Re­mem­ber­ing A Fallen Soldier

In war, not all ca­su­al­ties oc­cur on the bat­tle­field

More of Our Canada - - Contents - by Karen Schoo­ley Bradley, Port Col­borne, Ont.

Sadly, serv­ing one’s coun­try in times of war of­ten leads to the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice... which can man­i­fest it­self in any num­ber of ways.

Dur­ing World War II, May and Eber Schoo­ley of Hum­ber­stone Town­ship ( now the Ni­a­gara Re­gion) had all five of their sons in uni­form and scat­tered through­out the world, leav­ing them and their two young daugh­ters, Meta and Ruth, to anx­iously wait out the war in their ru­ral coun­try home.

Don, the third of their seven chil­dren, was born on the fam­ily homestead, Fe­bru­ary 8, 1917. He en­listed in May of 1942, with one brother al­ready in ser­vice; his other three broth­ers would shortly fol­low.

Don was with the Perth Reg­i­ment when he died in Italy on Novem­ber 1, 1944. All ca­su­al­ties of war are tragic, but per­haps those whose lives are lost sense­lessly are es­pe­cially heart- wrench­ing. Don­ald was stand­ing out­side the home where he and his fel­low pla­toon mem­bers were bil­leted in Italy, when he was killed. A weapons in­spec­tion was sched­uled and he and sev­eral com­rades were chat­ting as they waited for it to com­mence. Inside the house, two sol­diers were hur­riedly try­ing to clean a Bren gun (a type of light ma­chine gun) when the weapon ac­ci­dently dis­charged. The bul­let ripped through the door and hit Don in the back of the head as he stood chat­ting on the steps with his com­rades. The in­quiry found the two men who’d been clean­ing the weapon ( a sergeant and a pri­vate) guilty of neg­li­gence for fail­ing to un­load the gun be­fore at­tempt­ing to clean it. A mo­ment of care­less­ness by two young men led to one life need­lessly lost, and two young men left with the painful mem­ory of caus­ing the death of a com­rade.

Don’s sis­ter, Meta, re­calls the day early in the spring of 1942 when she and her mother came into the farm­house to find Don shav­ing at the kitchen sink. His mother asked if he was go­ing out and he an­swered that he was off to en­list. When she sug­gested he wait un­til he was called up he replied, “Well, Mother, maybe if enough of us sin­gle fel­lows go, the mar­ried men won’t have to.”

Don rests in the Ce­sena War Ceme­tery in the province of Forli, Italy.

His brother Wil­liam was se­verely wounded and al­though not ex­pected to live, did sur­vive. His other broth­ers, Norman, Ray­mond and Merle all re­turned un­scathed. ■

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