Faces of Freedom Podcast

Faces of Freedom Podcast

This spring, as we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and V-E Day, we want you to explore the stories of the Canadians who served and sacrificed for our country. After achieving a long-awaited peace, there were many changes to the faces that returned home.

Below, you can hear about how they, along with more than one million Canadians, helped defend peace and freedom during the Second World War.

Audio for each podcast was recorded in the official language of the participants’ choice. These podcasts were then recreated in the alternate official language using voiceovers.

We invite you to explore our Faces of Freedom profiles to read stories of fellow Canadians – some of whom volunteered to bravely defend our freedom. Their faces tell the story and their legacy will live on.


Episode 8 – Private (Ret’d) Maurice Gauthier

Mr. Maurice Gauthier

Maurice Gauthier enlisted in August 1944 and served with the Fusiliers Mont-Royal in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. In an unexpected meeting, he was reunited with his brother in Nijmegen. That is where his brother gave him the helmet that would later save his life.

This episode was created using the audio from our “Heroes Remember” series. Sadly, Mr. Gauthier passed away in 2018, but we are preserving his legacy.

Duration: 06:13

File size: 9 MB / Download MP3

Publish Date: 12 May 2020

  • Transcript of podcast - Episode 8

    Music [00:00]

    Host [00:29]

    War transformed not only those who fought on the front lines and the civilians who experienced it, but also those who supported them on the home front. Although a long-awaited peace lay ahead, there were many changes to the faces that returned, and in those who greeted them.

    Veterans Affairs Canada wants you to explore the stories of those Canadians who have served and sacrificed for our country. These are the Faces of Freedom.

    Host [01:06]

    Maurice Gauthier enlisted in the army in August 1944, following in the footsteps of his older brother. Mr. Gauthier served with the Mount Royal Fusiliers in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. He had several brushes with death on the battlefield in the Netherlands. But who knew that his surprise encounter with his brother in Nijmegen would save his life? Maurice Gauthier gives us a snapshot of his experiences during the Second World War through memories of celebrations, dangers and family ties.

    Music [01:46]

    Maurice Gauthier [01:53]

    There weren’t many soldiers in our family. One of my uncles had been to the war in 1914, I believe, but aside from that, I wasn’t raised in the military, I didn’t know what the reality was, exactly. Everyone was in the war. You would mention someone, he was gone. I asked myself, What are we doing here? So I said, we might as well do our part, too, so I enrolled.

    I had a brother who had enrolled before I did. My dad wasn’t very happy about it. He wanted to get him out because he was fairly young at the time, but dad wasn’t successful and my brother went. My parents reaction when I enrolled wasn’t as strict.

    Music [02:29]

    Maurice Gauthier [02:33]

    In Nijmegen, they wanted to know if everyone was there and checked. Then, all of a sudden, I noticed someone in the ranks—it was my brother! I said, how is it that you are here? His first name was Clément. He said, he got a letter from home in which mother had said that he might run into me because I had also left. He told me that he had landed at Normandy. Those who landed at Normandy had better gear. We had small helmets just on the tip of our head, I called them piss pots. They were good for nothing, they didn’t protect anything. I don’t know why they gave them to us, if a bomb landed on your head, I think, in any case, my brother said, I’ll give you my steel helmet, it protects the sides. I’ll also give you boots because we have high boots and guys don’t have any. I said thank you very much. He said, I’ll give you this and let’s hope they bring you luck. They brought me luck. I said, first class! In the end, the helmet brought me luck.

    Music [03:27]

    Maurice Gauthier [03:29]

    Our first attack was at Calcar and Goch, we crossed over to the German side. We were on our way to the Reichwald Forest when then they bombarded us pretty good. I felt a little piece of something hit me on one side, it made me a little dizzy. It was pretty close, I think some earth and stones had fallen on our heads, on me and my friend Gleason. We made it to the trench and then I told him to go on and jump. And, just as we jumped, that’s when it exploded. A piece hit me and it made me a little dizzy, but it wasn’t too bad.

    Music [03:59]

    Maurice Gauthier [04:01]

    In Oldenburg, we started to say, it’s looking pretty much like the end because we were hearing a lot of things. That’s when we heard the news that they had signed the peace in Oldenburg. But we had done all of Holland by going up before and now we were returning to Germany to arrive. It was important to take Wilhelmshaven. After that, there was nothing left.

    And then everyone was happy, there’s no doubt. But not only us, the Germans, too. You would see a Canadian and a German together on a motorcycle, driving through town and celebrating! Canadians and Germans were celebrating together. The officers calmed things down a bit telling us that was enough. But that’s what I found the most surprising thing to see: We’d been fighting each other but now we were all buddies. Oh, they were just as happy, and the Canadians too. So it was a big party. Eventually things calmed down—but for a while we were ready to start celebrating with them!

