Hamilton Heroes: Ensuring our veterans’ voices are not silenced

News Nov 06, 2009 Ancaster News

While today’s 22-year-olds make better lives for themselves through post-secondary education, enjoy night-life with friends and twitter about their latest exploits, how often do they think about those who made their good fortune possible?

Marshall Alvin Wilson didn't experience the joys of an extended childhood.

By the time he was 22, he had watched soldiers freeze to death in the unforgiving mountains of Naples, boiled meagre rations in American battle helmets because their shape and chin strap made a good handle and killed countless Germans as part of an elite force called the Black Devils.

Marshall Alvin Wilson had also, by the age of 22, watched many of his friends die. He was anxious to save each one, but had witnessed so much death and destruction that he became numb to the realities of his life. To simply survive, his mind focused on the task at hand. Al didn’t think. He just went out and did it; he had no other choice.

Al was born in May 1924 and quit school in Grade 10. Like his father before him, Al signed on for any job that earned a few dollars to put food on the table. He cut cords of wood into bundles, worked at an egg grading station and drove a truck.

Al joined the army at the age of 17. Many of his friends had already enlisted, and Al believed it was his duty to do the same. Originally, he wanted to join the air force and be a gunner like his friend, George. But George was shot down and killed during a flight over France.

Al altered his plans and served as a paratrooper during the Second World War. He returned home a changed man — long gone were the carefree days of childhood. Al was unable to shake the memories of death and wondered why he was chosen to survive.

“I went through all I went through and I wasn’t even 22 years old yet....working helped me integrate, but I found it difficult to walk away from the memories” said Al. “As the days pass, you think of the men...who never made it back and yet I find myself alive and working. It’s hard to figure that out. I guess it’s all about being lucky.”

Al’s story is one of 12 contained in the book Hamilton Heroes, Tales of Adventure, Adversity and Heroism from the Second World War.

Written by Peter Tassi and Veronica Morrison, and published by Ketari Publishing in Stoney Creek, the book is available just in time for Remembrance Day.

Paul Bentley, who wrote the foreword, said, “These are stories for parents to read to their children, and teachers to read to their students.

“Their (veterans’) stories help us to understand the difficult circumstances of their youth, how they managed during the Great Depression of the 1930s and what it was like to be a young soldier in the Second World War.”

Mr. Bentley’s father was a British airman who met his mother, Jeanne Marie, during the war.

For John William Bentley, the war was a “seminal experience” in his life, said son Paul.

“Although I was born many years after the war, it was nevertheless still very much in dad’s thoughts. It was not so much that he purposefully sat us down to talk about the war, but rather that it was such a part of his life that he was always referring to it.

“As his son, I can remember his stories almost as clearly as he can. But of course, to remember the stories is nothing like having experienced them.”

For many people, the war is becoming a distant memory, said Mr. Bentley, and those who lived through it are leaving our presence. In a few short years, there will be no veterans left.

“My father, now 86, still talks about the war, but in the not-too-distant future, his voice will become silent,” Mr. Bentley states in his foreword.

Hamilton Heroes, Tales of Adventure, Adversity and Heroism from the Second World War features the stories of Marshall Alvin Wilson, Gordon B. McPartlin, Frederick Bernard Engelbrecht, John William Bentley and Jeanne Marie Bentley, Bruce Sutherland, Stanley Allen Darch, Art Adams, Jack Clifford McFarland, Arthur Pearson, Frank Bernard Volterman and John C. Wilkinson.

Using much of their own words, the book presents their stories, from childhood to service in the army, navy or air force and ends with their lives after the war.

Hamilton Heroes includes riveting first-hand accounts of the slaughter at Dieppe, the vicious fighting in the mountains of Italy, the bombing of Germany and a veteran’s poignant reminisces about his time as a prisoner-of-war.

The veterans recall brutal deaths and carnage, performing their duties without question and being greatly troubled by the sacrifice of friend and foe alike.

Each chapter in Hamilton Heroes ends with a series of questions and answers, leaving the reader with words of advice and inspiration. The questions address issues like courage, love, marriage, work, success, happiness and faith, serving to inform and inspire people of all ages.

Hamilton Heroes can be ordered at www.petertassi.com/hamiltonheroes.php or purchased at Chapters in Ancaster.

Hamilton Heroes: Ensuring our veterans’ voices are not silenced

News Nov 06, 2009 Ancaster News

While today’s 22-year-olds make better lives for themselves through post-secondary education, enjoy night-life with friends and twitter about their latest exploits, how often do they think about those who made their good fortune possible?

Marshall Alvin Wilson didn't experience the joys of an extended childhood.

By the time he was 22, he had watched soldiers freeze to death in the unforgiving mountains of Naples, boiled meagre rations in American battle helmets because their shape and chin strap made a good handle and killed countless Germans as part of an elite force called the Black Devils.

Marshall Alvin Wilson had also, by the age of 22, watched many of his friends die. He was anxious to save each one, but had witnessed so much death and destruction that he became numb to the realities of his life. To simply survive, his mind focused on the task at hand. Al didn’t think. He just went out and did it; he had no other choice.

Al was born in May 1924 and quit school in Grade 10. Like his father before him, Al signed on for any job that earned a few dollars to put food on the table. He cut cords of wood into bundles, worked at an egg grading station and drove a truck.

Al joined the army at the age of 17. Many of his friends had already enlisted, and Al believed it was his duty to do the same. Originally, he wanted to join the air force and be a gunner like his friend, George. But George was shot down and killed during a flight over France.

Al altered his plans and served as a paratrooper during the Second World War. He returned home a changed man — long gone were the carefree days of childhood. Al was unable to shake the memories of death and wondered why he was chosen to survive.

“I went through all I went through and I wasn’t even 22 years old yet....working helped me integrate, but I found it difficult to walk away from the memories” said Al. “As the days pass, you think of the men...who never made it back and yet I find myself alive and working. It’s hard to figure that out. I guess it’s all about being lucky.”

Al’s story is one of 12 contained in the book Hamilton Heroes, Tales of Adventure, Adversity and Heroism from the Second World War.

Written by Peter Tassi and Veronica Morrison, and published by Ketari Publishing in Stoney Creek, the book is available just in time for Remembrance Day.

Paul Bentley, who wrote the foreword, said, “These are stories for parents to read to their children, and teachers to read to their students.

“Their (veterans’) stories help us to understand the difficult circumstances of their youth, how they managed during the Great Depression of the 1930s and what it was like to be a young soldier in the Second World War.”

Mr. Bentley’s father was a British airman who met his mother, Jeanne Marie, during the war.

For John William Bentley, the war was a “seminal experience” in his life, said son Paul.

“Although I was born many years after the war, it was nevertheless still very much in dad’s thoughts. It was not so much that he purposefully sat us down to talk about the war, but rather that it was such a part of his life that he was always referring to it.

“As his son, I can remember his stories almost as clearly as he can. But of course, to remember the stories is nothing like having experienced them.”

For many people, the war is becoming a distant memory, said Mr. Bentley, and those who lived through it are leaving our presence. In a few short years, there will be no veterans left.

“My father, now 86, still talks about the war, but in the not-too-distant future, his voice will become silent,” Mr. Bentley states in his foreword.

Hamilton Heroes, Tales of Adventure, Adversity and Heroism from the Second World War features the stories of Marshall Alvin Wilson, Gordon B. McPartlin, Frederick Bernard Engelbrecht, John William Bentley and Jeanne Marie Bentley, Bruce Sutherland, Stanley Allen Darch, Art Adams, Jack Clifford McFarland, Arthur Pearson, Frank Bernard Volterman and John C. Wilkinson.

Using much of their own words, the book presents their stories, from childhood to service in the army, navy or air force and ends with their lives after the war.

Hamilton Heroes includes riveting first-hand accounts of the slaughter at Dieppe, the vicious fighting in the mountains of Italy, the bombing of Germany and a veteran’s poignant reminisces about his time as a prisoner-of-war.

The veterans recall brutal deaths and carnage, performing their duties without question and being greatly troubled by the sacrifice of friend and foe alike.

Each chapter in Hamilton Heroes ends with a series of questions and answers, leaving the reader with words of advice and inspiration. The questions address issues like courage, love, marriage, work, success, happiness and faith, serving to inform and inspire people of all ages.

Hamilton Heroes can be ordered at www.petertassi.com/hamiltonheroes.php or purchased at Chapters in Ancaster.

