Veterans share stories of the Second World War
John Bannan, Murray Whetung served as army signalmen
John Bannan left his farming community in Omemee at the age of 17 to enlist in the First Midland Regiment. That was Aug. 6, 1940. During his time in the military he served in various places. He was stationed in Ottawa in 1941 to train with Finlanders in ski training and jumping to fight the Germans.
The 8th Brigade of which he was a part went on to Niagara Falls to guard the power canal, a main source of energy, and to St. John, N.B. to guard the harbour.
Next stop was the Aleutian Islands. The Japanese had taken over the Aleutian Islands; but when they got there the Japanese had left.
At Christmas John volunteered for a posting to England going to Kingston for training. In England he was reinforcement for the 3rd Division Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry (SDGs).
Next, John was recruited into the Royal Canadian Core of Signals as a signalman. There were hours of training and listening to interpret Morse Code. From 1944-1945 he was sent to serve in Holland as signalman.
Murray Whetung is our next long-living Second World War vet with a lengthy Curve Lake history. His grandfather had a grocery store, post office and taxi. His father was chief from 1913 to 1943. Murray was building motors at GE in Peterborough when the Second World War commenced.
Whetung tells that many friends on the reserve had gone into service and no one was left his age. The army took him in August and in November he was training as a signalmen at Vimy, near Kingston. This is where he received a telegram to report to the Air Force in Toronto. He went to his colonel but the colonel said, “Signalman Whetung, you are not available for the air force. You’re in the army now!”
Whetung was stationed in England and France as part of a work crew laying underground communication cable from the beach where they landed all the way to Brussels miles away. In Belgium, Holland and Germany they fixed existing cables.
He went into service in August, l942 and was out in November, l945. The day he got home he ran into friends at the corner of Buckhorn and Curve Lake Road. They were all on their way deer hunting. Whetung said “Save me a boat at the shore and I’ll meet up with you after I drop off my pack at the house.” There were six out hunting for a week. Whetung shot three deer the first day. They gave the meat away to the poor and the elderly.
Wild Rice Seeding
There were over 200 people in the room on both sides of the issue of wild rice seeding at a meeting at the Ennismore Community Centre Nov. 3. Moderator Brenda Jeff of Save Pigeon Lake, Larry Wood of Save The TriLakes Initiative, Alan Easton of the east shore and Homie Newhook, president of Lakeview Estates, presented the concerns of many residents of the Pigeon Lake area.
Politicians present – MP Maryam Monsef, Curve Lake Coun. Lorenzo Whetung, Andy Mitchell, Selwyn mayor-elect, along with Jewel Cunningham, director of Ontario Waterways stressed the importance of compromise, of honouring this discussion, of talking as neighbours and not as people of different ethnicities.
Wood presented the concerns of the area related to wild rice seeding. The negative of effect on tourism, unsafe channels, environmental impact, decrease in shoreline property value, and managing the debris were some of the concerns brought up.
On the other side First Nations people talked of the rights provided by the Williams treaty, the disappearance of their native food, suggestions to fix the pollution of farming that affects water quality and importance of large wetlands.
During the question period an action plan was developed on the political side of the table. MP Monsef proposed a two-track discussion. One track would involve discussions between the Crown (federal government) and the First Nations people. Another track would involve discussions with members of the community to work on a solution. There would be an appointment process for members of this committee.
This action plan will have three months to come up with a solution.
The meeting ended with servings of manoomin (wild rice).