    Host [04:57]

    And with that, I’d like to thank you for listening to this edition of the Faces of Freedom podcast. You can keep up to date and join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #CanadaRemembers and #FacesofFreedom. Or, you can find us online, at veterans.gc.ca/canadaremembers. We also have online Faces of Freedom articles, where you can learn more about those who have served and sacrificed for our country. If you have a suggestion for the podcast – whether it’s a specific guest or story – you can reach us on social media, through the Canada Remembers Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as the Veterans Affairs Canada Twitter account. Thanks for joining! We’ll see you next time. And remember – their faces tell the story, but their legacy will live on.

    This episode was created using the audio from our heroes remember series. Sadly, Mr. Gauthier passed away in 2018. But we are preserving his legacy.


Episode 7 – Major (Ret’d) Charles E. Goodman

Mr. Charles Goodman

In early 1944, when he was just 18, Charles Goodman travelled overseas as a reinforcement with the South Saskatchewan Regiment. While serving in Europe he helped liberate the German concentration camp at Westerbork. Goodman would return home from war, but with a souvenir he would only discover 25 years later.

Duration: 09:43

File size: 13 MB / Download MP3

Publish Date: 10 May 2020

  • Transcript of podcast - Episode 7

    Music [00:00]

    Host [00:29]

    War transformed not only those who fought on the front lines and the civilians who experienced it, but also those who supported them on the home front. Although a long-awaited peace lay ahead, there were many changes to the faces that returned, and in those who greeted them.

    Veterans Affairs Canada wants you to explore the stories of those Canadians who have served and sacrificed for our country. These are the Faces of Freedom

    This episode contains first-hand accounts from the Second World War, some of which are graphic in nature. Listener discretion is advised.

    Host [01:18]

    Charles Goodman volunteered for the Saint John Fusiliers at the age of fifteen and would later serve in Northwest Europe with the South Saskatchewan Regiment. He has many memories of war, but it would be twenty-five years before he uncovered his greatest souvenir: shrapnel in his chest. His son now has this piece of shrapnel as a reminder of his father’s service. Even with such an injury, Charles' strongest memories include the liberation of the Westerbork transit camp in the Netherlands from where more than 100,000 people were sent to other camps such as Auschwitz during the Second World War.

    Music [02:00]

    Charles Goodman [02:05]

    We came across a small canal at night, and we moved up, and these are four rifle companies, and we crossed this small canal, walked through trees, and we didn't know exactly what kind of a camp it was; we thought it was a rest camp for Germans. But we got up there it was still dark and we were waiting for the sun to come up when out of the door came half a dozen Germans setting up a machine gun. One of the companies then rushed forward and captured them and the Germans that were inside the building then ran out the back door, got into a vehicle and drove away. And so there we were and we had captured I don't know half a dozen I guess, or more.

    And the chaplain came up to see what was going on at this place and found that these were Dutch families that had been taken up by the Germans, put aboard this train, taken to Westerbork. Basically what was happening at the camp they were sorted out at the camp, and they went off to some place to either work or be killed.

    Charles Goodman [03:27]

    We went into town, to Groningen. And then we went down to a main street along a canal, right beside the a big canal, there was a town square. And this is when I realized how hungry the Dutch where, there is a dead horse in that square. And when we finished doing all we were doing and came back past the square, all that was left of that horse were some hoofs and some hair. All the meat including the innards and everything else was gone. And that was quite a shock to us

    that we had seen, now that the Dutch were really hungry. Later we then took off and moved back into Germany again. And in about four or five weeks the war was over for us.

    Host [04:47]

    Mr. Goodman was wounded in the war but went on to have a long military career. Decades later, though, he discovered that he was carrying a very personal souvenir of the combat he had experienced.

    Charles Goodman [05:03]

    All the shrapnel was in my leg and my hip. And they took it away. Well I was on the island of Cyprus with the United Nations headquarters and I had a private pilot’s license and I wanted to rent an airplane. And my license had expired and they said well you have to get a medical. This all came from Ottawa you see, I had to get a medical. So I went to the British hospital there and the doctor gave me a medical for a pilot. And off I went back to the United Nations headquarters. I just got back when a telephone call had said I was to return to the doctor immediately in the hospital and that was what 20 minutes or half an hour away so off we went again back to there.

    And he took an X-ray down and held it and looked at it and he said what is that there, and he pointed at the top of my chest and there's a big black spot. I said, I don't know, and he felt around and said there’s something in there. And so I said ok open it up! So he froze it and took out a piece of shrapnel about the size of a big thumbnail. And I didn’t know it was there, and there had been no scar. Now I have a scar and I gave the piece of shrapnel to my oldest son as a souvenir from his father.

    Music [07:02]

    Host [07:15]

    After the war, Mr. Goodman would return to the Netherlands for special commemorative events. On one occasion, he got a surprising reminder of the impact of the liberation of Camp Westerbork on one Dutch family.

