I was delayed on my drive to work this morning by a parade of soldiers in battle fatigue marching up Princess Street past Market Square here in Kingston. D-Day ceremonies. It reminded me that when I was a kid in the early 70's, Dad's church in the Annapolis Valley still had WWI vets. In Scotland I would visit my great-uncle John Dobie who had delayed shell shock from his time in the trenches. I have a postcard photo of him in his battle kit from 1917. Later, when I was in highschool, the D-Day vets were my buddies older uncles all in their late 50's having a Ten Penny waiting for their burgers to be ready on a Saturday afternoon on the deck. Now - 59 years after that day - they are in their early 80's and fewer and farther between.
Dad once told me about meeting a guy in a nursing home in Dartmouth in the late 80's who was Nova Scotia Highlander in Normandy. [I think of him as Buddy MacDonald as over 37% of all Nova Scotia Highlanders were actually called Buddy MacDonald.] On the first day after Juno Beach, the lads who Hitler apparently referred to as "the Ladies from Hell" had advanced so far against the SS that they were told to halt to let the rest of the Allies catch up. His position was actually dug in beside the Germans line and he could see that the Germans troops were in their mid-teens. The officers were beating them with rifle butts to keep them to hold where there were. The beatings got worse and worse over 24 hours. Buddy couldn't handle it so when a particularly nasty and very high ranking officer showed up and threatened the cowering kids in grey, Buddy put a bullet in his temple. The German line collapsed and the Allies advanced. Reminds me who won the war. The Buddies and Ivans and Tommies and GIs. Think of one if you see one.