Walter Strang 1940-1945

Served for 1.667 days and fell 9 days before the ceasefire.
From Thursday 26 September 1940 to Thursday 19 April 1945 Walter Strang serves as a volunteer in the Canadian Army. His military career can be reconstructed to a large extent from his service dossier. He reports at the 2nd District Depot op 26 September 1940 as an infantryman and receives his first instructions on how to handle a machine gun. From 11 January 1941 to 26 September 1941 Strang pursues various training courses in Canada, particularly in order to operate the machine gun of a tank, but he is also trained as a radio operator.

Walter Strang during a training session on the shooting range in Canada.

Photo kindly provided by his sister-in-law Yvonne Strang.

Walter sails back to the country of his birth on 13 December 1941 and on the 27th of that month the soldiers disembark in the UK. In England he serves with various units. It is worth mentioning that Walter receives a present on New Year’s Day 1943; his pay is increased to $1.50 per day.

In 1943 Strang is assigned to the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, a regiment that has its origins in the city of Edmonton in eastern Canada with a Scottish background. This regiment is dispatched to Italy to assist in pushing out the Germans in the north.

Walter Strang in Florence, Italy. Photo kindly provided by the Loyal Edmonton Regiment Museum.

On Sunday 1 December 1943 Walter Strang lands in Ravenna on the Adriatic coast and – after heavy fighting – arrives at the coast of Genoa on Tuesday 6 March 1945. He embarks for the crossing to Marseille in liberated France where he arrives on Friday 16 March 1945. From this moment onwards there no new notes were added to his service record. The last hand-written addition is from Thursday 26 April 1945, a week after his death:

"Killed in Action", field 19 apr 45, private
The last period is described in quite some detail in the book: ‘A CITY GOES TO WAR’ (G.R. Stevens, 1964).

Marshal Alexander says a warm goodbye to the ‘Eddies’ in Italy; they are praised for their distinguishing role in the victory and he wishes them similar successes in the future. The journey through France and Belgium proceeds without problems; they are warmly welcomed everywhere as liberators. By way of Cleve they cross the River Waal in the direction of Zutphen (which was liberated after some heavy fighting) where they cross the River IJssel. They run into German resistance at the channel near Apeldoorn. Brummen is the First Dutch town to be liberated by the Loyal Edmontons.

Click on the photo for more detail.

Westwards to Barneveld
In the afternoon of the 18th of April the Loyal Edmontons reach Barneveld. Despite the ease with which the forward move had proceeded fighting had not come to an end yet. General Blaskowitz – commander of the Twelfth German Army – still had 12,000 men at his disposal and feverishly tried to establish a last ring of defence behind the river Eem. Not all Germans were intending to surrender; on April 19 Colonel Stone received the information that a large concentration of enemy troops was located in the vicinity of Hoevelaken, to the south-west of Barneveld. He took D Company, including tanks, anti-tank weapons, and personnel carriers and went out to investigate. His column took fire at a road block (in Hoevelaken). Although the sappers under Lt. J.D. Mackenzie had managed to dispose of the obstacle in a calm and measured manner, the Germans were clearly determined to make it a real fight. Thus, the column retreated taking with it six wounded. (It was in this action that Walter Strang died).

On April 27 Colonel Stone receives the message that at 5 a.m. the next morning a cease fire will be called for the entire line.

Negotiations with the Germans were to take place in Achterveld. However, the first meeting was immediately called off because the German present was not authorised to act, which is a shame for the Loyal Edmontons as they would have taken part in a historic meeting had it proceeded. Hereafter, the Germans began to surrender little by little all over Europe.

Walter Strang fell 9 days before the ceasefire while he had served a Total of 1.667 days as a volunteer. That is equal to 0,5 % of time before victory, or – to put it differently - about 200 metres before the end of a taxing marathon.