Saturday, November 3, 2012

Lest We Forget

We need to remember what our forefather's sacrificed for our 

freedom. We need to be mindful of those that are serving 
today and their brother's in arms that have fallen to continue 
to make our nation what it is; a land of opportunity and 
choice.  We need to keep these stories alive to keep it fresh in
our mind what has been given to us. It's up to us to record 
these stories and to pass them along. Please join me this month, in a month of remembrance to write these things down. If you have a relative or friend who has served or is serving for our nations, whose story you'd like to share, please send it to me at I'd love to feature someone's story for the next few weeks on my blog. It doesn't have to be long, it doesn't have to be perfect, even a photo with some simple words is great-it is simply to keep the truth alive. 

Grandpa Bill
It's stories that our generation is called to continue to tell as the days of our Grandparents' are being laid to rest. It's these legends that will stick in our minds; it's the faces, not the statistics. 

My Grandpa Bill signed up to serve in the second world war, at the signature of his mom's hand as he was only seventeen years old. Grandpa was a prairie kid from central Alberta that hadn't known the water. He headed to Calgary to train with HMCS TECUMSEH, leaving his younger brother Glen to run the farm; their dad had died a year earlier. The next year the farm was going to be left to a hired man when Uncle Glen would sign up. 

Grandpa Bill was a gunner in the Navy, on the triangle run in the North Atlantic on a corvette. The ship  was only 100 feet long and there were 100 plus men on it. I wish he was still here so I could hear more about everyday life on that great creature that lived on the water. 

I know Grandpa's very favourite meal on that ship was Red Lead & Bacon. Canned stewed tomatoes cooked up in bacon grease with little bits of bacon in it were a delicacy! Grandpa Bill also learned about rum in this time of his life. A big barrel of it sat on the ship. Grandpa had a bad cold, and never having had a drink before didn't know the appropriate amount of rum to take to finish that cold off, so filling his whole mug up, he woke up in the morning with the cold gone; but he could ring out the sheets he had slept on.

Grandpa Bill

Grandpa made special friends in that time of his life, too. Ted Forshner would go on to guide with my Grandpa for Uncle Glen for years to come and we'd so often hear of dear Jonny Bonhamm. Our family never realized that his actual name was Jean Louise Bonhamm, as a man from Quebec's name would be, not Jonny. Jonny's family didn't know Grandpa's real name either, he was always talked about as cornflake.It was Jonny that relieved his fears in their biggest storm out on the Atlantic. As Grandpa sweat bullets each time the ocean swelled against the ship, and it leaned so far it threatened to topple over, Jonny came to the rescue. Jonny was a wise old man to Grandpa Bill's young seventeen year old mind, and so when the twenty five year old talked to Grandpa, he listened. Jonny assured him the ship wouldn't sink; it would act just like the clowns filled with air that children knock over, and no matter how hard they hit, they will always pop up. It wasn't until they were both old men, sitting around my grandparent's kitchen table that Grandpa learned that Jonny, in spite of his calm demeanour  was just as afraid, and told Grandpa the first thing he could think of to alleviate some fear. 

For all the hardship and the lonesome days away from his family and farm on the flatlands, this was the highlight of my grandfather's life. Those were his glory years, he spoke of them with fondness and with pride in his voice. Every year, on Remembrance Day a cousin from Ontario would phone Grandpa to thank him for serving for our nation, and for our people; now that Grandpa's gone, he phones my mom and my auntie's. We are all still very proud of our Grandpa who served.

Lest we forget. 

***Thanks to Steph for asking some questions. HMCS in Canada  stand for Her Majesty's Canadian Ship. TECUMSEH was named for a great man, a Shawnee chief, that during the war of 1812 served with Canadian & British forces.***


basebell6 said...

What a great story! A great tribute to such a brave man.

Gumbo Lily said...

When the kids were living at home, one of our favorite homeschool projects was writing cards to send to veterans on Veteran's Day. The kids drew pictures of flags, or of men in uniform or stenciled out the words Patriot or Liberty to embellish the cards. They enjoyed doing it and the vets loved receiving them. I nee to send some out this coming week.

Great story, Cheyenne.

Steph said...

Curious...what does HMCS stand for?

Grace @ Sense and Simplicity said...

What a wonderful story. I'd be proud of him too. Can you imagine signing up for the navy without knowing how you did on the sea. What if you were always seasick. Fortunately it worked out for him.

Crystal said...

Non of my family was ever in the army, wars just were not when they were in the age range (and my great grampa was a minister so he got to stay home) But I sure do appreciate hearing all the stories. My hubby really like the war shows we see on tv with the actual guys doing the narrating and I have to admit I end up watching more often than not.
They were sure brave men and I am ever so thankful to them for fighting for our country.

Tori said...

Love hearing about Grandpa Bill. Many in my family have served, just don't know many stories. My dad, who also served, would be celebrating his birthday on Veteran's Day!! Good thoughts.

ellen b. said...

Hi Cheyenne!
What wonderful photos of your grandpa Bill. I appreciate his service and your remembrance of him. Our son-in-law is a Marine and was deployed to Afghanistan last year. We were so thankful to God for his safe return. May God bless all those who have served and who continue to serve. Blessings...

Pom Pom said...

Hi Cheyenne! I love it that the cousin calls. That's special. I looked at Canadian military uniforms when I was at the museum in Victoria. Such pride and such commitment to country was evident there!
We'll have some special events at school next week in honor of our veterans.
I like your style. You're a fun new friend!

Karen said...

This post is a treasure, Cheyenne! Thanks for sharing - and keep going with the recording of your families stories.. you will never regret it.

Anonymous said...

Great story! We haven taken much for granted and forget the sacrifices made, lives lost. As you remind us there are many friendships and memories made from such a time. So much to be thankful for!
Your sista from the east country,

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful story. So important or us all to have these retold and remembered. I see your Mom in your Grandpa Bill's face. Especially around his eyes and mouth.
Steph C.

Lindsay(PACountryCrafts) said...

I love your stories!

My grandfather has some stories from WWII, but he tends to exaggerate. ;) He swears there is still a woman at the train station in Austria waving her hanky and waiting for him to come back. He also said that one time he got shot at and ran so fast there were stones in his pockets.

Libbie said...

You are sooo right! It is so important to remember! My sister actually has a WW2 uniform that she has her 12 year old son wear & goes & takes pictures with WW2 veterans & then they record their stories with the picture in a book.

My parents are actually in Italy right now & my Dad is visiting where he served in the service with my mom...a lifelong dream they are making happen :)

Thanks for sharing this story today! Times have sure changed :) Love the rum story!

maggied said...

We need to keep these stories alive as the last of the WWII vets are approaching or exceeding 80. If anyone gets a chance to go see "Jake's Gift" it is an awesome tribute to those who fought for our freedom.

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