    Charles Goodman [07:33]

    He was Dutch and he’s a great big guy. And he was going to speak to the crowd to tell them about the camp in Dutch and I was telling them in English what my regiment did when it went up there. And so after he had finished speaking in Dutch and me in English, he came over to me, wrapped his arms around me and kissed me on each cheek. And I was kind, what the heck, why is he so interested, and it turned out that he went into that camp with his parents when he was five years old. I couldn't believe it, it was terrible. And he said but luckily, guess what, he said it was the day the Canadians arrived so we didn't go any place!

    Music [08:31]

    Host [08:40]

    And with that, I’d like to thank you for listening to this edition of the Faces of Freedom podcast. You can keep up to date and join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #CanadaRemembers and #FacesofFreedom. Or, you can find us online, at veterans.gc.ca/canadaremembers. We also have online Faces of Freedom articles, where you can learn more about those who have served and sacrificed for our country. If you have a suggestion for the podcast – whether it’s a specific guest or story – you can reach us on social media, through the Canada Remembers Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as the Veterans Affairs Canada Twitter account. Thanks for joining! We’ll see you next time. And remember – their faces tell the story, but their legacy will live on.


Episode 6 – Corporal (Ret’d) Havelyn Chiasson

Mr. Havelyn Chaisson

Carolyn Steele is the daughter of Corporal (Ret’d) Havelyn Chiasson, a Second World War Veteran who participated in the Liberation of the Netherlands. She joins us to discuss how her father enlisted in the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment and helped liberate Western Europe during the Second World War.

This episode was created using the audio from our "Heroes Remember" series. Sadly, Mr. Chiasson passed away in 2019, but we are preserving his legacy.

Duration: 07:37

File size: 11 MB / Download MP3

Publish Date: 8 May 2020

  • Transcript of podcast - Episode 6

    Music [00:00]

    Host [00:29]

    War transformed not only those who fought on the front lines and the civilians who experienced it, but also those who supported them on the home front. Although a long-awaited peace lay ahead, there were many changes to the faces that returned, and in those who greeted them.

    Veterans Affairs Canada wants you to explore the stories of those Canadians who have served and sacrificed for our country. These are the Faces of Freedom.

    Host [01:06]

    Havelyn Chiasson was among the more than 14,000 Canadian soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy. By then, he had already spent four years overseas as a radio operator with the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment. Chiasson saw action in numerous battles throughout Northwest Europe, and was part of the Allied offensive that finally defeated the Germans. Early in the morning of May 4, 1945, a colonel told Chiasson to send out a ceasefire message. Within a half-hour, Chiasson and his comrades saw the white flags go up—the German Army had surrendered. Carolyn Steele, Mr. Chiasson’s daughter, joins us today to recount her father’s service.

    Music [01:55]

    Carolyn Steele [02:01]

    My father’s service was his essence really, he could always stand his ground and he could always be very calm in the face of whatever turmoil was going on and he... I think that stood him in very, very good stead during those years. He rose to the rank of corporal, but he was also a radio operator. And being a radio operator they had to carry those big backpacks on their backs with all their equipment and he was a radio operator for his division which was called headquarters and I know that it was his job to report to the commander all of the news that they were able to receive that was important about the enemy. And I know that they were the ones who were targeted by the Germans the most, it was the radio operators who were carrying all of the information.

    Music [03:03]

    Havelyn Chiasson [03:12]

    We were fighting in Germany just across the border from Leeuwarden…when the war ended.

    Five o’clock in the morning the colonel jumped in my slit trench and said send out this message, “Ceasefire! Don’t fire unless you are fired on!” And that was the last message that went out. And the front that we were holding there, that morning at 5:30, we saw these white flags go up and the Germans surrendered. And a colonel and another officer came over to our dug-out and he said to the colonel, “We’re going to surrender!” And the colonel said, “How many men do you have?” They said, “Two hundred!” He said, “Bring them in.” He said, “No, I won’t bring them in. He said if I go back, he said, you’ll shoot me in the back when I leave this place.” And the colonel said, “No, we won’t do that. The war is over!” He said, “Send two officers with me and I’ll go bring them out.” So two of our officers went with them and the two hundred men surrendered and that was the end, that was the end of our war. It was all over

    Carolyn Steele [04:37]

    Whenever I think of him, I think of him in his uniform. His Legion uniform, his medals and his dedication to the Legion, to the education of young people right up until the last year of his life. He was in high schools, he was in elementary schools, he wanted the children to remember and he had a very nice way with children about explaining what war was like. And he talked a lot about Holland and he returned to Holland many, many times. He was an ambassador really, in a very kind-hearted, genuine way. And, I will try my best always to… to honour him.

    Music [05:34]

    Host [05:39]

    This episode was created using audio from our Heroes Remember series. Sadly, Mr. Chiasson passed away in 2019 but we are preserving his legacy.

    And with that, I’d like to thank you for listening to this edition of the Faces of Freedom podcast. You can keep up to date and join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #CanadaRemembers and #FacesofFreedom. Or, you can find us online, at veterans.gc.ca/canadaremembers. We also have online Faces of Freedom articles, where you can learn more about those who have served and sacrificed for our country. If you have a suggestion for the podcast – whether it’s a specific guest or story – you can reach us on social media, through the Canada Remembers Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as the Veterans Affairs Canada Twitter account.

