My grandfather, Flight Lieutenant Newton Reid Brydon DFC served with the 408 Squadron in World War 2. He completed 47 bombing raids. No small task! He enlisted with his brother. Unfortunately his brother was killed after one week of action. Newton stayed in until the job was done. My mother just found a speech that he gave to a group of students in Hope BC where he lived in his later years. I sent it to my daughters principal today where she read it to the whole school. I hope you’ll share it as well.
I was fortunate to have many grandparents in the war. Hearing stories was my favorite growing up, looking at medals and log books.
They never got old.
I feel sad for the generations to come who won’t hear these stories first hand from our elders. ♥️
That said- here is a portion my grandfathers speech he used to grace and educate students in school with:
Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you about Remembrance Day.
We all know that the celebration of Remembrance Day, November 11, goes back to World War 1 when that day was set aside to honor and remember the thousands of Canadians and others who gave their lives in that war which was to end all wars.
Then came the ‘dirty thirties’ when Hitler and Mussolini came to power. They were determined to conquer the world and subject all of us to the freedom killing Nazi and Fascist dictatorships.
We remember that the Germans stopped when they reached the English Channel. They had conquered all of Europe including France, Poland, Holland, Belgium and many others.
We remember the Battle of Britain days when Royal Air Force pilots distinguished themselves in air battles with German fighters. We recall the feeling of great relief when Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. We knew then that down the road we would win.
Let me tell you of some of my memories of the war.
I joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941 when I was 20 years old. I trained to be a navigator on heavy bombers such as Wellingtons and Lancasters. I was sent overseas to England in March 1941 and from bases in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire flew on 47 raids on German and Italian industrial targets. I was on some raids or operations as they were then called when over 1000 bombers were sent out to hit one target in one night.
Our losses were very heavy, about 60% overall. I was lucky I lasted 2 years on an operational squadron. My younger brother who was also a navigator lasted one week. He was killed when his aircraft blew up after being hit by German fighters.
My wife Margaret also lost a brother. He too was in the Air Force and was lost out of Malta when he volunteered for an extra trip.
It used to be said that there were no atheists in the trenches in France in World War 1. I can tell you that there were no atheists in allied air craft flying over Germany. When I used to see other planes being shot down in flames around us as we flew to the target, I used to pray – just get me back to England tonight.
No, I didn’t bring back and English war bride. I got married two weeks before I went overseas to the girl that I met when she was aged 15. We’ve been married 60 years.
That was my wear. We joined the service for good reason even the many of us may not have known it at the time. Can you imagine what our world would be like today if we had not gone to flight in Europe and the Far East. Most of us would not have qualified for the master race that Hitler had in mind. We would have been treated like herds of cattle and slaughtered.
Yes, when we look in the history books and remember that 114,000 Canadians have died in the service of Canada as this nation has struggled against the forces of tyranny and despotism during three of the wars that have marked this past century.
I belong to an organization whose members will somehow keep the memories of those who served alive for all Canadians. The Royal Canadian Legion through its annual poppy and Remembrance campaign will continue to perpetuate the remembrances of those who died in war as well as those who served when called.
The Poppy on the lapel will continue to be a symbol that this is so.
That is the reason for Remembrance as a national ideal. That is the reason we distribute our poppies every November.
Lest We Forget, Lest we Forget.
They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them or the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. Thank you.