Memories linger: ‘It never leaves you,’ says Second World War veteran

Emerson Barden has a photo album filled with memories of his four years in the army during the Second World War.

Emerson Barden was 19 when he enlisted in the Army. He fought four years in the Aleutian Islands

Emerson Barden has a photo album filled with memories of his four years in the army during the Second World War.

From the remote western edge of Alaska to the liberation of German-occupied Europe, Barden’s years in the army took him across the globe: Heady stuff for a kid who grew up on farms in Saskatchewan and Surrey, his hometown from the age of 10.

On Remembrance Day, he won’t be on parade from the Cloverdale Legion to the Cenotaph – he turns 92 on Nov. 23 – but he’ll be thinking of his army days, and the job the Canadians did.

He signed up at 19. After training in Victoria, he was sent to Kiska, a windswept, volcanic island in Alaska’s

Aleutians, 600 miles from Japan.

His photos show a snow-capped volcano, sod-covered canvas army tents bracing against the wind, men getting haircuts on the tundra – or posing in deep shell craters.

A Japanese postcard is preserved in its pages, along with poems written by fellow servicemen – their creativity sparked by the harsh conditions. Kiska was invaded in 1942. When 34,400 U.S. and Canadian forces landed in August, 1943, they were expecting to meet resistance, but soon realized the island had been abandoned. A booby trap killed one of the commanding officers.

From Alaska, he was sent to Liverpool, then to Normandy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, as the Allies pushed the Germans back.http://webpapersadmin.bcnewsgroup.com/portals/uploads/cloverdale/.DIR288/wEmersonBarden.jpg

His pictures show Dutch homes and bridges reduced to rubble, a downed German plane in a field.

Barden was a medic, a job that brought him close to danger – but never more so than the day the Germans blew a hole in a dyke.

“When they hollered, you went,” he says. “It didn’t matter if there were bullets flying or not.”

Carrying out his duties, he’d paused without knowing exactly why, and felt two bullets shoot past his forehead.

He remembers his first impression of Holland as a soldier – a woman wearing wooden shoes who was using a rope to pull a barge down a canal. Other, darker memories linger as well.

“Well, it never leaves you.”

He has returned to the Netherlands since then, as a tourist and as a veteran, and is touched by the depth of feeling shown for the Canadians who helped end the occupation.

In 2005, he went back for the 50th anniversary of the liberation, forging new memories of cemeteries filled with foreign dead that are tended with devotion by Dutch school children – and of grateful citizens. One man picked up a bar tab for a huge assembly of Canadian veterans, exclaiming their money was no good.

A friend in the Netherlands mailed him news clippings from the 70th anniversary celebrations in June. “Liberators from a distant land,” reads one headline. “We follow the Canadian veterans during what is possibly their last visit to the Netherlands.”

He and his wife Pat, an air force veteran, had four children. He lives in Cloverdale and is a member of Branch 6.http://webpapersadmin.bcnewsgroup.com/portals/uploads/cloverdale/.DIR288/wAlbum.jpg

 

Just Posted

Grieving mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

Why school portables are a ‘way of life’ in Surrey

THIRD IN A SERIES: A look at concerns surrounding Surrey’s 300-plus portables

Surrey-led StatsCan project sheds light on overdose victims

Findings from ‘unprecedented’ case-study to be used to fight national opioid crisis

Stay home, cats – only pet dogs are OK to attend ‘Cat Walk’ at Surrey park

Surrey Community Cat Coalition’s second annual fundraiser planned Saturday

Surrey-North Delta Meals on Wheels in ‘desperate’ search for new partner

Without a new kitchen found by Sept. 1, the charity says it won’t have food to deliver to those in need

VIDEO: B.C. First Nation plans to launch legal challenge after Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, Premier John Horgan says he’ll continue to defend the B.C. coast

Billboard posted along B.C.’s Highway of Tears to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women

Billboards featuring Indigenous artwork to be placed in Surrey, Kamloops and near Prince George

Unexpected snow blankets the Okanagan Connector

As of 6:50 a.m. DriveBC cameras displayed surprise snowfall on highway

Driver loses tire while behind the wheel after lug-nut thief strikes in Burnaby

Burnaby RCMP are investigating after two reports of lug-nut tampering in the city this month

Federal cabinet ministers visit Edmonton, Calgary, in wake of TMX approval

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi is set to visit Trans Mountain Corp.’s terminal in Edmonton

B.C. municipality prepares to forbid overnight camping by homeless despite court ruling

While courts have ruled against blanket bans, Langley City is employing a site-by-site approach

B.C. auditor says Indigenous grad rate highest ever but education gaps exist

The percentage of Indigenous students graduating from B.C. public high schools has hit its highest level ever

Statistics Canada reports annual pace of inflation rises in May to 2.4%

Transportation prices gained 3.1 per cent as the cost of air transportation added 8.9 per cent

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Most Read