Second World War

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Veteran distributes poppies and awarenss

Morris Polansky worries that Canadians don’t understand the relevance of Remembrance Day.

“I spend a lot of time with the Legion, and we spend a lot of time delivering great bags of poppies to schools,” Polansky said.

Polansky, 95, is a Jewish-Canadian war veteran, who works with the Royal Canadian Legion to distribute poppies to different Toronto schools and subway stations. He is the vice-president of General Wingate Legion, Branch 256, the only Jewish-based branch in the organization.

Veteran recalls his deadly role in D-Day invasion

On a moonlit night in June 1944, Martin Maxwell, a glider pilot with Allied forces, landed his aircraft near a bridge in Normandy, France. He then joined invasion troops seizing the bridge and quietly killing the German sentries with bayonets. Maxwell, 20, hadn’t even finished high school.

“It didn’t feel good, let me tell you that,” he said. “It changed my life; the war made me who I am.”

Maxwell, now 92, was born in Austria in 1924. He will be speaking of his service in the Second World War during a Remembrance Day observance at Centennial College’s East York campus on Nov. 11.

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To survive the war, he longed for home

Despite the destruction and chaos of war, Sid Giddings’ father thought constantly of home.

“He said when he was lying there and bullets were flying around his head … all he thought about was my mom and me,” Giddings said.

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Navy vet recalls the gifts and sacrifices of war

William Lines remembers that the Second World War changed his life … for the better. “I got a wife out of it,” he said with a smile. “I met her in Montreal. I wouldn’t have met her if I hadn’t been stationed there.” Lines added that he also received a valuable education during the war and that led to employment with Bell Canada after the war.

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Toronto couple recalls war on the home front

Freda McDougall remembers her childhood in Toronto during the Second World War. “We had to have lights out,” she said. “Everything was blacked out. So he would have to go around with a flashlight and tell people, ‘You shouldn’t be letting any light out just in case they ever came to attack us.”

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East York legionnaire recalls wartime as merchant mariner

In 1944, William O’Leary lied about his age and enlisted as a galley boy in the Merchant Marine. He was 15 years old. “I’ve sailed all over the world,” said O’Leary, who embarked from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, on a ship carrying food, ammunitions and coal to Allied forces at the end of the Second World War. En route to Odessa, Russia, his ship travelled through the North Atlantic, a playground, he said, for German U-boats that were notorious for picking off slow convoys of ships heading into and out of Canada.

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Conference explores silence and wartime memory

For Elizabeth Olive, remembrances of war are sometimes few and far between. “My grandfather was a prisoner of war,” she said, noting his experience in Asia during the Second World War. “He died many years before I was born – I never met him – but I learned of his story through my mum and I knew that I needed to follow that up.”

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Remembering the noise and commotion of wartime

John Thornton was nearly six years old and the noise of war seemed all around them, he and his mother sought shelter beneath the stairs of their home in a small town north of London, England. “There was a lot of activity at night time with the convoys coming through, particularly the tanks that came through the main street where we lived,” he said, “like a minor earthquake that would shake and rumble the houses.”

Jack Aldred, Remembrance Day parade

Jack Aldred: A life of service

The intersection of Carlaw and Mortimer avenues is safer because Jack Aldred cared enough about people to fight for a crosswalk. Aldred, 91, died at his apartment complex on Tuesday following a heart attack. Mary Fragedakis, councillor for Ward 29, (Toronto-Danforth) recognized Aldred’s community service. “He is a great example of civic engagement,” she said. “He gave us all a sense of the problem at the intersection and how it impacts the kids.”