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Emilien Dufresne (Primary Source)

Emilien Dufresne was a solider with the Royal 22e Régiment during the Second World War. He was one of 14,000 Canadian soldiers who stormed Juno Beach on 6 June 1944. Learn Dufresne’s story of being taken prisoner by the Germans, forcefully put to work in a sugar factory, and how he was liberated.

Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.

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Canadian Command during the Great War

The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), of some 630,000 men during the Great War of 1914–18, consisted almost entirely of civilian soldiers. Pre-war farmers, clerks, students, and workers voluntarily enlisted to serve King and Country, although close to 100,000 were conscripted for service in the last year of the war. Most of the Canadian senior officers were drawn from the middle class — lawyers, engineers, professional soldiers, businessmen, farmers, and even a dentist.

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John Edwards Leckie

John Edwards Leckie, "Jack," soldier, mining engineer, explorer (b at Acton-Vale, Qué 19 Feb 1872; d at Port Hope, Ont 7 Aug 1950). He was best known for engineering and research work around Hudson Bay. Leckie was educated at Bishop's, Royal Military College, and King's College.

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Charles Cecil Merritt, VC

Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt, VC, barrister, soldier, Member of Parliament (born 10 November 1908 in Vancouver, BC; died 12 July 2000 in Vancouver). During the Second World War, Lieutenant-Colonel Cec Merritt was the first Canadian to earn the Victoria Cross (VC) in the European theatre, the highest award for bravery among troops of the British Empire.

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EAH Alderson

​Edwin Alfred Hervey Alderson, KCB, first commanding officer of the 1st Canadian Division (October 1914–September 1915) and of the Canadian Corps (September 1915–May 1916), army officer, author (born 8 April 1859 in Capel St Mary, England; died 14 December 1927 in Lowestoft, England).

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Phineas Riall

Riall arrived in UPPER CANADA in August 1813 and was placed in command of the Right Division, a geographic entity in the NIAGARA PENINSULA.

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Fred Hall, VC

Frederick William Hall, soldier, musician, clerk, Victoria Cross recipient (born 21 February, 1885 in Kilkenny, Ireland; died 24 April, 1915 near Ypres, Belgium). During the First World War, Sergeant-Major Fred Hall was the first of three soldiers, all from the same street in Winnipeg, to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery among troops of the British Empire. The three VCs earned by the men of Pine Street — later named Valour Road — was a feat unmatched in any other part of the Empire.

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Harry Crerar

Henry Duncan Graham Crerar, army officer (b at Hamilton, Ont 28 Apr 1888; d at Ottawa 1 Apr 1965). A graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, he was commissioned into the artillery in 1910 and was counter battery staff officer of the Canadian Corps at the end of WWI.

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James Glenie

James Glenie, army officer, politician (b at Fife, Scot 1750; d at London, Eng 23 Nov 1817). After service in Québec during the AMERICAN REVOLUTION Glenie resigned his army commission and settled in New Brunswick (1787).

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Coulson Norman Mitchell, VC

Coulson Norman Mitchell, VC, engineer, soldier (born 11 December 1889 in Winnipeg, MB; died 17 November 1978 in Montréal, QC). During the First World War, Captain Mitchell was the only member of the Canadian engineers to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery among troops of the British Empire.

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