The horrible casualties involving innocent civilians at the Boston Marathon gave us yet another grim reminder of how thankful we should be for the sacrifices made on our behalf by people in uniform.
This past week I lost a dear friend who served with the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders on that stony beach at Dieppe. It was August 19, 1942 – Canada’s darkest day in World War Two.
Hugh Comack was a young signalman that day, and I guess you could say he was one of the lucky ones. He wasn’t seriously hurt, and he didn’t end up in a German prison camp. But the horror that he saw as a 21 year old stayed with him until he died at the age of 92.
Hugh Comack continued to serve his regiment for many years after the war, rising to the rank of Brigidier General. I first met him almost 40 years after that dreadful August day. He sat down for an interview that left me speechless. He said “Imagine standing at center field in Winnipeg Stadium, with machine guns firing at you from the upper decks on both sides. That was the scene on that beach.”
We chatted several more times on the 19th of August, and Hugh would often be commemorating the occasion at his family cottage in the Whiteshell. A few years ago he was knocked down by a stroke, and he spent his remaining days at Deer Lodge Centre in Winnipeg.
He married Agnes Bardal just after the war. She had been a nurse at Deer Lodge, and they were together almost 67 years. I first visited them just about a year ago.
Hugh said he was honoured that I came to see him. I told him it was I who was honoured, as all Canadians should be. I shall miss him.
I’m Roger Currie