    This spring, Veterans Affairs Canada will commemorate the 75th anniversaries of the Liberation of the Netherlands and V-E Day through digital initiatives and activities. Let’s flood social media with tulips, the flower representing the friendship between the Netherlands and Canada, using the hashtag #TulipsatHome. You can also send a postcard virtually, thanking those who have served. Show us how you remember this spring, using the hashtags #Netherlands75 and #VEDay75. Thanks for joining! We’ll see you next time. And remember – their faces tell the story, but their legacy will live on.


Episode 5 – Trooper (Ret’d) Guy Crowther

Mr. Guy Crowther

Serving with the 5th Canadian Armoured Division, Guy Crowther celebrated his 21st birthday in unique fashion - by helping liberate the Netherlands in the final days of the war.

Duration: 07:12

File size: 10 MB / Download MP3

Publish Date: 6 May 2020

  • Transcript of podcast - Episode 5

    Music [00:00]

    Host [00:29]

    War transformed not only those who fought on the front lines and the civilians who experienced it, but also those who supported them on the home front. Although a long-awaited peace lay ahead, there were many changes to the faces that returned, and in those who greeted them.

    Veterans Affairs Canada wants you to explore the stories of those Canadians who have served and sacrificed for our country. These are the Faces of Freedom.

    Music [00:59]

    Host [01:05]

    There was no birthday cake for Guy Crowther on May 6th 1945. But there was still a celebration. Crowther spent his 21st birthday in the recently liberated Netherlands, as part of a Canadian tank crew. Crowther's military career began two years earlier when he enlisted with the 5th Canadian Armored Division in Vancouver, and was posted to the United Kingdom. By the time he retired from the military in 1946 and finally returned home he had served in Italy and throughout Western Europe. He joins us today.

    Music [01:43]

    Guy Crowther [01:47]

    It’s a feeling that I’d never get again, for sure. They were so appreciative, so that they were climbing on the tanks and as you went down the streets there, and I wasn’t in a big parade either, but yes they were climbing all over the tanks, and kissing you and doing.. laugh.. It was a great time for us, for the soldiers and a great time for the Dutch people because they were literally starving to death. So we emptied out our tank of all the food we had, we had a lot of what we called M and V which was meat and vegetables in an ordinary sized can, and they of course loved it, and we were so tired, sick and tired of it, that we were quite happy to give it away.

    Music [02:51]

    Guy Crowther [02:57]

    We stayed in a house, that was commandeered away from the Germans, Germans were in this house too. But they of course left when we took over their accommodation. This house had a big hall attached to it. In this hall, the Dutch people had setup a dance for us,  and they announced my birthday which was quiet unusual but that was good and yeah, we had a real good time at that birthday.

    Music [03:45]

    Host [03:49]

    Being a member of a tank crew was dangerous duty but Mr. Crowther had survived the war. It would take time to get back home after the fighting ended, though. Here he describes the sweet relief he felt when his troop ship finally reached North America and sailed into the harbour in New York City.

    Music [04:13]

    Guy Crowther [04:19]

    I think it was somewhere around, getting close to midnight or something when we were coming in there, and it was you couldn’t see hardly anything out there because it was so foggy and rainy and it was a real miserable night, but anyway, you couldn’t see a thing. But, as we were coming, we knew we were getting close to America and as we were coming close, through the fog you could just see this big, lumpy statue coming up on our left, and sure enough it was the good ol’ Statue of Liberty. We.. that was the first thing we saw of the American coast, was the Statue of Liberty and that felt like Heaven. Because we were home, we were home, we were home.

    Music [05:27]

    Host [05:32]

    And with that, I’d like to thank you for listening to this edition of the Faces of Freedom podcast. You can keep up to date and join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #CanadaRemembers and #FacesofFreedom. Or, you can find us online, at veterans.gc.ca/canadaremembers. We also have online Faces of Freedom articles, where you can learn more about those who have served and sacrificed for our country. If you have a suggestion for the podcast – whether it’s a specific guest or story – you can reach us on social media, through the Canada Remembers Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as the Veterans Affairs Canada Twitter account.

    This spring, Veterans Affairs Canada will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and V-E Day through digital initiatives and activities. Let’s flood social media with tulips, the flower representing the friendship between the Netherlands and Canada, using #TulipsatHome. You can also send a postcard virtually, thanking those who have served. Show us how you remember this spring, using #Netherlands75 and #VEDay75. Thanks for joining!

    We’ll see you next time. And remember – their faces tell the story, but their legacy will live on.


Episode 4 – Able Seaman (Ret’d) Alex Polowin

Mr. Alex Polowin

Still a teenager, Alex Polowin joined the Navy on 15 April 1942 as a Royal Canadian Naval volunteer. He has never wanted to speak about his combat experience, but prefers to focus on the friendships he developed with his fellow shipmates. He vividly remembers where he was when Churchill announced Germany’s surrender. It was a stark contrast from nights on the English Channel aboard HMCS Huron.

