With COVID-19 restrictions putting a halt to Remembrance Day services, and transmission being a concern, one local veteran will be spending the day on Zoom for a service put together by family members and close friends.
Edwin Laird, who lives in Prince Albert was, 18 when he went to war in 1941. While there, he spent time in England, Italy, France, Germany and Holland.
Laird wrote to his family back home but said incoming mail was almost a month old by the time it got to him. Nonetheless, he was still happy to hear from them. He also made a lot of friends during his time in the war.
“Those I was fighting with were real close buddies, you got to be real close buddies.”
Laird was hit three times and wounded once in the war. His injury left him out of action for four days.
He started off as rifleman but was later assigned to signal communications because he was “quite musical”.
Near the end of the war in 1945, Laird was a senior signalman in northern Holland. Around 4 a.m., on his 22nd birthday, a soldier tapped him on his shoulder and instructed Laird to send a message to all stations. That message was “cease fire,” marking the end of war. Laird had to stay on duty for a few days after that until May 9.
“They came and told us take your earphones off and go to town and get drunk, the war was over.”
Laird said he and his fellow soldiers drank and partied to celebrate the end of the war. He remembers the residents of the town in Holland were ecstatic about the end of the war.
After the war, Laird returned to Prince Albert. He met his wife after going to her family’s house to pay his respects for a fellow soldier who died in the war.
“I heard about this family who was only a couple of blocks away from where I was stopped here in Prince Albert, their son was a corporal and I’d seen him get killed. I went to talk to his family that’s when I met (my wife),” said Laird.
In past years, Laird would spend Remembrance Day with his family. His daughter, Geri Sauer said the family would go to the legion for breakfast and lunch with fellow veterans. They would also attend the annual ceremony at the armories.
Sauer said the family opted to host a virtual service for Laird this year.
“We knew that we weren’t going to be able to get together at the Armouries to pay our respects and secondly, at 97, we’re very protective of exposing dad,” said Sauer.
The service, which is organized by Laird’s granddaughter Jayne, will include everything a typical service would with the exception of the laying of the wreath, Sauer said.
Laird will read the Act of Remembrance during the service.
They also plan to have a special tribute to his wife’s brother, who died in Ortona, Italy in 1944 during the Second World War.
“His memory has always been a catalyst for our family,” said Sauer.