Thursday – Lest We Forget

[date Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 2:12 PM]


No poetry in my soul for today…..

Today my ascorbic humor is replaced by sober reflexion.

If you care to explore, here is a link that lists the war memorials throughout the world honoring Canada’s fallen:

Did you know that in France alone, there are five cemeteries where our countrymen lie?

Our American, British, Australian and Kiwi brothers lie near ours in marked and unmarked graves all over the world.

The only link I have to our countrymen who fought for our freedom is my father.

My father, like many of his peers, never talked about his experiences at war. Indeed, only in his most tormented rantings (always alcohol induced) did any details of his war experience or internment in a POW camp reach my young ears – and only through the filtered explanations my mother, or one of his friends might offer. That is how I formed a sketchy, incomplete picture of what his experience was.

Here’s my dad in uniform:
Army Uniform - 1940 - small.jpg

All this is happening 10 years before my birth. I don’t know who or where May was or came from, but the admonition on the back –
Picture of May.jpg

Note from May on Picture.jpg

“Don’t let the Germans get me” – written in a moment of melancholy perhaps, or with flirting youthful innocence, portends an unforeseen event…….

Here’s a picture saved from a magazine dated March 23, 1940 before Dad was shipped out to Italy –

Dad Playing Darts - sharp.jpg

He was born in May, 1923. He was only 17 in the picture above….. These are the only three pictures in our family album of Dad before combat. The next pictures are more sombre – three postcards that arrived in late 1944 –

I’m sure they were in the family “archives” somewhere, but I did not see these postcards until after my father passed away.

The last card is in my dad’s handwriting.

As a father myself, I can only imagine the relief felt by Daisy, William, and all the siblings, to have proof Donald Lloyd was still alive.

Stalag VII-a is and was well documented. It was established in 1939, and on the day it was liberated (April 29, 1945), it held over 110,000 prisoners of war – the biggest single liberation of POW’s during the war. This is a website detailing Stalag VII-a in Moosburg:

This link is to an article about the liberation of Stalag VII-a and the capture of Moosburg. The “Liberators” as they became known, were the 14th Armor Division of the United States Army:

I often wondered where my father’s animosity towards the USA originated. Perhaps it was during this time period. Stalag VII-a at the time of liberation had 30,000 US POW’s. There are stories of Germans trying to pass themselves off as POW’s or non-combatants, and the vetting process was time consuming. All POW’s with suspect or no credentials were processed through Geneva. Here is a story of a Stalag VII-a Canadian POW named Nick Zrobeng who was there at the time of liberation:

I am ashamed to admit I never discussed this history or his experience overseas with my dad before he died.

My dad was 6′ 2″, and over 200 lbs. when he went to war.

I was told that when liberated from Stalag VII-a, he weighed less than 90 lbs.

He was fortunate. He came home from the war. Perhaps scarred, haunted, and dysfunctional. What has been seen cannot be unseen, da? But home he came to a free land.

Today Canadians fight a different enemy that threatens our freedoms.

I am grateful, and humbled by their sacrifice.

I hope you all took a moment today to reflect on the bounty we all enjoy due to the selflessness of our armed forces.

We owe a debt that cannot be paid…..


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *