One year later and the WW II veteran who sat in his wheel chair during the 2011 Remembrance Day ceremonies in the gymnasium in the Griffiths-Scott School in Millet was not present. It was over 70 years ago when Alder Greenslade joined the Canadian Forces during WW II. Now at 89 years of age during Remembrance Day, 2012, his wife Jean Greenslade explained his absence. “Alder is at home under the care of our eldest daughter. He just isn’t able to attend.” Mrs. Greenslade later laid a wreath during the formal ceremony.
But Alder’s comments from a year ago clearly reflect why the gymnasium in Griffiths-Scott School in Millet on Remembrance Day November 11th 2012 was filled with people. Alder’s comments are genuine and an important reminder that, “Remembrance Day is a time to stop and remember lost lives of those who paid the price for the freedom”. Alder served in WWII. The following is a brief summary of his experiences reflecting the importance of Remembrance Day.
History of a WWII veteran – Mr. Greenslade
“I was raised on a farm and the quarter section wasn’t big enough for my Dad, my brother and myself so we decided to join the army. My Dad, my brother and two neighbor boys went to North Battleford to join up but my Dad was too old and my brother had polio so they wouldn’t take them. So I was the only one. I was 17 and they said I was a little too young. So I waited and in 1940 joined up. Went to Saskatoon to get my uniform and then to Calgary for my basic training.”
Mr. Greenslade took sick while in Calgary and was in the hospital for a year. “When I came out of the hospital I had to go to Red Deer for my training but after I finished they said I was too young to go overseas so they held me back until the next draft. A year afterwards in 1941 was when I went to England and then to France. To Dieppe. That’s where the big raid was. We went from England to France on little ships, 18 of us bouncing like a duck on the water but anyway we made it.”
Mr. Greenslade recalls numerous hardships they encountered. He recounts arriving in Dieppe in rainy and muddy weather and the discomforts associated with sleeping in tents in the mud and water. He chuckles when telling about one incident. “My boots got so muddy and wet so one of the boys lit the stove making a fire from boxes. I put my boots on the stove to dry. The next day when I went to get them my boots were burnt out. But later I got a new pair.”
From Dieppe he went to Antwerp. “I joined the outfit (in Antwerp) and from then on we hauled food, petrol and ammunition to the front lines. I stayed with it until the end”.
Note: Mr. Greenslade was in the midst of the campaign to free up Antwerp. It cost the Allies dearly. They had lost 703 officers and 12,170 other ranks were killed, wounded or lost in action and presumed dead. Over half of these casualties were Canadian men. However, the capture of Antwerp and the ability to use its port facilities was vital for the Allies as they drove on to Germany. Source – http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/antwerp_and_world_war_two.htm
Remembrance Day 2012
The Royal Canadian Legion Millet Branch #229 is to be commended for all work and effort they put into the opportunity for the community to ‘show honor and remember those men and women who laid down their lives so that we may live in peace’.
The Service began by respectively “marching on the dignitaries’ closely followed by the Veterans, Legionnaires, RCMP and Fire Fighters. The Edmonton Girls Pipe Band ‘marched on’ to the rhythm of their bagpipes and drums. The Griffiths-Scott School band led the audience with playing and singing of O Canada.
Trumpeter, Kirk Wagner played (his 32st annual) Last Post at11:00 a.m. followed by quietness in the gymnasium as all present showed their respect with the traditional two minutes of silence. Greetings brought by various dignitaries stressed the importance of ‘remembering’ and ‘Lest we Forget’.
Following the official service, the Sergeant at Arms, led a parade to the Cenotaph a few blocks away for the ‘March past’ and a single wreath placement.
Guest speaker, Mr. Alen Okanovic shared how he as a young boy was impacted by being able to interact with Canadian soldiers when in his homeland, Bosnia and how it influenced his decision to come to Canada. He has since returned to Bosnia and visited landmine fields and viewed the demining operations conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mines Action Canada. He reflected on the importance the Canadian military had on stabilizing his home country.
The day concluded with the Legion hosting an afternoon of comradeship and lunch at the Legion Hall.