From the farm to the front lines
My father, Bernard “Bernie” Macdonald Holmes, was born in 1924 in Benito, Man. He and his ten siblings were raised by their parents, Dan and Vera, on a farm in the Thunderhill district. Bernie joined the army at 19 and went overseas in 1943, becoming a member of the 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment, also known as the Canadian Kangaroos.
Bernie was a tank driver. The tanks he and his mates operated had their internal guns removed in order to carry more men—approximately 11 soldiers could be transported safely without those guns. He was stationed in France and then Holland, where he experienced the celebrations on May 5, 1945—Liberation Day for the grateful people of the Netherlands—and on May 8, VE-DAY,
which marked the end of the war in Europe. As there were many thousands of men and women serving overseas, Bernie had to wait his turn to come home. It took nine months before he was shipped back to Canada, during which time he took a job in a library in London.
He and my mother, Madeline Puffer, were married in May 1947, and they, along with my three siblings and me, lived on a small farm in Manitoba for many years. The family moved to central Alberta in 1970, where I still reside, as does my brother, Keven.
Sadly, Dad passed away on February 12, 2004.
Above: Daylene’s father, Bernard Macdonald Holmes, fondly known to many as “Bernie.“