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Acts of bravery and ex-patriot’s view on Remembrance Day

Joe Royle used to have to check under his car for bombs every morning when he was in the British Army.



By way of the British Royal Marines and the first Gulf War, several missions into Central America, the Falklands War, Northern Ireland and the Bosnian conflict, Royle now lives in Pemberton and works as a mechanic for Whistler-Blackcomb.

But for nearly 25 years he was a soldier and engineer in the British Army and this week Royle will be one of the Pemberton Legion’s guests during Remembrance Day on Nov. 11.

"I came out of Europe to get away from that crazy world," said Royle. "I used to have to check under my car every morning to make sure it hadn’t been booby trapped, and I wanted to live in Canada to enjoy the freedom that comes with not having to do that stuff."

Royle said Remembrance Day was important, especially for the younger generations.

"Remembrance Day to me is important to get any of the young ones to think about joining the forces or sorting the world out," he said.

"Remembrance Day is also exactly what it says because we’ve been through a lot of turmoil during the last 100 years. Basically it’s about remembering the people that have fought for the freedom that we’re enjoying now and it’s still going on; there’s a lot of persecution going on."

Royle was a Warrant Officer Class 1 with the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, or REME, who first came to the Sea to Sky corridor on winter training exercises.

"We have ski exercises that were cleared by the Canadian government around 1995-96, and to also have a break from things like Bosnia.

"There’s a group that still comes too, every March or so there’s a crew who come out, mostly policeman and soldiers, and I’m like a liaison for them."

Royle prefers not to talk politics but he said the Canadians he did serve with were a "fun bunch" that did a good job and were indeed "different" to the U.S. soldiers.

Remembrance Day services Nov. 11 start around 10:30 a.m. in Whistler and Pemberton. For more details on the Whistler service call the Fire Department and in Pemberton, call the Legion.

Remembering great acts of bravery

Most veterans and modern war historians can point to hundreds of examples of bravery that have gone unnoticed by commanding officers during the past century.

But despite the oversights, there have been a few soldiers whose amazing deeds have been recognized by the chain of command.

In Canada the highest award for bravery is the Victoria Cross. One unlikely winner of the "VC" was Reverend John Weir Foote who landed with the Canadian soldiers in the Dieppe Raid during World War II.

The troops involved in the Dieppe Raid totalled 6,100, of whom roughly 5,000 were Canadians, the remainder being British Commandos and 50 American Rangers.

Nine-hundred-and-seven Canadians died during the Dieppe Raid, which was supposed to be a surprise counter-attack on the French coast, and 1,946 other Canadians were captured and forced to spend the remainder of the war as prisoners.

Through eight hours of battle, Reverend Foote, Chaplain of The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, continually exposed himself to intense fire to help move the injured to an aid post. When an opportunity to withdraw arrived, the Reverend climbed from the landing craft that would have taken him to safety and walked into the enemy positions to be taken prisoner and so to minister to his fellow Canadian POWs.

They were held behind barbed wire for three years, but Reverend Foote became the first member of the Canadian Chaplain Services to be awarded the VC.