Hamilton pays tribute to Dieppe veterans

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Posted with permission from the Hamilton Spectator
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Hamilton Spectator
By Kelly Noseworthy
August 19, 2016


Their uniforms were decorated with numerous medallions. They stood at full attention under the bright light cast by the morning sun.

Veterans Fred Engelbrecht, 96, and Ken Curry, 94, saluted as "The Last Post" played during a commemoration ceremony for the Dieppe Raid on Friday morning.

It was 74 years ago when nearly 600 members of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry descended on the beach of a small Nazi-held coastal town in France.

Engelbrecht and Curry are the last two known surviving members of the RHLI who were in the raid.

"It's been a beautiful day for me," said Curry of the well attended morning ceremony at the Dieppe Memorial on Beach Boulevard and Manor Avenue. "I feel quite honoured by all the people who turned up to be here."

Recounting the horrific battle, he said: "I was 24 when I was laying there watching my comrades die and, luckily, I survived … I figured someone up there loves me because it was a massacre and, luckily, I was just wounded slightly."

He said the past year has been "tough" after losing his wife six months ago and his longtime friend and, Jack McFarland, another Dieppe veteran.

"She's been here with me every time … luckily she might be up there looking down," he said.

Engelbrecht, despite having a "rotten cold," said he wouldn't miss the day for anything.

"I knew a lot of those people. Their life was robbed and I'm still here. Why me?" he said as the tears streamed down the side of his cheek. "I get emotional at these times."

Jack McFarland Jr. said the remembrance and respect toward his family has been helpful after his father's death in February. He was 95.

"His presence is definitely here," he said. "He'll always be here."

A poignant time, the services were held in partnership between RHLI and the North Wall Riders Association.

Keven Ellis, Steel City chapter president, said his second- cousin, Herbert Shrubsall, also a veteran, was killed in the raid.

"For the last two boys of Dieppe to have that crowd come out and support them, it means the world to them."

The August 1942 battle was part of an Allied attack that involved a force of 6,000, of which 5,000 were Canadians. Nearly 200 RHLI soldiers were killed and more than 900 Canadian lives were lost overall. About 2,000 were taken prisoner.

Stan Clewlow, 93, shed many tears during the service as he remembered his days of service and all those men who lost their lives. He missed taking part in the raid, but was assigned to sort through belongings of RHLI members who were not going home. He landed in Normandy, however, six days after D-Day on June 6, 1944.

"A German shrapnel hit me in the back. It just scraped my back," he said, recalling the time he was guarding an equipment depot. "If I had been back just a half an inch, I wouldn't be here today."

Provided they are well enough, Curry and Engelbrecht hope to attend next year's services.

"I'm glad he's still here and I'm glad I'm still here … I'm hoping I'll be here next year on the 75th," Curry said while Engelbrecht said "Why not? … I'll probably be here."

The service was led by minister and retired Lt.- Col. Bryan Robertson.



knoseworthy@thespec.com

905-526-3199


http://www.thespec.com/news-story/6816459-hamilton-pays-tribute-to-dieppe-veterans/
 
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