Duration: 07:48

File size: 11 MB / Download MP3

Publish Date: 3 May 2020

  • Transcript of podcast - Episode 4

    Music [00:00]

    Host [00:29]

    War transformed not only those who fought on the front lines and the civilians who experienced it, but also those who supported them on the home front. Although a long-awaited peace lay ahead, there were many changes to the faces that returned, and in those who greeted them.

    Veterans Affairs Canada wants you to explore the stories of those Canadians who have served and sacrificed for our country. These are the Faces of Freedom.

    Music [00:58]

    Host [01:01]

    Alex Polowin joined the Navy on April 15, 1942 as a Royal Canadian Navy volunteer, he was only 17 years old. He never wants to speak about the combat he experienced, but more about the friendships he had with his fellow shipmates. He most vividly remembers a sunny afternoon in Leeds, England. He was sitting on the deck of the grand Queens Hotel as the crowd rejoiced upon hearing Churchill declare Germany’s surrender. It was a sharp turn of events from his nights in the English Channel aboard HMCS Huron under attack by German destroyers.

    Alex Polowin [01:43]

    June the 5th, the night before D-Day, I remember we left Plymouth, Devon, England. Winston Churchill got on to tell us that... that voice of his.. that matter of his could motivate you to almost do anything. But he spoke about... the back of the Nazis are broken. We’ve just got to finish the job and we're going to do it. And I felt good... really, really felt good. It was the beginning of the end.

    Music [02:16]

    Alex Polowin [02:23]

    Three days after D-Day our job was to get the balance of the enemy navy that was operating in the English Channel... and we did. We outnumbered them two to one at the time. Can you imagine what five destroyers would have done had they gotten through and started firing at landing barges and landing crafts? You can imagine. We prevented all that. And I feel wonderful about that. And we had a long, long battle on about June 9th. Three days we hunted them, and we met, and we came out the winner. And we put out of commission or sank to the bowels the five enemy destroyers.

    We played a very big role; but of course, we were out on the water. Like the infantry, for example, had that adrenaline rush when they'd free a place. They felt great about it. I never went through that. But I really didn't get the significance of it until I started going to the D-Day anniversaries. You couldn't walk ten yards before someone would throw their arms around you. They were just wonderful. Almost as if the war ended that day. That's with what enthusiasm they still greet you.

    But it is very, very sad to say goodbye to your shipmates. And you come into the harbour... Halifax. And you see all the ships that already have been emptied of personnel. You know... it looks like... like a cemetery. You get the feeling of it. Everybody's gone where you used to see ships lined up and Seamen on the upper decks doing... working at what they're doing, and that was all gone.

    Of course, it happened to me when I was very young. It took me about three years until I... until finally I started to understand what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It was very difficult making the adjustment. You go in when you're 17. You’re out. You're not really skilled for civilian life yet. You may come back and... and you get an emptiness within you. The friends you had, notice a change in you and you notice a change in them. They didn't change, it was you that changed because you had all these experiences.

    Enjoy now but prepare for the future. Part of it is, income should be invested properly, and they should take courses in that, and so that when the time comes that he's out, he's not frightened about the future. And I enjoy the life that I'm having right now, although I've had misfortunes. My wife passed away. I had a very happy marriage. Her name was Kathleen. She was a librarian with the Ottawa Public Library, and she learned street wisdom from me, and I learned the intellectual factors, so it was a perfect combination. I miss her very much, but life has to go on. And things worked out fine that way. I am very happy... I... very happy about my whole life, the way it went. I wasn't always. But I am now. I’d like to sort of end it with a war time song, called, I’m going to play Lili Marlene which has been popular for about a hundred years,

    Music [06:16]

    Host [06:39]

    And with that, I’d like to thank you for listening to this edition of the Faces of Freedom podcast. You can keep up to date and join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #CanadaRemembers and #FacesofFreedom. Or, you can find us online, at veterans.gc.ca/canadaremembers. We also have online Faces of Freedom articles, where you can learn more about those who have served and sacrificed for our country. If you have a suggestion for the podcast – whether it’s a specific guest or story – you can reach us on social media, through the Canada Remembers Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as the Veterans Affairs Canada Twitter account. Thanks for joining! We’ll see you next time. And remember – their faces tell the story, but their legacy will live on.


Episode 3 – Corporal (Ret’d) Anne McNamara and Flying Officer (Ret’d) Howard McNamara

Howard and Anne McNamara

Both Anne McNamara and her husband Howard McNamara served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. She served with the Entertainment Unit across North America and Europe, before and after V-E Day performing in shows for Canadian service members. He meanwhile was a pilot in the North African and Italian Campaigns attacking German targets and escorting Allied bombers. The pair met in Montreal after the war had ended.