Hamilton Heroes: Ensuring our veterans’ voices are not silenced

News Nov 06, 2009 Ancaster News

While today’s 22-year-olds make better lives for themselves through post-secondary education, enjoy night-life with friends and twitter about their latest exploits, how often do they think about those who made their good fortune possible?

Marshall Alvin Wilson didn't experience the joys of an extended childhood.

By the time he was 22, he had watched soldiers freeze to death in the unforgiving mountains of Naples, boiled meagre rations in American battle helmets because their shape and chin strap made a good handle and killed countless Germans as part of an elite force called the Black Devils.

Marshall Alvin Wilson had also, by the age of 22, watched many of his friends die. He was anxious to save each one, but had witnessed so much death and destruction that he became numb to the realities of his life. To simply survive, his mind focused on the task at hand. Al didn’t think. He just went out and did it; he had no other choice.

Al was born in May 1924 and quit school in Grade 10. Like his father before him, Al signed on for any job that earned a few dollars to put food on the table. He cut cords of wood into bundles, worked at an egg grading station and drove a truck.

Al joined the army at the age of 17. Many of his friends had already enlisted, and Al believed it was his duty to do the same. Originally, he wanted to join the air force and be a gunner like his friend, George. But George was shot down and killed during a flight over France.

Al altered his plans and served as a paratrooper during the Second World War. He returned home a changed man — long gone were the carefree days of childhood. Al was unable to shake the memories of death and wondered why he was chosen to survive.

“I went through all I went through and I wasn’t even 22 years old yet....working helped me integrate, but I found it difficult to walk away from the memories” said Al. “As the days pass, you think of the men...who never made it back and yet I find myself alive and working. It’s hard to figure that out. I guess it’s all about being lucky.”

Al’s story is one of 12 contained in the book Hamilton Heroes, Tales of Adventure, Adversity and Heroism from the Second World War.

Written by Peter Tassi and Veronica Morrison, and published by Ketari Publishing in Stoney Creek, the book is available just in time for Remembrance Day.

Paul Bentley, who wrote the foreword, said, “These are stories for parents to read to their children, and teachers to read to their students.

“Their (veterans’) stories help us to understand the difficult circumstances of their youth, how they managed during the Great Depression of the 1930s and what it was like to be a young soldier in the Second World War.”

Mr. Bentley’s father was a British airman who met his mother, Jeanne Marie, during the war.

For John William Bentley, the war was a “seminal experience” in his life, said son Paul.

“Although I was born many years after the war, it was nevertheless still very much in dad’s thoughts. It was not so much that he purposefully sat us down to talk about the war, but rather that it was such a part of his life that he was always referring to it.

“As his son, I can remember his stories almost as clearly as he can. But of course, to remember the stories is nothing like having experienced them.”

For many people, the war is becoming a distant memory, said Mr. Bentley, and those who lived through it are leaving our presence. In a few short years, there will be no veterans left.

“My father, now 86, still talks about the war, but in the not-too-distant future, his voice will become silent,” Mr. Bentley states in his foreword.

Hamilton Heroes, Tales of Adventure, Adversity and Heroism from the Second World War features the stories of Marshall Alvin Wilson, Gordon B. McPartlin, Frederick Bernard Engelbrecht, John William Bentley and Jeanne Marie Bentley, Bruce Sutherland, Stanley Allen Darch, Art Adams, Jack Clifford McFarland, Arthur Pearson, Frank Bernard Volterman and John C. Wilkinson.

Using much of their own words, the book presents their stories, from childhood to service in the army, navy or air force and ends with their lives after the war.

Hamilton Heroes includes riveting first-hand accounts of the slaughter at Dieppe, the vicious fighting in the mountains of Italy, the bombing of Germany and a veteran’s poignant reminisces about his time as a prisoner-of-war.

The veterans recall brutal deaths and carnage, performing their duties without question and being greatly troubled by the sacrifice of friend and foe alike.

Each chapter in Hamilton Heroes ends with a series of questions and answers, leaving the reader with words of advice and inspiration. The questions address issues like courage, love, marriage, work, success, happiness and faith, serving to inform and inspire people of all ages.

Hamilton Heroes can be ordered at www.petertassi.com/hamiltonheroes.php or purchased at Chapters in Ancaster.