BY DONALD MACSWEEN
While it is a well known fact that my dad was a Presbyterian minister, it is not well known that he was inducted into First Presbyterian Church in Prince Rupert at the 11 a.m. service, Sunday December 7th, 1941. Pearl Harbor was attacked at 12 noon Prince Rupert time that same day.
He volunteered for service as a padre, but the Army turned him down as being too young (he was 29 — the age restriction for padre at the time was 35) but he soon served as an unofficial padre to the thousands of Canadian and American troops who passed through Prince Rupert bound for the Aleutians and the South Pacific. Prince Rupert was a sub-port of embarkation of the Seattle Military District.
I well remember his ARP (air raid patrol) tin helmet, and the marching troops, and the warships, and the brass bands.
He had been asked to let the American Commander in Prince Rupert know if he heard of any houses becoming vacant as he, the American Commander, wanted to move his family to Prince Rupert to join him. In late May of 1942, my dad heard of a house coming available, and went down to the American offices. He was kept cooling his heels for a long time, and when the commander came out he told my dad he had only one minute of time. The message was delivered, and the commander after some thought told him, “if my family were here in Prince Rupert today, they would be on the train out of here tonight”.
My mom and I were on that train that night bound for Winnipeg — the home of my grandparents. My dad stayed in Rupert. That night was the eve of the Battle of Midway, which was the turning point of the Pacific War.
The balance between the warring forces was so tight that it could just as well have gone the other way and had that happened, the outcome of the war could have been very, very different for the west coast of North America.
There are many thousands of stories of those who, for one reason or another, could not serve on active duty, but who in their own way did their part for their country. We should remember them just as we remember those who were on active service.
Remember them all on their day — Remembrance Day. We should be proud of them all.
GOD BLESS THEM ALL.