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The Americans who died for Canada in WWII



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Post Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:29 pm

The Americans who died for Canada in WWII

Hi guys, here a little article I have found on the internet (source Liveleak). It might interest you ;o)

The Americans who died for Canada in WWII

WASHINGTON Richard Fuller Patterson was a strapping young flyer with a world of promise when he died, alone and forgotten, almost 72 years ago in the cockpit of his Spitfire.

Shot down over Belgium at age 26, with a Canadian insignia on his arm and his American citizenship in doubt. That's how the end came for this graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School.

Patterson was an heir to a name that still means something in Virginia: the Pattersons of Richmond founded the iconic Lucky Strike tobacco brand that the whole world, it seemed, was smoking during the Second World War. "Fuller," as the charismatic fighter pilot was known, was the golden boy.

He was also a gun-jumper: one of the more than 840 American volunteers who would not wait until their country joined the war against Hitler. Instead, they put their passports on the line, joining, training — and, eventually, dying — as members of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Why are they forgotten?

For one thing, the U.S. didn't look kindly on the cross-border surge, going so far as to warn those heading to Canada that they might not be welcome back. In Patterson's case, it didn't help that his luck ran out on arguably the most ominous day of the 20th century — Dec. 7, 1941, when the devastating Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor awakened the sleeping American giant.

By the time the U.S. entered the war, some 9,000 Americans had already joined the RCAF.

Fast-forward seven decades, and Patterson and his brothers-in-Canadian-arms are finally getting their due as the first-ever remembrance of those early American volunteers takes place in Richmond, Va.

Tuesday's ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial saw the unveiling of a monument to the 16 Virginians known to have volunteered and died as Canadian airmen. The memorial features twin seals — the Virginia state insignia and the Royal Canadian Air Force crest — cast from antique aluminum from a Canadian Halifax bomber that was shot down over Europe and recovered in 1997.

"We're tremendously proud to finally be remembering these Americans who put everything on the line, including the risk of renouncing their U.S. citizenship, to fight with Canada," said Jeb Hockman, a spokesman for the Virginia War Memorial.

"It certainly isn't common knowledge to Americans. And I don't think many Canadians are aware of it, either. But the families of these men remember. And now we do, too."

U.S. officials credit a Canadian military researcher, Karl Kjarsgaard of Canada's Bomber Command Museum in Nanton, Alta., for years of painstaking research. Kjarsgaard single-handedly began building a database of the American RCAF volunteers. Working with Canadian, British and U.S. war records, Kjarsgaard tallied the more than 840 Americans killed in action wearing Canadian colours. As he began amassing names, Kjarsgaard went looking for living relatives.

"These men are my heroes — the Canadian bomber crews who only had one chance in four of finishing a combat tour without being killed," Kjarsgaard told the Star.

"And during my 20 years of research into the 16,000 Canadians killed in the RCAF during World War II, I started to notice, 'Hey, there are a lot of Americans here.' . . . It was a revelation to me. And we're still finding more. It's the fog of war — things get lost. But now at least we know the magnitude of something we've missed in our history."

Most of these young American rookies made their way first to Toronto for processing at a war-era RCAF induction centre at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. The next stop, said Kjarsgaard, was Union Station, where the men fanned out by train for bomber and gunnery training. Some went to Alberta, others remained in Ontario. They were then shipped to England, first to a manning depot and finally to squadrons throughout the U.K. to replace men already killed in action.

What were they thinking? Kjarsgaard tracked down letters home from one U.S. volunteer, Flight Sgt. Tom Withers of Roseland, Va., that illuminate the motivations.

Writing to his parents from Toronto in January 1941, Withers said he felt he had no choice but to join the Canadians, "since everything that I, as well as both of you, believe in is now in a very precarious position.

"And there is no question of serving Canada to the neglect of my mother country. He who serves Great Britain or any of its Dominions also serves the U.S. and vice-versa. Our differences are in arbitrary boundary lines only."

Some 16 months later, Withers wrote to an uncle from England, explaining he had the option of transferring to an American unit, now that the United States was in the war.

"But I shall not do so," Withers wrote. "My real reason for remaining with the Canadians is that I started with them. They gave me my first chance to fight, hence I will stay."

Two months later, on the night of July 27, 1942, Withers and his crewmates were shot down over Hamburg, Germany. Six of the seven aboard the Halifax bomber died, including Withers. A lone Canadian survivor was captured, becoming a prisoner of war.

Among the relatives at Wednesday's ceremony in Richmond was R. Fuller Patterson's first cousin, 87-year-old Henry Gregory, himself a WWII veteran, having served in the Philippines with the American 25th Infantry.

"Fuller was a bit older than me. I was still a teenager. But I remember him vividly. He was a character, just full of life and energy, very athletic, very involved. And when he went off to Canada, that was the last we saw of him," Gregory told the Star.

"Then Pearl Harbor happened. And then, a few days later, we got word that Fuller had been killed the same day. Our family was devastated. But there was no funeral, his body never came back from Europe. And all these years, the story was lost. So we're very grateful that these memories are being marked today."

Kjarsgaard is hoping the Virginia memorial will spark interest for similar commemoratives in other states. More than 50 Californians, for example, died in service of the RCAF. The count from New York state, meanwhile, is more than 120 Americans killed in action wearing Canadian insignia.

"Hardly anybody in Canada knows about them, hardly any Americans know about them. These men just fell through the cracks," said Kjarsgaard.

"It is easy in this day and age for Canadians to operate on the assumption that freedom is automatic and nobody paid. Somebody did pay — including more young Americans than anyone previously realized."



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Post Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:33 pm

Re: The Americans who died for Canada in WWII

Yes, Ted, so many military people died or were seriously wounded in hope for liberty. The world was thrown into the war together. It should remember the cost in lives which gives us the opportunity to live and have a good life today.

Those were real heros.

Thanks, Ted



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Post Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:50 am

Re: The Americans who died for Canada in WWII

Actually there's a great many minorities who fought in WW2 and have been forgotten. Examples are the Hungarians in Finland, or the Spanish in Russia, or the negroes in the RAF. I'm sure there's plenty more, and looking at the end credits of the 1960's Battle of Britain film, I see all sorts of nationalities involved in flying for the RAF, including an israeli. Seven americans too, of whom, one died (he suffered engine failure after takeoff, and deliberately crash landed fatally to avoid hitting a school - his name has been honoured there)

I do recall however someone encountering a canadian pilot flying for the Luftwaffe in 1945.

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