Lest We Forget…
On the 11th hour of the 11 day of the 11th month, marks the date and time the armies ceased fighting World War 1. On this day Canada remembers and honours our soldiers who fought for our freedom during all conflicts throughout the world.
I am thankful for the sacrifices made by those I do not know. I am lucky my family spoke of enduring the long years apart and on this day, I remember Jack Macfarlane and George Bilz.
Jack Macfarlane was my grandfather; born and raised in Edinburgh Scotland. He arrived in Canada with big dreams and fell in love with my grandmother ‘Josephine’. They had a daughter together in 1934, but when 1939 hit, Jack signed up immediately to fight for his country and the King of England (George the 6th). Jack’s health was cleared and he travelled to England where he began his journey as a ‘cook’ on a war ship on the high seas. I know nothing else of my grandfather other than he lived to return to his family in 1945. He was not wounded, but must have witnessed many atrocities that he kept deep inside his psyche, because in 1953, he committed suicide.
George Bilz was my great uncle. He was a fighter pilot in the 2nd World War. I have photos of some of the planes he flew, along with pictures of him in uniform. Family told stories about Uncle George being shot down over Germany more than once. He survived his injuries and returned home at the end of the war with a wife – a nurse he met while in England. ‘Joyce’ was our ‘war bride’. George and Joyce lived a modest life and raised their family, like many who returned home in 1945. I was 12 years old in 1976, when I met my Uncle George. He was in bed at his home suffering from Cancer, which I had been told was the result of shrapnel left in his body from his bomber being shot down during the War. The young, vibrant and energetic man from the old photo’s had faded and shrivelled from Cancer that took over his entire body. He suffered his last few weeks in the Veteran’s Wing at the Sunnybrook hospital, where he died.
Both these 2 men did not die in the war, but suffered the consequences of battle through both mental and physical conditions. They fought to allow me to speak freely in my Country and for that I am eternally grateful.
With tears in my eyes, lump in my throat, and heavy heart, I honour and remember these 2 men and all who fought for MY freedom on this day…
Thank you Grandpa and Uncle George… thank you all!