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Pilgrimages With Youth

Heroes Remember

Pilgrimages With Youth

Interviewer: So if you could speak to the young people about your duty and your obligations, what would you say to them? Well I'd been on three pilgrimages representing my regiment. Five years ago we went to Italy and we had a youth from every province and territory in Canada. They were 16 to 18 year olds and that was one of the most wonderful things I think that Canada has ever done, is to bring these children along, I call them children because they were, well they were not really children I guess, but anyhow. In order for them to qualify to go they had to write an essay of, pick a fallen soldier, and write what they could find out about him and read it at the grave site. And that was so very emotional for them and for us. But you know I think they, they learned more in that two weeks than they have in the rest of their life, or their previous life, you know. So I think that was one of the most important things that the government could have done. Interviewer: And you got to meet these young people? I got to meet them, I'm still writing to some of them. Interviewer: Isn't that wonderful. But when I got home from Italy I phoned everyone's, I tried to talk to their mothers, out of every one of the youth group that was with us, I phoned their mothers, and they all broke down and cried too you know when I was talking to them. But that was, cause they'd done such a wonderful job you know, they were so helpful. Like when we'd lay wreaths, one would go with each Veteran and walk with him to lay the wreath, you know so that was really, really tremendous, it really was. When we went to Holland they didn't do this so much, the youth group kind of kept to themselves. They, they had to do the same thing, but not with the Veterans, they'd done it with themselves. I'd suggested to their leader that you know, they should be spending more time with the Veterans at the grave site and doing their thing at the grave site with the Veterans not by themselves. But that didn't happen so I was kind of disappointed in that, so I only phoned a couple of parents because I, I felt uncomfortable saying you know, that they done such a wonderful job when I really didn't know that they had. I didn't have any evid.., or proof of that so... I know they did, but I, I didn't experience that. I would like to make a point. Like when I went back to Italy on these pilgrimages to places that I remembered, you look back, you're looking at things with 18 year old eyes and that is the strangest feeling, it's like your in a different world. But you, you actually see yourself as 18 years old. Interviewer: And you had that opportunity? Oh yes, yep. Interviewer: Can you tell us what that was like? Well it's, again it's very emotional. Like that story that I was telling you about, trying to find an opening through the wall. My wife and I went to Sicily on a, an elder hostel thing and after it was finished we took two weeks and I tried to go down to the beach where we landed and went through all the villages that we had fought through. But when I got to that wall, you know I just had to cry. Interviewer: A lot of memories. Oh a lot of memories, yeah. Interviewer: And you're back there. Yeah, yeah ... Interviewer: And being back there at a different time frame in your life, you go back to being that 18 year old? Oh yes. Every time you just revert right back, just like flashing a, like you flip everything right around. Yeah.

Mr White recalls participating in pilgrimages to Italy with youth from across Canada, and how seeing some of the same areas he fought in made his state of mind revert to that time.

Maurice White

Maurice White was born in Coldwater, Ontario, on January 2, 1925. At a young age, his family relocated to Grassland, Alberta, where he was raised. After being rejected as too young by the air force, he successfully enlisted with the army, joining the Prince of Wales Armoury in Edmonton, Alberta. By the age of 17 he was an instructor, carrying the rank of corporal, but anxious to serve overseas he left his rank, to serve as a Private with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment. For 23 months Mr White served in the Italian Campaign, seeing action in such cities and towns as Ortona, Sicily, and Ragoona. Although not a religious man, his numerous near death experiences left him believing someone may have been watching over him He served with the military police for a year after the end of the War before returning to Canada.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Maurice White
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
1st Special Service Force

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