Have you ever heard of Leslie Neufeld?
He was born in Nipawin, Saskatchewan in 1922 and was one the first Canadians to land in France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He died early that morning in an assault on a concrete bunker. His last letter home to his parents is one of a remarkable collection of letters put together by Canadian Letters and Images Project, an online archive of the Canadian war experience.
If you can’t make it down to the Remembrance Day ceremony today, or even it you can, take a few minutes and browse through some of these old letters.
I ended up skipping the gym last night because I was caught up with Gordon Morrisette’s letters to Marjorie, who he eventually married — six years after he got home.
And, the letters of the three Bell brothers. Read James‘ letters, especially. You’ll follow his training in Calgary, his discovery of the Rockies, his very surprising and quick wedding to a girl from Coleman (He writes to his mom, “I think I know what I’m doing.”), and the sad letter to his family from his Wing Commander describing James’ disappearance somewhere over France in 1944.
Getting back to Leslie Neufeld. Here’s an excerpt from his last letter two days before he died:
“June 4, 1944
Dear parents, brothers and sisters,
My time for writing is very limited. However, I must write a few words just to let you know how things are going.
First of all, thanks a million for the cigs and parcels and letters. Received your letter, Dad, just a day ago. By mistake I received Len’s cigs too.
Sorry Mum that I don’t have time to answer all your questions now.
Dad, the time has come for that long awaited day, the invasion of France. Yes I am in it. I’ll be in the first one hundred Canadians to land by parachute. We know our job well. We have been trained for all conditions and circumstances. We have a fair chance.”
“This job is dangerous, very dangerous. If anything should happen to me, do not feel sad or burdened by it, but take the attitude of “He served his country to his utmost.””