In honour of Remembrance Day, we asked students and staff to submit their photos and short stories of family members who served in the military. Photos could be pictures of your relative, memorabilia, or commemorative items —whichever they felt most comfortable with sharing.
Today, we share these images and stories in honour of those who served and continue to serve our country. A massive thank you to the Sprott Shaw community for being willing to share your stories and make this possible.
Everything featured below is presented as was provided with only small tweaks for clarity purposes and the removal of last names for privacy reasons.
James (Jim) Gillespie A. joined the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) in the Spring of 1942 and was trained as a Pilot but then became a flight navigator.
A navigator guides pilots to the target – tells the crew where to drop the bombs.
He flew with his crew in the Halifax II NP947. During one of their earlier missions, they realized a German Fighter plane was flying with them with a plan to blow up the runway when they turned the lights on.
They radioed ahead to the ground crew who then lit up a fake runway.
After the Germans bombed the fake one and headed back thinking they had destroyed their runway, the ground crew lit up the proper one and they landed safely.
On their 16th mission, radar was being developed. So they carried boxes of aluminum foil cut into strips. When they thought the Germans were picking them up on radar, they threw out the strips of aluminum to throw off the German’s radar.
They flew 18 missions – but were shot down on the 18th mission (January 12, 1945) over Denmark.
They were dropping sea mines into the Atlantic Ocean when they were hit, and the pilot maneuvered to get them over land before they parachuted out.
Compasses were not overly developed at this time, when they flew at night they used the stars for direction – most flights were at night to protect them from being seen.
The crew parachuted out of the plane (caterpillar club medal pictured here), none of his crew survived except him.
James was captured by the Germans and became a POW (Prisoner of War), from there he was taken to Frankfurt and locked in a 6’x8’ room and interrogated.
The Germans wanted to know where they were dropping the bombs, but he wouldn’t tell them.
Jan 1945 he was transferred to Nuremberg – there were 200 British and 2000 American POWs.
April 29, 1945 they were liberated by the American forces from General Patton’s army.
The following is the telegram that was sent to his wife saying that the Canadian Government was pleased to advise that your husband, flying officer James Gillespie A., previously a prisoner of war, has been liberated and arrived safely in the United Kingdom May Tenth.
(James is in the front row, far left seated)
William Robert H. ( Bob) born Feb. 21 , 1927
Joined the army at age 16 in 1943, but because of his age he was not sent over seas to fight in WWII. After the war, he enlisted in the Permanent Force.
He served 25 years with the Royal Canadian Engineers. He was assigned to many Postings across Canada and one Deployment to Egypt in 1963 as part of the U.N. Emergency Force. He retired in 1973 as a Master Warrant Officer (MWO) after teaching at the school at C.F.B. Chilliwack.
Served in World War 2, 1939-1945
Served with the Army, while in combat he had lost his leg.
He continued his life and learned how to live with one leg until he passed in 1969.
Famous world war II saying, “We Can ..We will…We must!!
I’ve included a collage photo of my grandfather who served in WW2 as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, he passed away 10 years ago from esophageal cancer, lived a long happy life but didn’t talk about the war much.
My dad who served in the Canadian armed forces for several years but was lucky to not have been assigned outside of Canada, and my son who is currently a Flag Party Commander and sergeant, for our local squadron of the Royal Canadian air cadets.
1st photo: My granddaughter Shayla having graduated as a paramedic. My son Robert H. giving a demonstration at the firehall on kitchen safety. There is a stove outside. Beside him is his son Zach making sure everyone is paying attention
2nd photo: My son Robert and daughter-in-law Ashleigh. Husband and wife volunteer firefighters for over 10 years
3rd photo: My husband Martin H. Retired Warrant Officer after 40 years of service with 12 Service Battalion.
4th photo: My son Robert H. giving a demonstration at the firehall on kitchen safety. There is a stove outside. Beside him is his son Zach making sure everyone is paying attention
These are photos of my husband, military veteran, MCpl. Michel (Mike) B. He served from 2000-2013. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008-2009 on Roto 6. Very proud of him and his service to our country, all those that have served, continue to serve, and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
My daughter Jesse R. is a Practical Nurse student on the Victoria campus. Jesse is a Metis woman who was born and raised in the Northwest Territories. At the age of 18, she enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy and served 4 years on the Esquimalt base. Jesse was a Boatswain who worked incredibly hard, and was awarded Sailor of the Year for the Esquimalt base in 2021, prior to starting college in July 2022.
Lana H.’s son, Sgt Matthew H., has served in the Canadian Armed Forces since 2006. He enlisted in Nanaimo with the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s) Army reserves, deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, became a regular force member of the First Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) in 2014, and deployed to Poland in 2016, where he met his wife, Ania. Today, he is posted in Wainwright with Ania and their two children. He is an instructor of infantry recruits and leadership candidates there.
My grandfather, Gord E., served on the HMCS Carl Place, a river class frigate. They escorted submarines and convoys. Gord actually lost some of his hearing serving. I believe a torpedo jammed and exploded and he was near by. Prior to that, he had been on the bridge with the captain but for awhile he was totally deaf and so he could not hear commands. He got put on deck on lookout. He was one of many prairie boys that joined the navy. He was proud of his service and I am proud of him as well.
As we memorialize our loved ones who served in the first two world wars, It’s a sickening reality that humanity could experience yet another. Witnessing the brutal slaughter that has escalated in the Middle East, it seems the last century has created more power hungry and entitled leaders who think killing humans is justified for greedy means. We need desperately to find a better way rooted in the knowledge that no one is superior of another – that we are all one human family.
My grandfather, Harold T. Sr., served in WW1 and my uncle Frank T. in WW2. Fortunately they both survived and were able to return home, but not without significant injury and trauma.
I honour their memory today by sharing my grandfathers photo and medals, and part of my uncle’s story about all of the shrapnel he came home with in his body, and the tank he drove. As a young boy, my father remembers watching his dad (my grandfather) shaving at the sink, and seeing his medals tucked away in his shaving kit.
May we find a way for all to enjoy the right to peace.
My Mother and Father-in-law (Iris and Arthur W.) served in the WRAF and the RAF (British Airforce), met on base and got married in wartime. Finding that the homes for heroes never materialized they emigrated to Canada post war.
(Only Images Provided)
This is a poem my son wrote about Remembrance Day when he was 13 years old. It was published back then. Thought I would share. He’s 23 now.