In honour of Remembrance Day, we reprint, with permission, this poignant letter written by the late Stan Brown to his granddaughter Ashley. A well respected horseman for many years at Kawartha Downs, Stan served his country in World War II.
Stan Brown passed away in 2005 and his family honours his memory each Memorial Night at the Fraserville track. Here’s his letter:
Here are some of my memories of my time spent in the armed forces from Feb. 1942 until I was discharged in 1946 when I was back to the same place I started my career at the Exhibition grounds at Toronto.
I was eighteen years old when I started my basic training in Brantford, Ont. From there I went to Camp Borden Ont., from there I was sent to Camp Ipperwash for advance training. After training was complete we were given fourteen days leave and when that was over we were on our way to Truro, Nova Scotia, where we had a short stay and from there we are on our way to Liverpool England.
We trained in the Midlands where we slept in bell tents and washed and shaved in the open and no hot water. We left this camp in mid may of 1944 and were sent to the Southhampton area. All passes and leaves were cancelled. We knew there was something coming but had no idea as to when or where.
We were loaded on a mother ship approx. the second of June and spent the next five days in the English Channel but did not know where we were going until the night of June 5th when we were briefed and shown on maps where we were going to land in France.
We unloaded off the mother ship by going over the side and climbing down nets until we were in the landing craft. We landed on the beach June 8 /44. It was a sad sight to see so many of our boys dead on the beach and in the water. We were to be the reinforcements for the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry regiment, but the Queen’s Own Rifles had so many casualties we were sent there.
From the eighth of June until approx. the 10th of July when we got some relief from our second division, every day and night was rough. My buddy Leo Duphrane was about 6’2” tall and I’m 5’6”, so we had to dig a pretty deep slit trench for him. We had done guard duty every night from dark until daylight, each man would take his turn standing up for an hour while the others would sit down in the bottom of the trench and hide his cigarette.
We were given seven cigarettes each night. We were on an attack on the night of August 10th when I was shot through the shoulder and was out of action for approx. three weeks. I was sent back into action approx. fifth of September but not one man I knew in my old section. We continued through France and Belgium and into Holland on October 20th dug our slit trenches and prepared for the night. We just got settled for the night and we got orders to move forward and travel in the ditch as the road was mined. We had just got started in single file and I was leading the second section when we got a signal to halt. The men after a few moments got uneasy as we were standing in water fifteen inches deep.
All of a sudden an explosion and then two more explosions.Three of my boys lost four legs in land mines.
I am now seventy four years old but I will never forget the boys names, Milton, Fedorachuck, Carriere. It would sure be a great thing to see those men or hear from them as today is eleventh of November 1998.
Early morning Oct. 22/44 we were instructed an attack was to take place at daylight, it so happened I was to be lead man of our platoon and just had started up the ditch and turned around to my O.C and said is that the building I’m to get in? He said make a run for it, the first shell hit the ground approx. 10 feet away and I got shrapnel in both my legs and that finished my career in the lines.
I was operated on in Holland and sent back to Bramshott, England where I spent the next eight months in hospital and convalescent hospitals.
I hope that children will be able to grasp some of what I have been able to tell you of my experience of a very bad war and hope we never see another war.
George Stanley Milton Brown
B68628Rifleman Brown S. G.
1st Btn. B. Coy
Queens Own Rifles of Can