Duration: 10:10

File size: 14 MB / Download MP3

Publish Date: 29 April 2020

  • Transcript of podcast - Episode 3

    Music [00:00]

    Host [00:29]

    War transformed not only those who fought on the front lines and the civilians who experienced it, but also those who supported them on the home front. Although a long-awaited peace lay ahead, there were many changes to the faces that returned, and in those who greeted them.

    Veterans Affairs Canada wants you to explore the stories of those Canadians who have served and sacrificed for our country. These are the Faces of Freedom.

    Host [01:05]

    When all of the men her age were enlisting Anne McNamara knew she wanted to do her part. Determined not to be left behind, she joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943, as part of the Entertainment Unit. There she starred in the All Clear variety show alongside her fellow cast members and together, in an effort to boost morale, they brought the show to Allied bases across North America and Europe.

    Music [01:38]

    Mrs. Anne McNamara [01:42]

    When we were in Washington we played the Walter Reed Hospital. And, they were the first in danger to return from Pearl Harbor. Now that whole hall was filled, filled with young men.

    Maybe there were women too, but the majority men. Well when we appeared, girl, to do our first number, the curtains opened and they screamed and they whistled and they hooted and howled, you know, they yelled and screamed so much that we couldn’t hear the music. So we couldn’t get started our dance because we couldn’t hear the band. And the next day in the paper it said they were a little confused when they first started but once they got going it was really, really an entertaining show.

    Music [02:30]

    Mrs. Anne McNamara [02:39]

    The bombing was just horrific, but the destruction they did, you couldn’t believe it unless you saw it and the people were still sleeping in the Tube because I guess they were bombed out and had no place to go. And we started entertaining the troops right away, because you know the fellows were there, they were posted you know in different camps there around England and Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

    Music [03: 07]

    Mrs. Anne McNamara [03:15]

    Well we got to Amsterdam and Holland, oh they were so nice to us there. They didn’t tell us the queen was in the audience. We just went ahead and did the show and after the show, they said to us, get changed and go downstairs, the queen is there. But by the time the girls got their makeup on and got their uniforms on, the men had already, they had changed, most, a lot of them just did the show in their uniform, like the sketches in different things, they didn’t have to change. So they were all in line ahead of us and the girls were all at the end of the line, and we were sort of giggling and trying to practice how to curtesy, when it came to our turn, but it never came to our turn because she just had a allotted time and she had to leave. So we didn’t get to meet her and we weren’t allowed to take any pictures so that was us and Queen Wilhelmina.

    Music [04:12]

    Host [04:19]

    Meanwhile her future husband, Howard McNamara, who was considered too skinny when he first tried to enlist, was working hard to put on weight. He was eventually accepted by the Royal Canadian Air Force, later serving as a Spitfire pilot in North Africa and during the Italian Campaign.

    Mr. Howard McNamara [04:45]

    My younger brother was turning, turning eighteen in 1940. So when he turned eighteen we both decided we should join. So we went down to the air force recruiting office and wanted to sign up. My brother passed, right away. I passed the physical, but when it came time to my, my weight the doctor says I think you better go home and put on another ten pounds. So I didn't join the same day my brother did.

    Mr. Howard McNamara [05:36]

    We were stationed at Port Said, we spent about eight months being retrained and re-equipped with Spitfires. When we were completely re-equipped, we were then transferred from Egypt to the Italian Campaign. The American Bomber Command was stationed in their gardenia. Which is, in the, which belongs to Italy. And when they went out campaigning they would fly north and we would pick them up and cross over to northern Italy to operate. And that’s when I completed my operational tour.

    I found out when I got home that November that my brother had been shot down. And he had been on a fighter squadron in England and he was shot down over Europe. He was twenty-one years old at the time. When I was home on leave and all this came out, the family asked me if I would accept the retirement offer that the air force was giving out at the time. Because they had enough pilots overseas that they could afford to retire a few of us, so I took the offer.

    Music [07:25]

    Mrs. Anne McNamara [0731]

    We had met before the war I guess, and then we didn’t know each other we just had met. And then after the war was over we used to go dancing, you know it was always never like a date, like two people going with each other, it was always like a gang would go. We were in each other’s company, he’d be with his date and I would be with mine, and one night we started to dance together and it felt pretty good. And so that’s when we started to go out together. We got engaged, we got married in May, in 1948 I think, and that was it. We’ve been married now … do the math forty-eight till now –

    Mr. Howard McNamara [08:16] Seventy-two.

    Mrs. Anne McNamara [08:17] Seventy-two years.

    Music [08:18]

    Host [08:28]

    And with that, I’d like to thank you for listening to this edition of the Faces of Freedom podcast. You can keep up to date and join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #CanadaRemembers and #FacesofFreedom. Or you can find us online at veterans.gc.ca/canadaremembers. We also have online Faces of Freedom articles, where you can learn more about those who have served and sacrificed for our country. If you have a suggestion for the podcast – whether it’s a specific guest or story – you can reach us on social media, through the Canada Remembers Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as the Veterans Affairs Canada Twitter account.

