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Ottawa, the day that war is declared

Heroes Remember

Ottawa, the day that war is declared

War actually started on September 3rd, which was a Sunday. September 4th was Labour Day, and because it was Labour Day we had a morning paper to deliver and the headlines of it was “Athenia Sunk.” And uh, so I started around my route first thing in the morning, be about 5 or 6 o’clock and I can still remember customers running out of their houses, you know to meet me to get the paper. And the local army service corps company, a divisional transport company or something, their bugle band went marching by. A couple of guys at the back were carrying a big sign, “Fall in and follow the band.” And I can still see fellows stepping off the sidewalk and lining up behind the band, you know to go off. That morning there were seven of us, all young, we’d be 13, 14, with our papers getting ready to split up to go to our various routes and we all bemoaned the fact that the war would be over by Christmas and we’d be too young to get into it, you know. And uh, before the war was over four of those boys were dead.

Mr. Bowen describes the atmosphere in Ottawa the day that the Second World War is declared, through the eyes of a fifteen year old paperboy.

Gerald Bowen

Gerald R. Bowen was born in Ottawa, Ontario on October 13, 1925. He attended Lisgard High School, and was a paperboy. His family had prior military experience. His uncle had served in the Air Force and his father in the Army, later becoming an historian with the Department of National Defence. Mr. Bowen enlisted in the Navy where he became a telegrapher, serving aboard a Royal Canadian Navy frigate on convoy duty in the North Atlantic until the war ended. He left the service for a brief time and re-enlisted in the Canadian Army, where he became a paratrooper and a specialist in sabotage. He later served as a peacekeeper in Cyprus. Mr. Bowen’s extensive experience in the Canadian military offers us some very informative and perceptive anecdotes.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Gerald Bowen
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War

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