Open post
VE Day flag

VE Day

Victory in Europe (VE) Day

VE Day

VE Day flag
Canadian soldiers celebrate VE day at Piccadilly Circus in London, England, on May 8, 1945.
LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA 3256572

Today, May 8th, is the 79th anniversary of VE Day, which meant an end to nearly six years of war that had cost the lives of millions, and brought suffering to populations of entire countries. This is the first of three posts covering this significant historical period.

Millions of people rejoiced in the news that Hitler had surrendered, but this was not the end of the conflict. The war against Japan did not end until August 1945, and the repercussions of the Second World War, economic, social and political, were felt long after Japan and Germany surrendered.

Canada’s greatest challenge was the economy, and how to move from one geared for war to one that could provide the goods for peace. Unlike most of Europe, we did not have to rebuild bombed cities and deal with the legacy of an invading army passing through the country and destroying everything in its path.

VE Day surrender
Generaloberst Alfred Jodl (1890 - 1946): Jodl signs the instrument of surrender at Rheims.
© IWM (EA 65715)

Germany Signed an Unconditional Surrender

Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30th 1945, his successor was Grand Admiral Karl Döniz, who, as Germanys President, negotiated an end to the war with the Allies, at the same time trying to save as many Germans as possible from falling into Soviet hands. On May 4th the surrender of the German forces in the Netherlands, northwest Germany and Denmark was accepted by the British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery. On May 7th, Supreme Allied Commander General Eisenhower accepted the surrender of all German Forces signed by General Alfred Jodl.

The Soviet leader Josef Stalin wanted his own ceremony, and in Berlin on May 8th a further document was signed. Döniz plan was partially successful as millions of German soldiers surrendered to Allied forces and escaped Soviet capture.

VE Day Celebration
A truck of revellers passing through the Strand, London, 8 May 1945.
© IWM (HU 41808)

VE Day Announced

The announcement that the war had ended was made late in the day on May 7th. The BBC in Britain interrupted its scheduled programming to announce that Victory in Europe Day would be a National holiday, but lots of people began celebrating early. News of VE Day soon spread to the rest of the world.

In the next sectionwe cover how VE Day was marked in Britain and across the World.

VE Day King & Queen
HM King George VI and Queen Elizabeth with Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret joined by the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London on VE Day.
WM (MH 21835)

VE Day was a National Holiday in Britain

A National Holiday was announced after Churchill gained assurances from the Ministry of Food that there were enough beer supplies in the capitol, and the Board of Trade announced that people could buy red white and blue bunting without using ration coupons. There we even special ‘victory’ menus in some restaurants and commemorative items quickly produced in time for the celebrations.

There were parades, thanksgiving services and street parties, and dancing in the street. In New Zealand VE Day was officially on May 9th due to the time difference.

Britains Prime Minister Winston Churchill was the man of the hour on VE Day. He made a radio broadcast and gave a speech in London. For him, nothing would match his time as a wartime Prime Minister, he wrote later that everything afterwards was ‘all anti-climax’.

The British Royal Family also took part in the celebrations, with eight appearances on the balcony at Buckingham Palace. The family had remained in London despite the palace and buildings surrounding them being bombed, as they wanted to portray to the British people their support and resolve not to give in to the Germans.

While the King and Queen were waving to the crowds for the last time, the future Monarch, Princess Elizabeth, and her sister Princess Margaret were allowed to leave the palace and join the people on the street- anonymously- and take part in the party atmosphere. Afterwards Princess Elizabeth said ‘I think it was one of the most memorable nights of my life

VE Day dancing
British girls, of the Picture Division of the London Office of War Information dance in the street with American soldiers during the "VE Day" celebration in London May 8, 1945. This scene took place outside the building of the U.S. Army Pictorial Division has its offices.
© IWM (EA 65796)

Victory in Europe was marked around the world

The news that the war was over in Europe spread quickly, people in Allied countries and the British Empire wanted to celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany.

