Roots to the Past
Not Just Another Day in History
Diana Lynn Tibert
Sixty-five years ago on June 6, the lives of many Canadians changed forever. That morning, as thousands of troops from allied countries stormed the beaches of Normandy, history was being written minute by minute. Men dashed from their transport ships to the safety of small hills or sand piles. Men ran across the beach, fell and rose again, wounded, but carried on. Men fell in the water and sand never to rise again.
In the past dozen years or so, Canada has better acknowledged and honoured these brave fighting men. Exhibits, books, magazines and museums tell the stories of their deeds on that fateful day when the tides of war swayed in favour of Canada and her allies. But 65 years is a long time ago, particularly if you had been born after that date. Some researching their family trees today may not know they had an uncle who participated in Operation Overlord, as it was called. With the ever-increasing access to databases, records and government sources, tracing a family member who participated in such conflicts is becoming easier as time passes.
The Faces of War (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/faces-of-war/index-e.html) on the Library and Archives of Canada website is a virtual exhibit of photographs depicting men and women who served for Canada in the Second World War. In total, almost 2,500 digital images tell the stories of men in training and on the battlefield, and women in various positions including nursing sisters in the field and office staff.
For example, one image shows Private C. L. Jewell of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders carrying supplies in Normandy France. The soldier was sporting a "D-Day" beard. It was taken on June 22, 1944.
An excellent addition to this database is that it is completely searchable. Visitors can enter a surname, location, regiment name, ship name or any other keyword to locate a specific photograph. The black and white images are clear and can be saved to a hard drive for printing.
To learn more about the significance of June 6, 1944 and the history of D-Day, visit the Juno Beach Centre website (http://www.junobeach.org/). The centre, located in Normandy, France, is the only Canadian museum in France and is dedicated to remembering and honouring those heroic individuals who fought against all odds to defeat the enemy.
The Canada Virtual War Memorial website (http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=collections/virtualmem)
is a database containing information on Canadian military personnel who died during war time and peace time. It can be searched using surnames, dates, regiments and various other methods.
"The Two Jacks - The Amazing Adventures of Major Jack M. Veness and Major Jack L. Fairweather," by Will R. Bird is an excellent read and reveals the hardships of two North Nova Scotia Highlanders who were taken prisoner on D-Day plus 1. They escaped and then fought on the side of the French resistance before gaining their freedom.
Seeking details on J. Royer Smith, a civil engineer at Amherst between 1870-71. Royer died before 1876. His wife, Bessie, died at Amherst Oct. 15, 1879. He may be buried with her. Contact: Jay Underwood, 16 Brook Court Unit A, Elmsdale NS, B2S 1J8; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: 902-883-9673.
Diana Lynn Tibert is a freelance writer living in Milford. Submit a query. It's free!: RR#1 Milford, Hants County, NS, B0N 1Y0; email: email@example.com