You don’t have to be a licensed private investigator to find the military records of your ancestors. If you’ve always wanted to learn more about their service during the Second World War, or the First, it’s never been easier to find their official government service records, at least if your relative served in a Canadian military uniform.
While I can’t issue medals for gallant service, I would like to recognize the holy work that British historian Martin Sugarman has been doing for years in the field of remembrance. Aside from his dozen published books on Jewish military topics, including his most recent one on Jews in the Merchant Navy in the Second World War, Sugarman keeps a rolling list of Jewish (or potentially-Jewish personnel) who were killed in WWII or WWI, but whose graves do not bear the symbol of the Star of David. Some actually bear a cross.
The coronavirus has forced the cancellation or limitation of most of the world’s highly-anticipated ceremonies to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. For my part, all of my scheduled lectures and public events here in Canada this spring have been postponed or called off entirely, due to the pandemic. However, the milestones of the liberation of Holland and #V-EDay75 are far too important to ignore. That is why I want to pay tribute, virtually, to the vital contribution of Canada’s 17,000 Jewish fighting military personnel to winning the war against Hitler, and rescuing the survivors of the Holocaust.
Harry Colt, Secretary of the Jewish War Veterans of Canada, Toronto Post, awards Ellin a “Flames of Memory” Medal, for her work documenting and publicizing and honouring the 17,000 Canadians of Jewish faith who served in WWII, defeated Hitler, and rescued the survivors of the Holocaust. Her book, “Double Threat”, received constant support from the veterans in this organization, right from beginning of her research back in 2014. The medal and plaque were issued during an event at the Lodzer Congregation in Toronto, March 4, 2020.
I started writing this feature story to find out who “Blackie” was, after some former Camp Naivelt alumni told me about a wooden statute shaped like an airplane wing that used to sit in a place of prominence at the Toronto-area summer camp during the Second World War. The staff built it to honour the memory of a beloved sports director and camp counsellor — who everyone called “Blackie”. He had been a pilot serving with the British RAF, and was killed in action overseas during the Second World War. No one remembered his name, though.
Don Cherry has a long history of supporting Canada’s first responders and military. He tarnishes his work by attacking immigrants, who he thinks don’t appreciate Remembrance Day.
It is a message we should heed during Remembrance Week, when Canadians hold parades and solemn ceremonies at local cenotaphs to honour the soldiers who died in war, and also the surviving veterans. It is not enough to not forget. Be active in your remembrance.
Canada’s 17,000 Jewish soldiers who served in WWII are finally getting their due at Veterans Affairs Canada. A new web exhibit two years in the making has gone live on the government website Remembering Those Who Served.
Dateline: Courseulles-sur-Mer, France: You sure attract a lot of attention when you ride through the streets of Normandy in…
Usually I don’t talk about myself when I speak to audiences around the world about “Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the…