There were scenes of rejoicing in the US, in New York 15,000 police were mobilized to control the crowds in Times Square. Due to the recent death of President Roosevelt, who had led his country through the war, the flags were kept at half-mast.

In Australia the mood was somewhat sombre due to the war in the Far East and the Pacific still being fought, with many Australians still serving there, but there were services in churches to give thanks, and many cities did rejoice.

In Paris, France, huge numbers of people partied on the Champs Élysées, in the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe singing ‘Its a long way to Tipperary’.

However, in Halifax, Canada, there were riots among the large concentration of military personnel stationed there. Thousands of soldiers, sailers and civilians looted the liquor stores - which had been closed for the VE Day holiday - and the resulting riots and vandalism resulted in several deaths.

It was a day of mixed emotions for those who had lost loved ones. Amongst the street parties and rejoicing there were many people who had lost a friend or relative and who were mourning those deaths. People were also weary with air raids, wartime life and rationing, and were aware that there were more difficulties to endure.

In the final part of this review of VE Day, we explore the legacy of the necessary war on Canada.

VE Day Civvy St
Demobilized Canadian veterans await interviews with rehabilitation counsellors in Toronto, date unknown. Left to right are Privates E. Robinson and D. Owens, Trooper J.A. Lenartowicz, and Sergeant E.J. O’Keefe.
LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA 3194885

It was not the end of the war

In May 1945 thousands of Allied serviceman were still fighting in the Far East and thousand were held as prisoners of war in terrible conditions. The battle conditions had been some of the toughest of the war. This finally ended in victory for the Allies, but not after continuing heavy casualties on both sides. Japan surrendered on August 14th, and the act of surrender signed on September 2nd.

The Legacy of the Necessary War in Canada

After the war, there was widespread unemployment in Canada, this brought discontent and unrest, which led to the creation of programs for the one million returning veterans. There was also a want to ease the transition back to civilian life, and reward those who had served in the war.

Prime Minister King, who had lost his beloved nephew in the Battle of the Atlantic promised support ‘the man who was offering his life voluntarily for the service of his country’. There were cash payments issued for length of time in uniform, along with loans for purchasing farms, starting businesses, and buying homes, and also retraining programs. This included the fifty thousand women who served in the Armed Forces.

VE Day injured
Canadian soldier Aubrey McLean uses crutches at a hospital in England in June 1945, two months after losing his lower right leg to a mine while fighting in the Netherlands. In later years, McLean served in leadership roles with the War Amputations of Canada organization in Nova Scotia.
NANCY MCLEAN

University access was granted to veterans when before only the people who could afford education gained entry, apart from a few scholarship winners. Universities had to expand to meet the needs of fifty four thousand veterans turned students. This State support became the Veterans Charter, with its grants, programs and educational opportunities.

The State also cared for the around fifty five thousand wounded veterans providing health care similar to the programs offered after the First World War, despite there being no Universal Health Care yet in Canada.

VE Day War brides
War brides and their children line the railing of a ship bound from England to Canada in 1944.
CITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES G&M 102055

There were also the nearly fifty thousand ‘War Brides’ who had married Canadian soldier stationed overseas who arrived in Canada between 1945 and 1946. They and their children faced challenges adjusting to post war life in an unfamiliar country, but became part of the legacy of the war. They also were part of the first wave of the baby boom - more than a million births between 1945 and 1950.

Open post
Dancing to the Brian Zalo Mix at Maple Ridge Legion

Live Music at the Legion

Live Music at the Legion

The Maple Ridge Legion is the only place in Ridge and Pitt Meadows where you can listen and dance to live music three days a week. 

Friday and Saturday nights from 6.30pm to 10.30pm, and 2pm to 6pm on Sunday.

Come down and see what it’s all about. The bands change every weekend and cover a mixed genre of music styles, pop, rock, country and the classic songs that you know and love.

Check out who’s playing and when on our entertainment calendar.

