Honouring Canada’s veterans

Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, is a chance to honour those who served and remember those who gave their lives in service to country

Emil Chastkavich as a young officer serving in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War.

Emil Chastkavich as a young officer serving in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War.

Emil Chastkavich, who just celebrated his 89th birthday, served in the Royal Canadian Navy in both the Atlantic and Pacific during the Second World War.

He had the dangerous job of setting depth charges on the back of a ship whose job it was to locate and eliminate enemy submarines. Chastkavich was also on “escort duty,” ensuring vital supplies reached England intact.

He originally volunteered for the army because his older brother was “called up,” but he was rejected because of his flat feet.

Chastkavich has four medals: the Volunteer Service Medal, War Medal, and medals for both the Atlantic and Pacific.

Langstaff: father and son

Vernon resident Bill Dunsmore was proud to share information about his grandfather and uncle, John James Langstaff and John Currie Langstaff.

John James Langstaff, a farmer living in Larkin, signed up at Victoria. His attestation paper, dated May 25, 1916, shows that the 18-year-old was serving for the first time when he signed up to serve his country during the First World War.

His father signed up at Vernon. His attestation paper, dated Sept. 22, 1917, shows that he previously served in the Navy.

Both men were asked to declare that they are “willing to fulfil the engagements by me now made, and I hereby engage and agree to serve in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force, and to be attached to any arm of the service therein, for the term of one year or during the war now existing between Great Britain and Germany should that war last longer than one year, and for six months after the termination of that war provided His Majesty (King George V) should so long require my services, or until legally discharged.”

Farewell to the troops

Also in Dunsmore’s collection is the farewell letter Commanding Officer H.E. Burstall sent to all ranks of the 2nd Canadian Division at the conclusion of the First World War that reads, in part:

“We are about to return to our home in Canada after taking part in carrying to a successful issue the task which our nation undertook in 1914.

“We have had strenuous times together and have many glorious deeds to recall.

“We have reason to be proud of these achievements which have made the name of our Division glorious, and while we think of them our thoughts naturally turn to those loyal comrades who fought and endured with us, and who have paid the full price of devotion to Country. They have died but their names will live.

“Take home to Canada with you the knowledge of duty faithfully done in the days of war and the determination to be no less loyal and faithful to your country in the days of peace. For you can be quite sure that the characteristics of courage and endurance, of determination and initiative which you have shown on active service are as necessary in the building up of your country as they have been in defending her.

“With a heart full of pride and gratitude, as well as with the most real sorrows. I say Goodbye to you, and wish you all happiness and prosperity in your future homes. I trust that in the days to come I shall have the privilege of meeting many of you at gatherings where we shall be able to recall some of the great days we have spent together.”