In December, Bob McEachern, Historian and Educator presented to grade 10 students from the regional schools The 12th Field Royal Canadian Artillery Regiment WWII Documentary – “Canada’s Phantom Regiment ” at the Norgan Theatre. Here are some of the students reactions:
My favourite part of the documentary was when they depicted the accidental friendly fire on our artillery. Not that it happened, but I was impressed by the way they showed it happen. It had a sense of action and had delivered the information with a sense of movement, that many other documentaries lack.
“ I can relate to WWII and the hardships families faced with losing loved ones as my Oma experienced many losses. When my Oma was a little girl, she lived in the Ukraine, but was of German descent. One day, her mother was escorting her aunt back to school in Kiev. When arriving in Kiev, they found out that both the German and Russian soldiers were coming. So, her mother and aunt escaped and made their way to Poland, where they were staying with a family. During their stay, Russian soldiers were tipped off that they were staying with this family and came in and threatened the family they were staying with, so the family ended up having to tell the soldiers where my Oma’s mother and aunt were. Her mother and aunt were beaten and taken to a concentration camp in Siberia, where they were forced to log for 48 hours straight without sleep. If they fell asleep they were beaten.
My Oma, her brother, aunt and her Oma fled to Odessa and were making their way to Germany to seek safety ( as they were of German descent ) and ended up in East Germany. Many years later, my Oma’s father, who was captured during the war and used as a translator, found out that they were living in East Germany and managed to smuggle them out. It was not until my Oma came to Canada and with the help of Canadian Organization that she found out her mother was still alive. She was reunited with her mother 30 years after her mother left to take her aunt to Kiev.
Anonymous from grade 10 student
My favourite part of the documentary was that they showed men from our area that were part of the 12th Field Regiment. I also enjoyed listening to the stories of the two men who were a part of the regiment, and the stories of the men’s wives or kids. My family background is Dutch, so I liked how I connect the stories my Grandparents told me of how it was like in Holland during this time, to the documentary.
My least liked part o f the documentary was showing the graphic photos of the Holocaust, but understand why they were there. ….. I appreciate the way the Dutch treat he Canadian men and their families. The way they acted really inspired me. It means a lot that the men in the war sacrificed !
Anonymous grade 10 student.
It was very well done for being made the way it was made. I honestly didn’t expect so much real video detail as there was.
My favourite part of the documentary was when they related the guy that loved hockey and wore his jersey to show the people. This gave it a sense that these were real people just like our every day lives and relates to our Canadian way….. a lot of the information is still sinking in… for anyone who doesn’t fully understand the point in time is a great film to show, especially when they give their real life story. I may have not been here if these men didn’t stop the Germans when they did.
Also, an amazing feeling knowing people on another continent are proud of things we did as Canadians to help……
On the Guelph’s Phantom Regiment website, one article really stuck out for me; it was called “ Our Boys On The Beach….Who Gave Their All! I really liked this article because it was letters being sent between a husband and wife. It was a glimpse how soldiers and their spouses wrote to each other. It was interesting to truly know what soldiers wrote to their loved ones back home and what their loved ones wrote back to them to inform their soldiers on home life. Though, it saddened me to read the wife’s letter to her husband knowing she wrote the letter the same day he died because the first sentence of letter was, “ I sincerely hope and pray you are well and safe….”
…. On the website, I would lengthen the articles so viewers could learn more about each topic because the website does well to differentiate the topics.
During WWII civilians had poor fates if they were not considered to be of the superior race. Many were sent to concentration camps or killed, and there was no escape. Hitler’s goals seemed to be the only thing he cared for and nothing could stop him from trying to achieve them. If he did achieve his goals and went on to conquer the world, like he hoped, life would be a lot different. I’m glad it’s not, because we have freedom within our countries, we are not forced to follow the Nazis’, and there isn’t a superior race.