Dancing to the Brian Zalo Mix

The Brian Zalo Mix

Open post
An image from Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows News of a young Bobby Seckler

Community donation

Community donation

An image from Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows News of a young Bobby Seckler
A cutout from a newspaper, date unknown, shows a 14-year-old Bobby Seckler when he was a member of the Maple Ridge Boxing Club, after winning the 106 pound division of the provincial Bronze Gloves championships in Cranbrook, B.C.. (Source: The News)

One of our veterans is behind a Branch donation, giving back to the Maple Ridge sports club where he found success as a teen.

Thanks to a request from Rob Seckler we donated $500 to the Maple Ridge Boxing Club.

Seckler, aka Punchy, was part of the boxing club as a teen. He fought out of the club for two and a half years from 1980 to 1983, and during that time he won the 106 pound division of the provincial Bronze Gloves championships in Cranbrook, B.C. when he was 14-years-old.

He would go on to win a handful of fights out of the Maple Ridge Club before moving onto to other clubs , winning the bronze, emerald, and silver gloves at different provincial championships between 1983-84.

Seckler thought he would turn pro, but when a friend was injured in the ring, he had second thoughts, envisioning a life of multiple concussions and various other injuries.

So, he joined the army instead in 1985 when he was 17-years-old.

Read the full story at Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows News

We are so very thankful to be a part of this feel-good, full-circle, member's story and happy to help out all the very worthy community organizations!

Open post
Legion Exec - Judy

Meet the Executive – Judy Ballard

Meet the Executive - Judy Ballard

Legion Exec - JudyI have been a Member of Legion 88 since 2009. I went to the first meeting in January to pledge my allegiance to the Legion. I stayed for that first meeting and saw how the Legion was run.

In 2010 I decided to run for Executive, was elected and did the Youth Education portfolio for 6 years until I retired from work. I then took on the Poppy Campaign for 5 years. During that time I ran for table officer and continued helping in any way I could.

So why did I want to become a Legion Executive? Because of my Dad. He was not a Veteran in the eyes of the Legion. We came from Denmark where my Dad was in the Danish underground when the war broke out. Many times he was captured and released until the final time he was caught and sent to a work camp somewhere in Austria. We are not sure of exactly where he was but when he came home he had what was called "Shell Shock" which is now called PTSD. If it was not for Allied forces who liberated his camp, I would not be here doing all I can for Legion 88.

It is an Honour and a privilege to serve.

Who else is on our 2024 Executive? Find out here.

Open post

What’s on at The Legion?

What’s on at The Legion?

Tuesday Night is Games Night

Come down to Maple Ridge Legion for games night every Tuesday beginning at 6.30pm. You can play Darts, Euchre or Crib, and you don’t have to be a member to check it out as long as you're signed in by a current Legion member!

Come early and have dinner and a drink before you play. The menu is viewable in the ‘Lounge and Kitchen’ tab.

Please consider becoming a member of the Royal Canadian Legion to support our branch, see ‘Membership’ for details.

Darts

Darts at the Legion is a mixed league and you don’t have to know how to play, beginners are welcome. The League runs from September to May, with games starting at 7pm. The cost is $50 a year if you decide to join, with the money going to trophies and a banquet at the end of the year. There is a charge for entry to some tournaments if you get serious about your darts game!

You can come alone or with a friend, there are a minimum of 4 people a team, the only ask is that you bring your own darts. There are usually 8-9 teams on a Tuesday night, so it gets exciting.

The Darts team at the Legion also play the Army and Navy in Maple Ridge, so there is a friendly rivalry. If you want to practice in the day, you are welcome to come to the Legion and practice. A Legion member needs to sign you in (it’s a max of 3 non members to one Legion member for the sign in), and there is always someone happy to do that in the short term.

The contact for Darts is Donna Knox at 778 888 5481. Please call if you have questions.

Crib

Crib at the Legion on Tuesday night starts at 7pm, be there at 6.45pm ready to play or learn, but for Crib you do need to bring a partner. Tuesday night is 10 card crib and beginners are welcome!

The cost is $5 to play, and all money goes towards prizes, prize draws and a Christmas Dinner. You do not have to be a member of the Legion, but you will require a member to sign you in.

