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The Show Must Go On

Heroes Remember

So the rest of my leave there we decided things quietened down the next night, they didn’t bomb and then the next night we decided to go to the theatre which was a couple of blocks up the street. So we go to see a picture up there, I forget even what the picture was. But when I went in to the entrance they stopped me and they said, “At the end of the program we ask all service men that are here to represent and you are Canada which is really something,” They hadn’t seen a Canadian around Birmingham. “Would you come up on the stage where they play God Save the King and all that at the end of the program?” “Yah, okay!” So the bombing is going on all the time that we’re there so I figured it’s further away. So it comes time and all the audience is there and the picture has ended and they come up and they introduce all the troops, the fighting men of England. So we go up on the stage and I’m standing there and Tommy Handley, you know, the big comedian there, he’s next to me, he’s on the stage, that’s one reason I went there and a piano boy and he’s got my arm and we’re swinging and (inaudible), sing song yah. And the woman beside me, I forget her name, she’s one of the actresses and she says, “Hang on to me, I’m scared to death” I said, “Why, they haven’t hit close.” She says, “The whole top of the roof of the theatre is on fire, they just dropped a stick of incendiaries on us.” And they have asked us to stay here and carry on and as we are singing the people are leaving because if we yell that we’ve been hit there’s going to be panic, people killed. So we had to sit there and wait until everybody waltzed out, they didn’t know until they got out that the theatre was on fire. And then we made a run for it out the back door, the whole damn roof was blazing when we were there.

An evening of theatre and singing gets a hot encore.

Joseph Anthony Ryan

Joseph Anthony Ryan was born in Montreal in 1920. The circumstances during the depression era saw him and his family moving to Thunder Bay, Ontario in search of a better life. Like many during this time, applying to Canada’s military was a way to find work, adventure and purpose, so in the late 30’s he joined the Lake Superior Regiment and began his training alongside the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). From participating in operations from Iceland to Dieppe to his time as a prisoner of war in Germany, Joseph Ryan’s stories bring us a unique perspective on the price paid for our freedom.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
May 5, 2009
Person Interviewed:
Joseph Anthony Ryan
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Regiment of Canada

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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