Veteran visits Valour
School purchases commemorative brick at Juno Beach Centre Memorial on behalf of Second World War vet Bruce Westgarth
PETAWAWA – Petawawa’s Valour JK–12 School remembers.
On Friday morning, the student body assembled in the gymnasium to take part in a Remembrance Day service, where they recognized, remembered and commemorated the sacrifices of Canada’s soldiers past and present.
A multi-media and bilingual presentation touched on a number of milestones, including the 100th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Passchendaele; the role of women in the First World War, including those who served or had family members serving getting the right to vote in 1917; and the role of Indigenous soldiers in the conflict.
Other elements in the ceremony including the marching on of the colours, accompanied by bagpipes and drums, and a moment of silence in commemoration of the fallen.
Continuing a tradition, Valour School has been honouring veterans by purchased a commemorative brick on their behalf at the Juno Beach Centre Memorial for Canadian soldiers.
The Juno Beach Centre is located in Courseulles-sur-Mer on the historic beach of the Canadian D -Day landings of June 6, 1944. The centre helps to give visitors a better understanding of the contribution Canada made to the Second World War.
Juno Beach Commemorative Bricks can be purchased at www. junobeach.org for $500.
This year, the JK-12 school recognized Warrant Officer Bruce Westgarth (retired), a 93-year-old veteran of the Second World War. The Petawawa resident landed at Juno two weeks after D -Day, serving as a gunner and radio operator in an armoured scout car with the 17th Duke of York Hussars.
During his service in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, Westgarth was knocked out of his armoured car three times, the third time rescuing the driver who was unable to get out by himself.
He returned to Canada Dec. 28, 1945, then re-enlisted in 1947 with the Royal Canadian Dragoons, retiring as a warrant officer in the 1970s. Three of his brothers – Orville, Arthur and Carl – all served overseas, and his father was wounded at Vimy Ridge in the First World War.
In 2014, the French government honoured Westgarth along with other veterans by making him a Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour.
With his wife, children and grandchildren in attendance, Westgarth was presented a wooden replica of the Juno Brick by Gary Serviss, Valour teacher and organizer of the Remembrance Day service. He said he felt honoured by the recognition.
“This is something I never expected,” he said. “It was great to do this in front of my family.”
Westgarth said he returned to Juno Beach once, when he was over in Europe during the 1995 commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Holland. SUhler@postmedia.com
On Friday morning, Warrant Office Bruce Westgarth, a Petawawa Second World War veteran, accepts a wooden replica of a commemorative brick bought in his honour at the Juno Beach Centre from Gary Serviss, a teacher at Valour JK-12 School. Each year, the school recognizes a veteran this way as part of their Remembrance Day services.