Qualified Driver (wheeled and tracked) on October 26, 1942.
Confirmed in rank of Corporal on December 9, 1942.
Promoted to the rank of Lance Sergeant on October 10, 1944.
Killed in action during the liberation of Biervliet, Netherlands, while supporting the 9th Infantry Brigade. The Highland Light Infantry of Canada taken Biervliet on October 11, 1944.
The 17th Duke of York's Royal Canadian Hussars (7th Reconnaissance Regiment, 7th RECCE) war diary reports on October 12, 1944: Squadrons spent the morning preparing for the push. At 1400 hrs the Regiment attacked with the purpose of straightening out the line from Biervliet (1810, Middenweg N61 between Magdalenadijk and Geertruidadijk), which had been taken by Highland Light Infantry on 11 October, to the inlet East of it. It was necessary to use flame to get the Germans out of their dug-out and slit trenches which honeycombed the dykes. The effect of shelling was practically nil. The Wasps (flame throwing carriers) were most successful and 170 PW's (prisoners of war) were taken during the course of the day.
A and C Squadrons quickly reached their objectives but could not continue as B Squadron had difficulty with their flame throwers. A Squadron did not have to use flame but C used theirs with excellent results. The Mortar Troop under command of Capt F. Cassidy was in position and gave very effective supporting fire. Anti Tank Troops under command of Lieutenants C.G. Sheppard and W.V. LeBlanc were attached to B and C Squadrons and took on opportunity shoots with great accuracy and results. A 20mm gun which had done much damage in the C Squadron area was knocked out by a direct hit. Numerous dug-outs suffered the same fate.
Part of WWII veteran's story: That afternoon, C Squadron made an attack on the position where the German 20mm had been the night before. They used our flame throwers and the carrier section. although the attack was successful, we lost L/Sgt. "Bill" MacKay and his buddy. Both were killed when they attempted to take some prisoners. Bill was a good friend of mine, we joined up the same day, my number was D/3515 and Bill's number was D/3555. Bill's buddy that day was a Sengalise French soldier. He had been picked up in France and given a Canadian uniform. He followed Bill very closely all the time and died beside him. J.F. McGowan.
Personal details have been collected from official Service Records and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. Some of the additional information has been provided by War Diaries, Libera Me (G.E. Spittael), Polder Fighting (R.W. Catsburg), Veterans Affairs Canada, WW2 Talk, Aircrew Remembered and other sources. The commonwealth-adegem.com website is not responsible for incorrect information.
Everything has been collected and processed voluntarily by Michael van de Velde, Netherlands. Along the way I had great support from expert researchers and other volunteers. Thank you!