There is also the opportunity to play 5 card crib on a Monday night at the Legion, at the same time, 6.45pm for 7pm and you again require a partner.

Crib is very popular, on the night we visited there were 11 tables running for Crib each with 4 players!

The contact for Crib is Linda Cole, 604 463 5091 Cell 604 561 2650, please call if you have questions.

Euchre

Euchre at the Legion starts at 6.45pm, so be there at 6.30pm so you can get a drink, maybe earlier if you would like to try our great kitchen menu!

It runs all year round every Tuesday, and they do prefer people who know how to play or at least have an idea. The group is very welcoming and is always willing to share tips and tricks for how to play, new players are always welcome. You don’t need to bring a partner to play, except on the second Tuesday of the month.

The cost is $5 to play, but you can win that money back, and more! The team also plays in Provincials with other Legions, the next Provincial Crib Tournament is September 20th and 21st.

The contact for Euchre is Tom Miller 604 313 6463, call if you have questions.

Open post
Judy Ballard receiving Branch Presidents Medal

Branch Medal

Our President receives her Branch Medal

Judy Ballard receiving Branch Presidents MedalOur current President, Judy Ballard received her Branch President Medal at the General Meeting on April 21st.

The medal was presented by Al Casswell, our Chairman.

Congratulations, Judy, we're proud to have you as our President

 

Open post
Legion Exec - Tom - IG

Meet a Veteran – Tom Gardener

Meet a Veteran - Tom Gardener

Legion Exec - Tom - IGTom was born in England and joined the British Army in 1953 at the age of 20, as part of conscription following the Second World War.  He joined the Royal Engineers as a Reservist, and served for two years stationed in Dartmouth UK and Germany. He completed his basic training at Southwood Camp near Farnborough.

He joined the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers Reserves (known then as the Militia), which was formed in 1539 during the reign of King Henry VIII, making it the second oldest regiment of the British Army. He then moved to the Royal Engineer Reserves in Weston-Super-Mare as part of his compulsory service until the reorganization of the British Army Reserves when he went to 3 Troop in Bristol.

He worked his way up to Staff Sargent, then became Sargent Major of 100 Squadron in Newport for three years, which is the maximum term for that role. During this time he travelled to Germany to join exercises with other branches of the British Armed Forces.

Tom immigrated to Canada with his wife Rosemary after his son (also a Veteran) had moved to BC, and joined the Maple Ridge Legion in 2012. He joined the Colour Party, and was soon made Sargent at Arms for our branch, and served in that role until 2023. He is now part of the Executive in charge of funerals and is the Cadet Liaison Officer, and continues to lead the Honour Guard for the celebration of life that is available for all Veterans.

In his younger days, Tom played rugby and soccer, and in summer played cricket. He still likes to watch these sports on TV. He is a keen gardener and grows lots of veggies in his garden. He is also a great cook!  He has three sons, two still in UK, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. You'll also find Tom visiting his beloved wife of sixty four years, Rosemary, every other day in the care home where she now lives.

Open post
Vimy Ridge Memorial

The Battle of Vimy Ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge
Photo credit: Veterans Canada website

April 9th - 12th 1917

In the summer of 1914 the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand resulted in an international crisis, due to political tensions and the complex military alliances of the era, and in August the fighting had begun.

The First World War involved Britain (and her Empire), France, Russia and the United States against Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.

Canada, whose external affairs at that time were governed by the United Kingdom, automatically joined the war once Britain declared it.

After more than two and a half years at war, in the Spring of 1917, Canadian forces were part of the Western Front, a line stretching for nearly 1000 km from the coast of Belgium, to the border of Switzerland. Life in the trenches was miserable, soldiers faced mud and cold, as well as rats, lice and fleas. There was a ’No Mans Land’ between the opposing trenches of mud, barbed wire and shell craters, with enemy machine gun fire, artillery and snipers.

