World War Two

Remembering the 75th Anniversary of D-Day - June 6, 1944 - The Battle of Normandy

Today marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the beginning of the Battle of Normandy during the Second World War. On June 6, 1944 and during the long summer that followed, men from all over the world came to fight in Normandy to defeat Nazism and re-establish freedom. D-Day would be the opening chapter of the Battle of Normandy which raged until late August 1944 and was a pivotal step in the liberation of Western Europe and the end of the war.

On June 6, 1944 soldiers from the United States, Great Britain, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Norway, Poland and Australia, along with some 14,000 Canadian soldiers came ashore at the beaches of Normandy in occupied France. Thousands of Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force service members also took part in Operation Overlord, as the massive Allied assault was code-named.

On D-Day, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division landed on Juno Beach. The Canadian assault troops stormed ashore in the face of fierce opposition from German strongholds and mined beach obstacles. The soldiers raced across the wide-open beaches swept with machine gun fire, and stormed the gun positions. In fierce hand-to-hand fighting, they fought their way into the towns of Bernières, Courseulles and St. Aubin and then advanced inland, securing a critical bridgehead for the allied invasion. The victory was a turning point in World War II and led to the liberation of Europe and the defeat of Nazi Germany.

The price they paid was high - the battles for the beachhead cost 340 Canadian lives and another 574 wounded. John Keegan, eminent British historian who wrote Six Armies in Normandy, stated the following concerning the Canadian 3rd Division on D-Day: “At the end of the day, its forward elements stood deeper into France than those of any other division. The opposition the Canadians faced was stronger than that of any other beach save Omaha. That was an accomplishment in which the whole nation could take considerable pride.”

We currently do not have record of any Albert County men killed on D-day, a number however were killed during the Battle of Normandy, including two brothers born in Hopewell Cape. Major Ronald Bennett, Black Watch (The Royal Highland Regiment of Canada), and his brother Lieutenant Harrison Bennett, Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, who both laid down their lives for Canada in Normandy, 75 years ago, in August 1944. They are both buried, about 10 rows apart, in the Canadian War Cemetery at Bretteville-sur-Laize in Normandy.

Major Edwin Ronald Bennett was mentioned in Despatches, 1st Bn., Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada. He was born in Hopewell Cape on May 4, 1917. He was killed in action on August 5, 1944 at the age of 27. He was the son of Capt. Ronald V. Bennett and Elva I. Bennett, of Sackville, New Brunswick. He was married to Dorothy Janet Bennett, of Montreal, PQ. They had no children.

Lieutenant Henry Harrison Bennett, Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Machine Gun), Canadian Infantry Corps was killed in action on August 14, 1944 at the age of 24. He was born in Hopewell Cape on February 10, 1920. He was the son of Capt. Ronald V. Bennett and Elva I. Bennett, of Sackville, New Brunswick.

They were the nephews of Prime Minster RB Bennett. RB Bennett was said to have been extremely proud of his nephews decision to serve in the Canadian Army, and was devastated to hear of their passing only weeks after visiting him at his home in Juniper Hill.

They did not grow old, we that were left grow old
Age has not wearied not the years condemned.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We have remembered them.

The Passing of an Albert County Hero – William Henry (Bill) Balser Sr., March 31, 2019 - 95 Years Old

The Passing of an Albert County Hero – William Henry (Bill) Balser Sr., March 31, 2019 - 95 Years Old

William Henry (Bill) Balser Sr., 95, from Stoney Creek NB, passed away peacefully with family by his side at Lakeview Manor in Riverview NB, on March 31, 2019. 

Raised on the family farm in Albert County, Bill volunteered for military service with the RCAF and served from July 1941 to September 1945.

The Passing of an Albert County Hero – Harold Clifton Reid 1927-2018

The Passing of an Albert County Hero – Harold Clifton Reid 1927-2018

If you pass through Hopewell Cape in the square by the cannons you will see two black granite benches which face the guns looking out over the bay. These were donated to the museum by Harold Clifton Reid. They bear the inscription, “Donated by Harold Reid, World War II (1943-44) and Korean War Veteran (1950-52), Regular reserve (1954 -57).” They grace the square where Harold spent many days playing on the guns as youth. Read more...

The Passing of an Albert County Hero – James “Jim” West, DFC June 27, 1924 – March 4, 2017

James Watson West was born in Hopewell Hill on June 27th, 1924 the son of the late Clifford C. and Mary "May" (Archibald) West. He graduated from Riverside Consolidated School in 1941. He enlisted in Moncton in 1942 with the Royal Canadian Air Force and headed overseas in 1943. He served with the 420 Snowy Owl Squadron. In 1945 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He returned home aboard the Ile de France in 1945. 

Jim West was a well known and valuable resource for the museum sharing his love of the history of Albert County. He was involved with the Museum since it's beginning and continued over the years to support and assist in numerous projects.

His Distinguished Flying Cross citation reads: 

Award effective 8 September 1945 as per London Gazette dated 25 September 1945 and AFRO 1768/45 dated 23 November 1945.  Home in Hopewell Hill, New Brunswick; enlisted Moncton, 20 July 1942.  Trained at No.3 ITS (graduated 1 May 1943), No.4 BGS (graduated 13 November 1943) and No.4 AOS (graduated 14 January 1944.  Award sent by registered mail 28 June 1949.  No citation other than "completed...numerous operations against the enemy in the course of which [he has] invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty."  DHist file 181.009 D.1746 (PAC RG.24 Vol.20608) has recommendation dated 19 April 1945 when he had flown 29 sorties (188 hours 50 minutes); recommendation read:

"This man has proven himself a very good, resourceful and efficient bomb aimer.  His tour included the bombing of many heavily defended targets, i.e. Magdeburg, Hanover, Hamburg and Munster.  This man at all times has been a co-operative crew member and has lent his whole-hearted aid to both pilot and navigator."

 Jim flew an amazing total of 37 sorties during the war. The first 29 are as follows: 5 January 1945 - Hanover (6.00) 6 January 1945 - Hanau (7.05) 13 January 1945 - Saarbrucken (7.35) 14 January 1945 - Grevenbroich (6.35) 16 January 1945 - Magdeburg (6.30) 28 January 1945 - Stuttgart (7.00) 1 February 1945 - Mainz (7.05) 2 February 1945 - Wanne Eickel (6.10) 4 February 1945 - Bonn (6.20) 17 February 1945 - Wesel (6.35) 20 February 1945 - Monheim (6.55) 21 February 1945 - Worms (7.35) 23 February 1945 - Essen (6.05) 24 February 1945 - Kamen (6.25) 27 February 1945 - Mainz (7.15) 1 March 1945 - Mannheim (7.00) 2 March 1945 - Cologne (6.00) 5 March 1945 - Chemnitz (9.00) 7 March 1945 - Hemmingstadt (6.30) 8 March 1945 - Hamburg (6.10) 10 March 1945 - Essen (5.55) 13 March 1945 - Wuppertal (5.50) 15 March 1945 - Castrop Rauxel (6.05) 19 March 1945 - Witten (7.20) 21 March 1945 - Rheine (4.40) 24 March 1945 - Gladback (6.00) 25 March 1945 - Munster (5.35) 31 March 1945 - Hamburg (5.45) 4 April 1945 - Harburg Rhenania (5.50)