Ma-Me-O Beach Remembers

Comrades Ken Unland and Paul Norris

 

What is Remembrance Day? 

 
A question asked to all of us at one time other another by a parent, a friend, a school teacher.
Back 30-40 years ago people would tell you it is a day we take time to remember what Ralph Perrin, Phil Weedon, Mac McLeod, Lloyd Adair, Ralph Bidinger, Cal Jackson and our other local veterans did for our country, fighting to protect our rights and freedoms.
It is also a day to remember the memory of the men who gave the ultimate sacrifice and never made it back home to their friends and families. Now a days when you ask what is Remembrance day you get almost the same response.
A day to remember those brave men and women who have and are fighting for our rights and freedoms, But the name of those brave men and women seem to be getting forgotten. November 11th is a date known by everyone as the National Day of Remembrance.
For me remembrance day is not just once a year it is something that is done through out the year. May 26th, July 31st, September 3rd, June 6th, April 9th, September 20th. Six days that have no special meaning for most people, but these dates are important in our Legion Branchʼs history.
May 26th, 1942. Dallas Schmidt arrived on the island of Malta with a squadron of Bristol Beaufighters. While there Dallas went on to become a flying ace and receive the Distinguished Flying cross twice.
July 31st, 1917. The battle for Passchendale began where Alex Wilson emerged from the trenches serving as a stretcher barrier for his fallen comrades. September 3rd, 1943; Operation Avalanche, the allied invasion of Italy, commenced where Harvey Lapp landed and made his way up the boot to liberate the country.
June 6th 1944. Operation Overlord or better known as D-Day was launched were Pat Monaghan drove landing crafts which landed those brave men onto Juno Beach.
April 9th 1917. The battle for Vimy Ridge started where Walter Scheidegger stormed up a hill that seemed impossible to take.
September 20th 1943. Bill Fisher was aboard the HMCS St Criox when it was torpedoed by a German U-Boat. Fisher was the sole survivor of the St.Croix.
With each passing year there are less and less veterans to tell their story. The memory of the events in the wars will always be remembered and in-stories in the history books, but the stories of our local veterans are being lost.
So it is up to us to tell their story and carry on their memory.
That is why this year the Ma-Me-O Beach Legion is starting a new tradition. A tradition to pay tribute and honor to our local veterans of Branch #252.
So every year on November 11th, we will pick a couple of our past veterans and tell you their story. This year we are choosing to tell the story of our branchʼs last two remaining WW2 veterans: Paul Norris and Ken Unland.
Ken Unland was born in Pigeon Lake in 1918. Ken spent his youth working on the family farm and galavanting around the country side with his brother John. November 1940, Ken married the apple of his eye Jane and started his own farm and family in Westerose. In January of 1941 Ken joined the Canadian Army.
After basic training Ken boarded the train in Edmonton and was shipped out to Debert Nova Scotia. Ken went on to be stationed all across Canada from Nova Scotia to Vancouver. Ken served in the military as a private driving large transport trucks. Ken was willing to go overseas but his unit never received orders to ship out. Ken received his discharge in 1946 and returned home to his farm in Westerose where him and his wife Jane went on to raise five children. Ken was an avid curler and curled with Harvey Lapp, another local war veteran. In 1993 Ken moved out of Westerose and moved to Wetaskiwin where he still resides.
Paul Norris was born in 1926 in Winnipeg Manitoba. Paul joined the military in 1944 and was in charge of training new recruits for service overseas. Just like Ken's unit, Paul's never got orders to ship out overseas. Paul received his discharge in 1945 with the rank of Sergeant. Paul went on to go work in the oil patch after his military service. In 1950 Paul received a degree in Geology from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. In 1951 Paul was married to Miki and went on to have 10 children. In 2010 Paul and Miki moved from Norris Beach to Camrose after Paul had leg surgery. Paul and Ken never went overseas but had great respect for the ones who served beyond our borders and made the ultimate sacrifice.
Ma-Me-O Beach Legion is proud and honoured to have these men as members of our branch.
Veterans storyʼs are being forgotten with each passing year. So if you get the chance to hear one pass it on cause it is up to us to keep their memory alive.
 
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
Written By: Alec Dreichel
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