Julie Mungall places her painted stones at the Brookside veterans cemetery in Winnipeg, Saturday, October 24, 2020. Mungall is commemorating Remembrance Day by painting poppies and other designs on rocks and hiding them around the city, sometimes in plain sight, for people to pick up and take home with them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Julie Mungall places her painted stones at the Brookside veterans cemetery in Winnipeg, Saturday, October 24, 2020. Mungall is commemorating Remembrance Day by painting poppies and other designs on rocks and hiding them around the city, sometimes in plain sight, for people to pick up and take home with them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Most British Columbians are unaware of WWII battles fought on our own shores

Remembrance Day research shows Canadians know more about European WWII battles than attacks closer to home

Many people across Canada will be honouring veterans on Nov. 11, but a new survey suggests most British Columbians are unaware of the history that happened on our own shores during the Second World War.

Leading up to Remembrance Day, Leger Marketing conducted a survey on the behalf of Ancestry, a DNA history company, and found that less than a third of British Columbians are familiar with B.C.’s contribution during the WWII.

While the history of world wars are slugged away in numerous history books, the study illustrates that only 38 per cent of B.C. residents would like to learn more about their own family history on the province’s shorelines.

One of B.C.’s historical moments during the Second World War is the Aleutian Islands campaign, and only a mere one per cent of B.C. residents are aware that this event took place.

The Canadian army, navy and air force joined the U.S. to regain control of the small island chain off the coast of Alaska.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII. The Ancestry survey reveals that while 55 per cent of British Columbians say they are familiar with larger battles, such as the D-Day landings in Normandy and 25 per cent say they are aware of the Dieppe Raid, not many are aware that the war actually reached Canadian shores.

Simon Pearce, a military genealogist and one of Ancestry’s progenealogists, said that Canada’s efforts on home soil played a “vital role in the war effort” and are stories that should be honoured alongside the European front lines.

“Canada played a key role in some of the Second World War’s most well-known battles, but let’s not forget the ways Canadians served closer to home – bravely defending the country’s borders from attacks, training pilots to serve overseas and facing treacherous waters to deliver essential supplies across the Atlantic.”

To help Canadians discover and learn more about Canada’s veterans, Ancestry is opening up free access to all global military records on their website from Nov. 2 to Nov. 11.

Ancestry uncovered an untold personal story of Lieutenant Sidney Vessey, who was killed in action during the Aleutian Islands Campaign in 1943. He was the first Canadian casualty during the invasion.

They have released a letter written to Vessey’s wife, Dolly in December 1943, which shared the circumstances of his death.

“…Lieutenant Vessey was instantly killed by the explosion of a land mine while investigating an enemy position at Kiska, Alaska…”

Lesley Anderson is a family historian from Ancestry.

“Learning about the role of our ancestors played in World War II can provide many of us with a personal, poignant link to the Remembrance Day commemorations and help us understand how the conflict shaped our families’ lives,” Anderson said.

“Now is the ideal time to search through historic records and images that bring home the humanity and individual stories of wartime.”

Ancestry is encouraging British Columbians to find a deeper personal connection to Remembrance Day by discovering the untold stories of how their ancestors contributed to WWII, at home and overseas.

Remembrance Day

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Langley RCMP are on scene at an incident on 232nd Street in South Langley as of Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Langley Advance Times files)
Police incident unfolding in South Langley

Mounties may have taken one person into custody

Move430 aims to encourage Langley residents to be active while raising funds to help kids play sports (KidSport image)
A virtual get-active challenge to Langley residents

MOVE430 fundraiser by Langley KidSport will help young athletes take up organized sports

Max and Charlie found their forever home through LAPS. (Special to The Star)
Langley Animal Protection Society says goodbye to longtime volunteers

Dog walkers Donna Linke and Pauline Markle have retired after more than 15 years of service

Langley Township council passed a tree protection bylaw in 2019, but one resident says the municipality does not do enough to preserve valuable trees. (Black Press Media)
LETTER: The last straw

An Aldergrove resident mourns the loss of 125-year-old Douglas fir tree

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

(Government of B.C.)
Backcountry skiers are dwarfed by the mountains as they make their way along a mountain ridge near McGillivray Pass Lodge located in the southern Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Avalanche Canada has issued a special warning to people who use the backcountry in the mountains of western Alberta and eastern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Avalanche Canada special warning for mountains in western Alberta, eastern B.C.

Avalanche Canada also says everyone in a backcountry party needs essential rescue gear

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

Photo: Surrey RCMP
Surrey RCMP arrests two boys, age 16, during dial-a-dope investigation in Whalley

Sergeant Elenore Sturko said one boy is ‘alleged to have been in possession of a loaded handgun at the time of his arrest’

Most Read