The average age of a Canadian veteran who served in the Second World War is 87. So while more than 140,000 are still with us, the sad truth is that preserving their rich legacy is quite literally a race against time.
It’s one being led by the Historica-Dominion Institute. Since June 2009, its staff has gathered about 2,000 veteran testimonials—1,100 of the interviews are available at thememoryproject.com—and has digitized 8,000 wartime mementoes, including letters, photos and diaries. And now, just in time for Remembrance Day, comes We Were Freedom, a book featuring 65 of the most gripping war stories that have been collected, including tales of battle, bravery and loyalty. Some, including Allan Smith’s riveting story of life inside a German labour camp, and that of Betty Dimock, a nurse who tended to the wounded during the North Africa campaign.
These oral histories personalize the war and provide a first-hand account that would otherwise be lost. Many of the stories are dramatic and hair-raising. Others are charming, touching, even funny. All are compelling. And now, thanks to the site, unforgettable.