, the embankment . . . exactly one minute later, number 2 arrived, followed by number 3 — justifying all those Deadstick training flights.

“Not long afterwards, we all confessed to feeling rather pleased with ourselves at having pulled it off. This, when June 6 was 20 minutes old, and our little battle was just starting.

'The greatest flying feat of the Second World War'

“Air Chief Marshal [sir Trafford] Leigh-Mallory, commanding the Allied air forces on D-Day, was nice enough to call it ‘the greatest flying feat of the Second World War.’”

Wallwork and Johnnie were both injured in the landing — the weight too much for the forward wheel. Wallwork had a nasty head cut and Johnnie a broken ankle, but the German guards were now awake to the realization that they were being attacked.

Wallwork saw that his co-pilot was taken away by the medics, and then began carting out the ammunition for the glider troops as they successfully took control of both bridges.

The arrival of a German tank caused alarm, especially when Wallwork, peppered with near misses from a German Schmeisser light machine gun in the hands of a nervous Hitler Jugend, could not find the anti-tank Gammon bombs in the dark.

By 0300 the parachute brigade arrived as reinforcements, and things settled down. By 1300 next afternoon, Lord Lovat brought in his commandos, led by piper Bill Millin playing The Black Bear.

“It was always a comfort to be surrounded by good troops,” Wallwork said.

After recovering from his injuries in an English hospital, Wallwork knew that his next assignment, operation Varsity would likely be his last. For this assignment, more than 16,000 troops flew in gliders across the River Rhine, the last great obstacle on the road to Berlin.

Wallwork received the Distinguished Flying Medal for his work at Pegasus Bridge. He has been back to Normandy many times to meet his mates, and revisit that greatest day of the twentieth century. He used to march in Remembrance Day parades, but this year the 93-year-old plans to watch the ceremonies on television.

Wallwork’s final word on his war years: “It was a short, sharp, good clean way to go to war. I don’t think any of us would change a thing.”

http://www.theprovince.com/news/White+Rock+glider+pilot+first+land+Normandy/7527580/story.html#ixzz2Bx54i8o9

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