Vimy Ridge
Photo credit: Veterans Canada website
Vimy Ridge
Photo credit: Veterans Canada website

A major attack was planned for April 2017, in Arras, France, as part of the Allied offensive. The Canadians were tasked with capturing Vimy Ridge.

Vimy Ridge is a long, high hill that Germany had captured early in the war. They had made it into a strong defensive position, with tunnels, trenches, and soldiers with machine guns and artillery.

The Canadians took part in rigorous training and planning for the battle. Models of the trench system were built and the soldiers trained on what to do, they also raided German positions to gather intelligence. Tunnels were dug beneath the German lines filled with explosives to be detonated during the attack.

For a week before the attack there was a massive artillery barrage from the Allied forces. More than a million shells rained down and the Germans came to call this the ‘Week of Suffering’

Vimy Ridge
Photo credit: Veterans Canada website

The Battle of Vimy Ridge

The battle of Vimy Ridge began at 0530 on Easter Monday, April 9th 1917.  There was wind driven snow and sleet, and machine gun fire, for the first wave of 15,000-20,000 Canadian soldiers to fight through.

The Canadians had a precise line of Artillery fire move ahead at a set rate and time, known as a ‘creeping barrage’. The infantrymen followed closely which allowed them to capture German positions before the enemy soldiers could leave their underground bunkers. This attack was timed to the minute.

The assault proceeded on and by noon most of the ridge was captured, but not without a great number of casualties. The main height on the ridge, known as ‘Hill 145’ was taken on the morning of April 10th. Two days later the Canadians took the last height of the hill and the Battle of Vimy Ridge was over. 

The Germans were forced to withdraw 3km east. The allies now commanded the heights overlooking the Douai Plain, which was still occupied by the enemy.

Vimy Ridge
Photo credit: Veterans Canada website

Four Canadian soldiers earned the Victoria Cross, the highest medal for military valour, when they captured enemy machine gun positions in separate actions.  The Canadian Corps, along with the British Corps in the South, had captured more ground, prisoners and artillery than any previous British offensive of the war.

The battle of Vimy Ridge, although a great success militarily, suffered more than 10,600 casualties, of which 3.600 were fatal.  Canada would see 66,000 Canadians losing their lives, and over 170,000 wounded by the end of the First World War. 

This military triumph helped Canada bring a stronger sense of national identity and raised our international stature. It helped Canada earn a separate signature on the Treaty of Versailles that formally ended the war.

Today, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial sits on top of Hill 145, and is inscribed with the names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who were listed as ‘missing, presumed dead’ in France during the First World War. It stands as a tribute to all who served our country and paid the ultimate price to help ensure the peace and freedom we enjoy today.

Vimy Ridge Memorial
Photo credit: Veterans Canada website

Veterans want Canadians to understand the price of freedom. They are passing the torch to the people of Canada, so the memory of their sacrifices will continue, and the values they fought for will live on in all of us. Find out more about Vimy Ridge on the Government of Canada website in the Remembrance section.

Open post
Legion Exec - John

Meet the Executive – John Yoxall

Meet the Executive - John Yoxall

Legion Exec - JohnJohn first joined the Royal Canadian Legion in Maple Ridge in 2009. He became the Second Vice President in December 2023 and will serve a two year term.

He has been a member of the Colour Party for Remembrance Day and many other occasions for several years, and has lead the Honour Guard at the Celebration of Life for many veterans.

He is a Veteran, and served in the British Army as a Metalsmith in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) for 12 years, after joining as a boy soldier at the age of 16. During his time in the military he was posted to Norway, Northern Ireland, Canada, Cyprus and several army bases in Germany.

His goal for our Legion is to make Veterans and their families the main focus, and to help support younger Veterans in particular. He would like to raise awareness of Operational Stress Injury, in particular Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how that affects many Veterans both young and old. He would like to encourage more people to join the Legion and to volunteer.

In his spare time he tries to get in his 10,000 steps a day and once he retires would like to travel. He has been known to frequent the Legion Lounge.

Who else is on our 2024 Executive? Find out here.

Posts navigation

1 2 3 4
Scroll to top