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Corporal (Ret’d) Havelyn Chiasson

On 4 May 1945, Chiasson’s Colonel asked him to send out a broadcast radio message that said: “Ceasefire! Don’t fire unless you are fired on!” These words, within a few hours, marked a ceasefire on the Western Front.

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Corporal (Ret’d) Havelyn Chiasson

Havelyn Elmer Chiasson was born on 14 May 1921 on Miscou Island, Gloucester County, New Brunswick. He attended an English and French school while his father worked as a fisherman. When the Second World War began in 1939, Chiasson enlisted in the Carleton and York Regiment in Bathurst before later becoming a member of the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment. He would serve with this unit until the end of the conflict. Chiasson trained in his home province at Bathurst, Woodstock and Camp Sussex, and would become a radio operator.

“There was a hundred ships in the convoy. They said it was the largest convoy that ever crossed the Atlantic.”

When the time came to ship out for Europe in 1941, Chiasson and the rest of his regiment boarded a troop train for Halifax. Having never been in the city before, he couldn’t believe his eyes when they pulled into the dockyard. “I never saw so many ships in my life… They said you could walk across from one ship to another across the Bedford Basin,” he explained in a 2014 interview with Veterans Affairs Canada. Chiasson and thousands of his comrades would soon set sail for England—the start of what would become five and a half years overseas. “There was a hundred ships in the convoy. They said it was the largest convoy that ever crossed the Atlantic.”

As a radio operator in his regiment, he was often in constant communication with the other companies—relaying messages between the officers. Chiasson recalls having some trouble with the wireless sets as they only worked half the time. “The Germans had these jamming machines on. They’d jam our wireless sets at night… you couldn’t hardly hear a thing.”

Chiasson saw action in numerous battles in Northwest Europe at places like Carpiquet, Quesnay, Boulogne, Calais, the Scheldt, Keppeln, and Zutphen. He was also one of the more than 14,000 Canadian soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy on 6 June 1944—D-Day.

“That was the end of it, that was the end of our war. It was all over.”

In the late winter of 1945, Chiasson and the North Shore Regiment joined the Allied offensive to finally defeat Germany. They first took part in the Battle of the Rhineland, then were part of the Canadian advance through the Netherlands where they helped liberate town after town. Chiasson remembered the end of the war in great detail, “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,” he recalled. Around 5:30 the morning of 4 May 1945, while holding their front line positions, they saw white flags go up—the German Army had surrendered. “That was the end of it, that was the end of our war. It was all over.”

In recognition of his service, Chiasson was awarded the 1939-45 Star; the France and Germany Star; the War Medal 1939-45; the Canadian Volunteer Service medal and clasp; the Defence Medal; and the Légion d’honneur.

Havelyn Chiasson retired from military service in 1945 with the rank of Corporal. He spent much of his spare time after the war raising awareness of the significant contributions that men and women of the Canadian military have made. In 2010, he moved to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia to be closer to his daughter and grandchildren. Sadly, Mr. Chiasson passed away in June 2019—not long after taking part in special commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy in Halifax.

In honour of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and Victory in Europe (V-E) Day, Havelyn Elmer Chiasson is one of our Faces of Freedom. He is also featured in our exhibit in the Visitor Education Centre at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial through May 2020. His service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Interested in hearing more from Mr. Chiasson? Watch his Heroes Remember Interviews.

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