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Heroes Remember

I must admit that what I think of are the, the names of the men I knew, whose names I've seen on the gravestones in the cemetery and Beny-sur-Mer particularly in the cemetery.Where we have a Cameron plaque that a, and every, every June the 6th there's a wreath goes there and in memory of Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa and I think that that's the thing, I think of them, I think of the, of the men I knew in my platoon and other people, other regiments. That's what goes through my mind really is the sacrifice that they payed and but, that's what I think about and I think when we visited there with my son Neil and his wife a few years ago, and my wife Dorothy, and we walked down the cemetery and I saw the names and the faces came back to me as I had known them and when I went to sign the book and Neil had signed it ahead of us and he had put opposite of his signature, "Proud to be a Canadian" and I was touched by that because, and again that's a piece of the, of the thing, you know, we can have all the, the great, and I take nothing away from the athletes and people who, who excel in these fields. But these men who were buried there, they're men who when the chips were down payed the price. And we're free today because they did. It's like the, the Dutch that when we were organizing the tours to the Netherlands war graves. Committee went to an executive at the Legion and these Dutch people take these next of kin into their homes and I said to one of the organizers, Jon Crewn. I said, "Jon, it's amazing after all these years, you take these folks in like this. They're strangers and you take them into your homes." And he said, "Don" he said, "We were free people. We lost our freedom. If we ever forget or let our children forget that those men buried over there gave it back to us, it would be a terrible sin." and I, I... The Dutch people are that way with us, really. And I think that's I think that's what young people should realize is that, that it isn't just a case of, of November 11th, but it's a question of, of the duties as a citizen, their duty one to another, concern for another, to protect another and the stronger to protect the weaker and its no insult to somebody if you, if you're, if you're going to protect them. It's not saying that you think they're inferior and I think those are the things that the young people should realize, yeah.

As he annually takes part in Remembrance Day services each November 11th, Mr. Thompson's thoughts take him back to those days of the 1940's.

Donald Thompson

Mr. Thompson was born in West Saint John, New Brunswick on August 19, 1922. He was the middle child in a family of three boys. His father worked as a railway engineer and fireman with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Mr. Thompson was first introduced to military training at an early age becoming involved with the militia when he was roughly 12 years old. He received his Royal Canadian Rifles certificate as a qualified infantry machine gun sergeant in 1939 at the age of 17. He was chosen to go overseas with a company from the Saint John Fusiliers as reinforcements. He travelled overseas on a pleasure boat that was in the midst of being converted to a troop ship and arrived in Liverpool, England. From Liverpool he travelled by train to Aldershot and then on to Crookham Crossroads. There he joined the Cameron Highlanders and trained to support an infantry battalion. In 1943 - 44, while only 21 years old, he achieved the rank of captain and was in Inverary training for combined ops amphibious landings. They trained, in preparation for D-Day, in a camp that was surrounded by barb wire and no one was allowed leave. On June 6th 1944 he landed on Juno Beach as part of the second wave behind the Winnipeg Rifles. On the third day of fighting after landing on Juno Beach he was hit by shrapnel and subsequently sent back to England on a hospital ship. Although he tried to return to action his wounds proved to be too much and he was sent back to England a second time and then eventually back to Canada. After the war Mr. Thompson worked with the Canadian Legion (later to be the Royal Canadian Legion) in Saint John. He moved up the ranks with the Legion and ended up in Ottawa as the Dominion Secretary. In 1970 he was appointed Chairman of the War Veterans Allowance Board and held this position until he retired in 1987. Mr. Thompson was also named Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Cameron Highlanders.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Donald Thompson
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Captain, Platoon Commander

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