How Roy Went to War

Pipestone Flyer

 

 

On November 11th, 2012 on Remembrance Day, Roy Foster reminisces about how it all began. “I was one of many young ‘kids’ who were either raised on a ranch or on a small mixed farm in the High Country. Ninety percent of my friends rode horseback to school, or some  parents who had a large family sent their children to school in the winter time in a ‘cutter’ (name for a light weight sleigh with seating used for transportation of people) and a trusty team of horses.”

Roy shares his experiences that all began in the early 1940’s when a young lad living on a ranch in Southern Alberta with a grade VIII education wanted to join the armed forces. He applied to the army and was rejected. He applied to the navy and was rejected. But in 1942, Roy Foster was accepted into the Canadian Air Force to train as an aircraft mechanic. 

“We went to a one room school. The teacher taught 10 to 15 children with grades ranging from grade one to grade nine. The grade eight and nine students were approaching their mid to late teens when Canada declared War against the German Regime, who had attacked Poland, France and Great Britain. Many of the men from the community had begun to enlist. Many of the ranch ‘kids’ that I went to school with were anxious to enlist, although many of us were under age and had only completed grade eight.

It is rather a mystery that many of the young people who had been raised in the High Country wanted to join the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve. Although many had never seen a canoe, they ended up being great sailors serving on Corvettes on Escort duty in the Western Atlantic and later throughout the Atlantic, and the Mediterranean.  Others were interested in joining the Royal Canadian Army or the Merchant Navy.

Personally, I was interested in the Air Force and finally did enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force. I was called to duty several months after many of Alberta youngsters had been sworn in to the service of their choice.” 

Roy reflects on his first day in serving his country

  “Those of us who had enlisted in the R.C.A.F.  received our orders in the mail. We were to report to the Recruiting Station where we had originally signed up. Although we had not received uniform or military instructions, we were all marched downtown, to the C.P.R. Station in Calgary.” Roy reflects on his first day in serving his country, “We didn't know how to march, but were all proud young kids who were thrilled to be in the service, and  knowing that following a period of training, we would be heading for unknown parts of the world, with unknown circumstances”. 

Roy points out the sad truth, “I don’t know exactly how many veterans there are exactly in the Wetaskiwin region but there are not too many left and we are losing them. In fact we have lost so many we had to decline the school visitations in recent years”. For many years veterans put on a presentation for students to inform them what Remembrance Day is about. But today too many have passed away or have difficulty getting around.

Roy’s life in the armed forces takes him all over the world.

“I volunteered to go overseas and serve on a heavy conversion unit (upgrading style of planes) in Yorkshire, England. In 1943/44 when the war wasn’t going too well they were asking for volunteers for flight engineers so I applied. I didn’t expect to get accepted with a Gr. VIII education but after a few days I was accepted and began my flying career.

When the war was over I came back to Nova Scotia and did a lot of flying but of course when the war ended we were all discharged. I went out to Turner Valley and worked for an oil company for a few years but returned to the Air Force ‘back on the ground’ once again, as an aircraft mechanic. 

I went back to flying again, picking up aircrafts at factories across North America and delivering them to Canadian user bases throughout the world. I lost my hearing so I was transferred ‘back to ground’ as a mechanic in Cold Lake. I was finally discharged in 1963.” Roy proudly displays 4 shiny medals, The Defence of Britain, Canadian Volunteer Services Medal, The Victory Medal and Long Term Service Medal. “I was eligible for two more but I applied too late and now it doesn’t really matter.”

Roy Foster is an active member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 86 serving as the Education and Publicity Chairman.  “On behalf of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 86; the Executive Committee, the Members, the Citizens of Wetaskiwin, and the surrounding community, I say thank you Paul.” These were the words expressed by Roy explaining the Legion’s appreciation for the contributions made by Paul, his students and the Wetaskiwin Composite High School band.  Roy specifically refers to them being, “a major contributor during the yearly Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Wetaskiwin Drill Hall. 

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians are asked to pause in memory of the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives in military service Perhaps in five, fifty or one hundred years from now when someone reads a copy of this first-hand description of how ‘Roy went to war’ it will help document how wars are life-altering experiences.  Thank you Roy for sharing your life changing experience and reminding us, ‘Lest we Forget’

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
City of Wetaskiwin launches Whistle-blower Program

Whistle-blower program acts as anonymous forum to hold local government accountable

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

Executive Director and Co-Founder of Rock Soup Craig Haavalsen is sleeping in a tent outside Rock Soup’s location until the Go Fund Me for Rock Soup raises $10,000. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Putting normalcy into asking for help: New non-profit sets up in Wetaskiwin

Rock Soup non-profit is a new secular Food Bank putting down roots in Wetaskiwin.

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season’s top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Curling Canada has provisional approval for Calgary’s hub-city concept from Alberta Health

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

A scene from last year’s Light the Night fundraiser at the Stettler Town and Country Museum. This year’s rendition is on a drive-through basis only, but it still promises to be a not-to-be-missed seasonal highlight. (Independent file photo)
Stettler Town and Country Museum hosts ‘Light the Night’

This year’s rendition is drive-through only, but will still prove to be a dazzling display

(Black Press File Photo)
Rimbey woman gathering Christmas gifts for seniors at Valleyview Manor

Margaret Tanasiuk says she doesn’t want anyone to feel forgotten on Christmas morning

Most Read