    This spring, Veterans Affairs Canada will commemorate the 75th anniversaries of the Liberation of the Netherlands and V-E Day, through digital initiatives and activities. Let’s flood social media with tulips, the flower representing the friendship between the Netherlands and Canada, using the hashtag #Tulipsathome. You can also send a postcard virtually thanking those who have served. Show us how you remember this spring using the hashtags #Netherlands75 and #VEDay75.

    Thanks for joining! We’ll see you next time. And remember – their faces tell the story, but their legacy will live on.


Episode 2 – Private (Ret’d) Armand Berthiaume

Mr. Armand Berthiaume

Armand Berthiaume has both good and bad memories of the Liberation of the Netherlands. He particularly remembers the generosity of the Dutch people as Canadians liberated their country. This episode was created using the audio from our “Heroes Remember” series. Sadly, Mr. Berthiaume passed away in 2018, but we are preserving his legacy.

Duration: 07:13

File size: 10 MB / Download MP3

Publish Date: 27 April 2020

  • Transcript of podcast - Episode 2

    Music [00:00]

    Host [00:29]

    War transformed not only those who fought on the front lines and the civilians who experienced it, but also those who supported them on the home front. Although a long-awaited peace lay ahead, there were many changes to the faces that returned, and in those who greeted them.

    Veterans Affairs Canada wants you to explore the stories of those Canadians who have served and sacrificed for our country. These are the Faces of Freedom.

    Host [01:02]

    Armand Berthiaume will always be grateful to the man who gave his life to save his, 75 years ago in the Netherlands. Despite the horrors of the war, he has good memories, including when he met Queen Juliana-Wilhelmina. He also remembers the generosity of the Dutch people, who would bring bread or a glass of water to the soldiers who marched through their streets and villages. His best memory will always be when liberation was declared on May 5, 1945.

    Mr. Berthiaume recounts the ups and downs of his daily life during the Second World War.

    Music [01:45]

    Berthiaume [01:55]

    We took the train, we went to Halifax, we got on the boat. There were a number of us, I think there were about 10,000 of us, if not more. There were five of us, one on top of the other, on the hammocks, and the aisles were very very narrow. We boarded the boat L’Ile-de-France and I said to myself, I’ll never see my parents again, I’m almost certain with the war going on. If I get hurt, I won’t come back. My mind was made up. I was very positive, it was over, I was starting a new life. We went to England. We were in England for two weeks and they put us on another boat and we went to Ostend, Belgium. We went to Leopold’s barracks in Brussels. I met Juliana- Wilhelmina, Queen of Holland, she was the mother, she was older. She said, oh my God, you’re so young! I wasn’t 19 yet, you know.

    Music [03:07]

    Berthiaume [03:13]

    I was taken prisoner for a brief moment. What happened was, well we were in the woods. I was with my buddy, we were walking in the woods, we were being watched, we were trying to see if there were any Germans. We heard ‘Walk’. It was two Germans behind us. I had a rifle in my back, my friend had a rifle in his back. He was 25 to 30 years old, an old man, he had a little girl. He said, Armand, when I say “run”, run. I said to myself, why, is he going to run in the other direction? That’s not what he did, the rifle in his back, he put his hand on it, and he took mine and put it in his back. He gave his life for me. I was a boy and he had a little girl.

    Music [04:12]

    Berthiaume [04:19]

    There were always memorable moments like that, though, during the war, moments that affect us greatly. You walk through the streets and people come to bring you a piece of bread and a glass of water. We walked down the street, it was so good. The Dutch people, I’ve always said, the

    best people in the world. Suffered like they did, and today, there they are, they worked. When you walk down the streets of Holland, you see how beautiful the highways are. The world is grateful to Canadians. They’re the closest people to Canadians, for those of us in uniform.

    Berthiaume [04:59]

    The world is so grateful. It’s because when you’ve never seen anything, like us in Canada, in Quebec, they don’t know what war is. If they knew a little, just a little bit about what happened, they would be happy to be here. They would see a soldier, greet him, say hello. Often, here, when you put on your uniform, people say thank you very much, thank you. Even young people, from the photos we took while walking yesterday, I was on the outside, in the truck, I reached out a hand to all the children as they passed by, they were very happy. The little girls, tall though, brought me a flower. I took the flower and blew a little kiss, she was happy.

    Music [05:46]

    Host [05:54]

    And with that, I’d like to thank you for listening to this edition of the Faces of Freedom podcast. You can keep up to date and join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #CanadaRemembers and #FacesofFreedom. Or, you can find us online, at veterans.gc.ca/canadaremembers. We also have online Faces of Freedom articles, where you can learn more about those who have served and sacrificed for our country. If you have a suggestion for the podcast – whether it’s a specific guest or story – you can reach us on social media, through the Canada Remembers Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as the Veterans Affairs Canada Twitter account. Thanks for joining! We’ll see you next time. And remember – their faces tell the story, but their legacy will live on.

