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

Lieut. Orphée Bernard takes a twirl on his Movember moustache as Lieut. Jeff Allan, back left, firefighters Andrew Mills and Layne Polnick and Capt. Troy Libbus display an oversized cheque showing the amount of cash raised from the profits of custom-embroidered T-shirt sales. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo firefighters raise moustache cash

Firefighters support Movember Canada through T-shirt sale fundraiser

Patricia Kent, 25, was reported missing over the weekend, as her family has been unable to reach her, say police. (Photo submitted)
RCMP ask for help locating missing Nanaimo woman

Patricia Kent, 25, has not been seen nor heard from since Saturday, say police

An man from Errington died when his ATV went over an embankment on Northwest Bay Logging Road on the weekend. (File photo)
Man dies in ATV crash northwest of Nanaimo

Incident happened on Northwest Bay Logging Road on Saturday afternoon

Volunteers plant trees earlier this month as part of a City of Nanaimo initiative. (City of Nanaimo photo)
City holds ‘relay’ to plant 600 trees and shrubs in Nanaimo

Trees were planted along Chase River and at Third Street Park

Vancouver Island University organizations are raising awareness about gender-based violence during 16 Days of Activism, which includes the Red Dress Project hosted by VIUSU that aims to honour the memory of Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. (Vancouver Island University photo)
City proclamation calls on Nanaimo to unite to end violence against women

16 Days of Activism campaign started Nov. 25, continues to Dec. 10

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Three Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store volunteers have tested positive for COVID-19. (Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary photo)
Three Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store volunteers test positive for COVID-19

Anyone who volunteered at Thrift Store between Nov. 14-Nov. 28 is asked to monitor for symptoms

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Most Read