100 Mile resident recalls father’s memories on the war

‘We should be grateful to the soldiers and veterans’

For local resident Darlene Hastings, memories of her father in the Second World War, are rather vague or untold.

Her father, Grenville Skelton, joined the Canadian Army when he was only 21 years old, in 1940. Skelton served in the war until 1945, and then demobilized from the war and returned home to Canada. She recalled her father being stern during his transition back into a regular civilian lifestyle.

“We lived in Prince George with our grandmother until he came back,” said Hastings, one of Skelton’s four daughters. “He lived in Brandon, Manitoba. When the war was over and soldiers were discharged, they brought them back to where they signed up. I remember taking the train from Prince George to Brandon, Manitoba to meet my dad.”

At the time, Hastings said she always knew she had a dad, but being so young, she and her sisters relied on what their mother would tell them. There was one memory of her father, Hastings said she could not forget.

“We had all sat down for dinner, in Brandon, Manitoba,” said Hastings. “My grandmother made corn on the cob that evening, and being from Prince George, I had never seen that. We didn’t get corn on the cob. I remember saying, ‘I don’t eat this’ and my father stood up and told me to eat it, that I had to.”

Hastings said she fussed over the piece of corn, which led to a spanking that calmed her down. When Skelton sat back down to the table, he shared a particular episode of what he had witnessed.

“He said that he had just come home from a place where he witnessed children scavenging in the garbage to find something to eat, to a daughter who won’t eat corn on the cob,” said Hastings. “To this day, I eat corn on the cob.”

Skelton wasn’t someone who told stories of the war, which is similar to many veterans who fought in the war. However, Hastings did recall their father sharing one serious memory.

Skelton and a friend were advancing through enemy territory in two separate tanks. The armoured column was attacked and Grenville’s friend was killed when the tank exploded.

“They were just young guys,” said Hastings. “He would say, they did what they had to do.”

In 1955, the family moved to 100 Mile House and Skelton worked with Imperial Oil, known today, as Esso. Grenville died at the age of 59. He was a heavy smoker, but Hasting’s sister, Candice believes the trauma and high degree of stress that soldiers endure during the war, should have been attributed to his health.

Hastings said conversations amongst people her age, especially around Remembrance Day, tend to come up – talking about their fathers, the war and how different things are today.

“We are reminded, by him (Skelton) of how lucky we are to live where we live and how we choose to live,” said Hastings. “We should be grateful to the soldiers and veterans who went through this so that we can live the way we do today.”

Grenville Skelton received the 1939 to 1945 Star, the Italy Star, France and Germany Star, the Defense Medal, a Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and the War Medal of 1939 to 1945.

Article includes files from the Omineca Express.


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