    Host [06:53]

    This episode was created using the audio from our heroes remember series. Sadly, Mr. Berthiaume passed away in 2018. But we are preserving his legacy.


Episode 1 – Sergeant (Ret’d) Norman Kirby

Mr. Norm Kirby

Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Norman Kirby enlisted in 1943 when he was only seventeen. He went on to serve as a Bren light machine gun operator and landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. He shares with us his memories from the campaign to liberate the Netherlands.

Duration: 08:00

File size: 11 MB / Download MP3

Publish Date: 25 April 2020

  • Transcript of podcast - Episode 1

    Music [00:00]

    Host [00:33]

    War transformed not only those who fought on the front lines and the civilians who experienced it, but also those who supported them on the home front. Although a long-awaited peace lay ahead, there were many changes to the faces that returned, and in those who greeted them.

    Veterans Affairs Canada wants you to explore the stories of those Canadians who have served and sacrificed for our country. These are the Faces of Freedom.

    Norman Harold Kirby was raised listening to stories of war – both those told by his grandfather and his school teacher. His grandfather was a Veteran of the Boer War and the First World War. His schoolteacher lost an eye, an arm and a leg to trench warfare. He understood what it meant to go to war. He understood the fear. He understood the loss of life. Still, when his generation’s war came, Kirby answered the call. And he’s never been sorry that he did. As a gunner, Norm saw plenty of action throughout the war. But one of his clearest memories is a tense encounter with a German commander.

    Music [01:51]

    Norm Kirby [01:54]

    On this particular day “A” company, was in reserve, we were not supposed to be in the fight... in the fight. We were there, but we're not going to be leading. This was a Panzer Battalion that they were attacking and our troops got pinned down in the open and they had an awful time. They sent in I think, 12 or 14 Sherman tanks, not German but Sherman tanks our Canadian tank corp. They stopped at our company and said “it's okay you guys, the party’s over, get on the tanks and you're going to go in and take that Panzer Battalion.” A company piled in, on top of the tanks and away we went.

    We got almost all the way in when our tank was hit.. by I believe was an 88 millimeter German round blew, blew the tank apart and everybody on it. We were all piled on the outside of the infantry. And I lost most of my men there.

    I had no weapon, I picked up a Germans schmeisser, we did not use the schmeisser much it was a wonderful weapon but it was so fast that you could tell it a mile away that it was a

    German shooting. But anyway, I got a schmeisser, and I found a young fellow I don't know where he came from, a young soldier from another company I guess. And I I don't know how we did it but we got right inside of the building. And I walked up to the commander, and I persuaded him and I… I don't know how cause he was a pretty tough guy. But he spoke perfect English and I told him I said look it, I want you to send word to your,your your men to cease fire.

    And I guess I said a lot more than that and maybe the way I said it, he did. He called a ceasefire and then I made a deal with him, I said look it, there's a lot of wounded out there… there's a lot of my guys and a lot of yours too. If you'll take, take these beds out of your sleeping quarters here and make stretchers out of them and go out and gather up the wounded. Yours and ours.

    Don’t discriminate against, I didn’t use discriminate I said, don’t make any difference. We’ll

    treat you well. And he said, “I will do it” and by gosh he did. He did it right to the letter he he really did a job, he was a real gentleman.

    Host [05:36]

    The efforts of Mr.Kirby and the North Shore (New Brunswick) Infantry Regiment would soon come to fruition. Another memory he holds dear, Mr. Kirby recounts the Liberation of Groningen in the Netherlands and the Dutch children who surrounded him and his comrades in celebration

    Norm Kirby [06:00]

    These little kids came running out.. All laughing, and they had all these coloured banners and paper hats, all in the Netherlands colours. And now these … this material must've been hidden for years and years and years because they were under occupation all this time.

    Norm Kirby [06:35]

    Where they come from and how they got there and after all the horrors of going through Normandy, Belgium, Scheldt and parts of Holland. To have these kids laughing and happy and dancing around.. all around us it was just fantastic. I don't know how. I just think well this is… this is what wars about it's worth, it’s worth being here.

    Music [07:04]

    Host [07:08]

    And with that, I’d like to thank you for listening to this edition of the Faces of Freedom podcast. You can keep up to date and join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #CanadaRemembers and #FacesofFreedom. Or, you can find us online, at veterans.gc.ca/canadaremembers. We also have online Faces of Freedom articles, where you can learn more about those who have served and sacrificed for our country. If you have a suggestion for the podcast – whether it’s a specific guest or story – you can reach us on social media, through the Canada Remembers Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as the Veterans Affairs Canada Twitter account.

    This spring, Veterans Affairs Canada will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and V-E Day through digital initiatives and activities. Let’s flood social media with tulips, the flower representing the friendship between the Netherlands and Canada, using #TulipsatHome. You can also send a postcard virtually, thanking those who have served. Show us how you remember this spring, using #Netherlands75 and #VEDay75. Thanks for joining!

    We’ll see you next time. And remember – their faces tell the story, but their legacy will live on.

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