Julie Mungall places her painted stones at the Brookside veterans cemetery in Winnipeg, Saturday, October 24, 2020. Mungall is commemorating Remembrance Day by painting poppies and other designs on rocks and hiding them around the city, sometimes in plain sight, for people to pick up and take home with them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Julie Mungall places her painted stones at the Brookside veterans cemetery in Winnipeg, Saturday, October 24, 2020. Mungall is commemorating Remembrance Day by painting poppies and other designs on rocks and hiding them around the city, sometimes in plain sight, for people to pick up and take home with them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Most British Columbians are unaware of WWII battles fought on our own shores

Remembrance Day research shows Canadians know more about European WWII battles than attacks closer to home

Many people across Canada will be honouring veterans on Nov. 11, but a new survey suggests most British Columbians are unaware of the history that happened on our own shores during the Second World War.

Leading up to Remembrance Day, Leger Marketing conducted a survey on the behalf of Ancestry, a DNA history company, and found that less than a third of British Columbians are familiar with B.C.’s contribution during the WWII.

While the history of world wars are slugged away in numerous history books, the study illustrates that only 38 per cent of B.C. residents would like to learn more about their own family history on the province’s shorelines.

One of B.C.’s historical moments during the Second World War is the Aleutian Islands campaign, and only a mere one per cent of B.C. residents are aware that this event took place.

The Canadian army, navy and air force joined the U.S. to regain control of the small island chain off the coast of Alaska.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII. The Ancestry survey reveals that while 55 per cent of British Columbians say they are familiar with larger battles, such as the D-Day landings in Normandy and 25 per cent say they are aware of the Dieppe Raid, not many are aware that the war actually reached Canadian shores.

Simon Pearce, a military genealogist and one of Ancestry’s progenealogists, said that Canada’s efforts on home soil played a “vital role in the war effort” and are stories that should be honoured alongside the European front lines.

“Canada played a key role in some of the Second World War’s most well-known battles, but let’s not forget the ways Canadians served closer to home – bravely defending the country’s borders from attacks, training pilots to serve overseas and facing treacherous waters to deliver essential supplies across the Atlantic.”

To help Canadians discover and learn more about Canada’s veterans, Ancestry is opening up free access to all global military records on their website from Nov. 2 to Nov. 11.

Ancestry uncovered an untold personal story of Lieutenant Sidney Vessey, who was killed in action during the Aleutian Islands Campaign in 1943. He was the first Canadian casualty during the invasion.

They have released a letter written to Vessey’s wife, Dolly in December 1943, which shared the circumstances of his death.

“…Lieutenant Vessey was instantly killed by the explosion of a land mine while investigating an enemy position at Kiska, Alaska…”

Lesley Anderson is a family historian from Ancestry.

“Learning about the role of our ancestors played in World War II can provide many of us with a personal, poignant link to the Remembrance Day commemorations and help us understand how the conflict shaped our families’ lives,” Anderson said.

“Now is the ideal time to search through historic records and images that bring home the humanity and individual stories of wartime.”

Ancestry is encouraging British Columbians to find a deeper personal connection to Remembrance Day by discovering the untold stories of how their ancestors contributed to WWII, at home and overseas.

Remembrance Day

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judge finds Surrey RCMP breached two robbery suspects’ Charter rights

This was in connection with the robbery of the Ritecare Pharmacy in Surrey on Oct. 10, 2017

Representatives from the Delta Firefighters’ Charitable Society and local retailers present cheques for $5,000 to Priscilla Belonio from WINGS - Azure Place and Wayne Connorton from the South Delta Starfish Pack program, proceeds from the society’s “We’re in this Together” t-shirt campaign. (Dave Mason/contributed photo)
Delta firefighters t-shirt campaign raises over $11,000

Funds donated to Azure Place transition house, South Delta Starfish Pack program

Art rendering of Surrey’s Legion Veterans Village. (Submitted photo)
Surrey’s Legion Veteran Village to get 91 affordable housing units, B.C. government says

Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing David Eby made the announcement Wednesday

This year’s White Rock RCMP children’s clothing drive was the best yet, organizers say. (Contributed photo)
White Rock RCMP children’s clothing drive ‘best ever’

Month-long annual event wrapped up Dec. 1

Firefighters battle a house fire in Fleetwood on Dec. 2, 2020. (Photos: Shane MacKichan)
One man sent to hospital, two people arrested after Surrey fire

‘This was so frightening to see in person,’ witness posts after blaze at 160th Street and 89th Avenue

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

Photo by Dale Klippenstein
Suspect tries to thwart police in Abbotsford with false 911 call about men with guns

Man twice sped away from officers and then tried to throw them off his trail

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

Most Read