Stu­dents con­nect with those killed in Dieppe Raid

Project in­cluded send­ing let­ter to homes where young men lived be­fore join­ing up

Windsor Star - - CITY+REGION - TAY­LOR CAMP­BELL tcamp­bell@post­ Twit­­camp­bell

Mary Bra­datanu knew her un­cle died in the Sec­ond World War, but it took the re­search ef­forts of a high school his­tory class for her to learn more.

The 54-year-old Wind­sor woman vis­ited St. Anne Catholic High School Fri­day to read from a file stud­ied by Grade 11 stu­dents about her mother’s brother, Ger­ald James Jelso.

“My mother al­ways talked about the war,” said Bra­datanu, leaf­ing through the doc­u­ment on her un­cle. “I didn’t re­ally get it as a kid, but know­ing the sac­ri­fices they made, and know­ing my grand­par­ents sent two boys away and only one came back, it makes me emo­tional.”

Jelso’s was one of the dozens of files stu­dents be­came fa­mil­iar with over the past few weeks, said his­tory teacher Steve Byrne. Each vet­eran they stud­ied was a mem­ber of the Es­sex and Kent Scot­tish Reg­i­ment who died dur­ing the Dieppe Raid on Aug. 19, 1942. Jelso was 22 years old when he died.

“I have (the stu­dents) study the file so they can get to know the per­son,” said Byrne. “In­stead of think­ing it’s just one more sol­dier dead, they know it’s ac­tu­ally a kid, an 18-year-old kid, who risked his life.”

Byrne ob­tained the doc­u­ments about nine years ago from Li­brary and Ar­chives Canada, which pro­vides open on­line ac­cess to files for mem­bers of the Cana­dian Armed Forces who died be­tween 1939 and 1947. Ev­ery year since, Byrne has as­signed each of his stu­dents a dif­fer­ent lo­cal vet­eran to re­search. This year, Byrne de­cided to have his stu­dents find the vet­er­ans’ orig­i­nal ad­dresses and send let­ters to let the cur­rent res­i­dents at those ad­dresses know a vet­eran once lived there. The let­ters in­cluded a sum­mary of each vet­eran’s file in­for­ma­tion, and a book­mark com­mem­o­rat­ing the 100th an­niver­sary of Ar­mistice Day, the end of the First World War on Nov. 11, 1918. Bra­datanu learned about the stu­dents’ project through lo­cal me­dia and de­cided to con­tact Byrne to see if her un­cle was one of the vet­er­ans in­cluded. When Byrne con­firmed he was, he in­tro­duced Bra­datanu to the stu­dent charged with study­ing her un­cle, Dy­lan Chap­ski. “You re­al­ize there were peo­ple who fought from Canada who were ac­tu­ally from the Te­cum­seh area,” said Chap­ski. The 16-year-old said he loves his­tory, and was happy to meet Jelso’s niece af­ter study­ing him so closely.

“We have to re­spect that we have the con­nec­tion to peo­ple who were serv­ing,” said Chap­ski.

“This project has been mean­ing­ful, be­cause they can at­tach a dead Wind­sor boy with a bat­tle over in Eu­rope,” said Byrne. “They have to rec­og­nize the fact that some­one lost a brother or fa­ther or hus­band. And th­ese boys were young, not much older than Dy­lan, which is re­ally eye-open­ing for them.” Byrne gave Bra­datanu three rocks from Dieppe, which he brought home from a school trip sev­eral years ago. Know­ing her un­cle fought and died on the beach where they came from brought tears to her eyes. “Know­ing your his­tory, you want to some­how be a part of it,” she said.

In­stead of think­ing it’s just one more sol­dier dead, they know it’s ac­tu­ally a kid, an 18-year-old kid, who risked his life.


Steve Byrne, a his­tory teacher at St. Anne Catholic High School, shows Mary Bra­datanu doc­u­ments Fri­day de­tail­ing her un­cle’s ser­vice in the Sec­ond World War.

Mary Bra­datanu holds a photo of her un­cle, Ger­ald James Jelso, who was killed in the Dieppe Raid in 1942.

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