The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Vets giving D-Day one last salute wonder about the world they're leaving behind

  • Print

OTTAWA - Some Canadian veterans of D-Day and the Normandy campaign say they have mixed feelings about the world that emerged from the bloodshed of the Second World War.

"I'm proud of what I did, and what the Western world did. It was something that needed to be done," says Larry Wulff, 92, a former Royal Canadian Air Force leading aircraftsman and radar operator, who went overseas in the early 1940s and served until the end of the war in Europe.

But Wulff says he misses the strong sense of purpose that the war gave his generation, whether social, economic or political.

"Purpose now seems to be to get a faster car, or other material things," he said in an interview.

Wulff says the politics of division that has emerged in the last two decades in Canada, the U.S. and other parts of the world especially grates.

"The political morass we seem to be in all of time and the infighting and the negative advertising between all of the parties" are dispiriting, he said, also citing modern episodes of ethnic cleansing he had hoped would be stopped by the Allied victory.

A number of veterans interviewed by The Canadian Press about their Second World War experiences expressed similar misgivings, which historian Desmond Morton says is understandable.

For a time following the war, the veterans got the world they had been fighting for, at least in the economic sense. There was widespread poverty prior to the postwar boom and by the end of the 1950s, the higher standard of living meant only 15 per cent of the population in Canada could be classified as poor.

But Morton, an emeritus professor at Montreal's McGill University, says the old soldiers rightly feel that the gains they made won't be enjoyed much longer by their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

"They feel it's slipping away and it may be because most people today don't understand what they should be fighting for," he said.

"The ability to live; to eat; to put a roof over your family's head, which are pretty important, basic, basic needs. And we weren't meeting those needs in 1939. I think the world is better than it was in 1939 in all sorts of ways. It's also got some pretty horrible features."

Cyril Roach, 89, a former Royal Navy engineer who served on a tank-landing ship all over the world, including D-Day, says he had hoped for a more stable world.

He says the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, brought with it great hope that the world his comrades fought for was finally at hand.

But he says there is more even more instability today.

"We've got issues in Israel, Iraq, Iran — you name it," said Roach.

"We fought for freedom in this world. We're still free, but look at our previous ally (Russia) stirring up trouble that need never be."

The Russian annexation of Crimea has taken the world back to a time when international borders were redrawn by force, he says.

Both Roach and Wulff participated in the Historica Canada Memory Project, where thousands of veterans have shared their stories. For more information: http://www.thememoryproject.com/

Follow @Murray_Brewster on Twitter

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

The greening of Elphaba the Wicked Witch in Wicked

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young goose gobbles up grass at Fort Whyte Alive Monday morning- Young goslings are starting to show the markings of a adult geese-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 20– June 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What do you think of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s comment that Tina Fontaine’s slaying was a crime, and not part of a larger sociological problem?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google