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Mynarksi's Wartime Heroism

It was June 12, 1944, and the D-Day invasion of Normandy was less than a week old. Waves of Allied bombers were pounding German positions, but on this afternoon Flying Officer Patrick Brophy, 22, from Port Arthur, Ont., was feeling uneasy.

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Sam Steele

Sir Samuel Benfield Steele, CB, KCMG, mounted policeman, soldier (born 5 January 1848 in Medonte, Canada West; died 30 January 1919 in London, England). As a member of the North-West Mounted Police, Steele was an important participant in the signing of Treaty 6 and Treaty 7, the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the North-West Rebellion and the Klondike gold rush. His military career began as a private in the Red River Expedition, included service in the South African War as an officer commanding Lord Strathcona’s Horse and as a major general during the First World War.

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Sir William Stephenson

At the beginning of WWII, Stephenson was placed in charge of British Security Co-ordination (counterespionage) in the Western Hemisphere, with headquarters in New York C (where the telegraphic address was INTREPID - later popularized as Stephenson's code name).

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Joseph Pierre Roméo Vachon

Joseph Pierre Roméo Vachon, pilot, airline executive (b at Ste-Marie-de-la-Beauce, Qué 29 June 1898; d at Ottawa 17 Dec 1954). After service in the RCNVR during WWI, Vachon joined Laurentide Air Service in 1921 and in 1924-25 performed an aerial survey of Québec's North Shore.

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Leonard Birchall

Leonard Joseph (Birch) Birchall, CM, O Ont, air force pilot, war hero, educator (born 6 July 1915 in St. Catharines, ON; died 10 September 2004 in Kingston, ON). During the Second World War, Birchall became known as the “Saviour of Ceylon” for alerting Allied forces of an approaching Japanese fleet. Captured after sending his message, he is also renowned for the courage and leadership he displayed while a prisoner of war.

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Carlyle Clare Agar

In 1949 he airlifted construction material, equipment and personnel to the mountainside Palisade Lake Dam. In 1951 he performed a similar task for the Aluminium Co of Canada's giant smelter complex at Kitimat, BC.

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Raymond Collishaw

Raymond Collishaw, CB, DSO & Bar, OBE, DSC, DFC, fighter pilot, senior Royal Air Force (RAF) commander, businessman (born 22 November 1893 in Nanaimo, BC; died 28 September 1976 in West Vancouver, BC). Collishaw was one of the great aces of the First World War and an important RAF commander in the North African theatre during the Second World War.

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John Emilius Fauquier

John Emilius Fauquier, air force officer (b at Ottawa 19 Mar 1909; d at Toronto 3 Apr 1981). Educated at Ashbury College, Fauquier, a commercial pilot, joined the RCAF in 1939, eventually commanding 405 (Pathfinder) Squadron, RCAF, and from December 1944, 617 (Dambuster) Squadron, RAF.

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Billy Bishop

William Avery (Billy) Bishop Jr., VC, CB, DSO & Bar, MC, DFC, ED, First World War flying ace, author (born 8 February 1894 in Owen Sound, ON; died 11 September 1956 in Palm Beach, Florida). Billy Bishop was Canada’s top flying ace of the First World War, and was officially credited with 72 victories. During the Second World War, he played an important role in recruiting for the Royal Canadian Air Force and in promoting the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

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Janusz Zurakowski

Janusz Zurakowski, aviator (born 12 September 1914 in Ryzawka, Russia ; died 9 February 2004 in Barry's Bay, ON ). Raised in Poland, he joined the Polish Air Force in 1937, escaped to England and took part in the Battle of Britain.

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Leonard Braithwaite (Primary Source)

Leonard Braithwaite served with the Canadian Air Force as a Safety Equipment Operator from 1943 to 1946. However, he was rejected multiple times at a Toronto recruiting station because he was Black. Read and listen to the story of how Braithwaite overcame adversity and served overseas.

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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Indigenous Peoples and the Second World War

In 1939, Canada found itself at war for the second time in a generation. As in the First World War (1914-18), thousands of Indigenous soldiers and nurses volunteered for the war effort at home and abroad, serving with distinction in the Canadian army, navy, and air force. At least 3090 First Nations soldiers enlisted in the Canadian military in the Second World War, with thousands more Métis, Inuit, and non-Status Indian soldiers serving without official recognition of their Indigenous identity.

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Canadian Peacekeepers in Rwanda

From 1993 to 1995, Canada was a leading contributor to a series of United Nations peacekeeping missions in the African nation of Rwanda. However, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), led by Canadian Major-General Roméo Dallaire, was powerless to prevent the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans in 1994. Following the genocide, a new contingent of Canadian troops returned to Rwanda as part of UNAMIR II, tasked with restoring order and bringing aid to the devastated population. Hundreds of Canadian soldiers, including Dallaire, returned from their service in Rwanda deeply scarred by what they had witnessed.

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