So thrilled to hear from the family of Bombardier Albert Tweyman, of Toronto, killed Aug. 8, 1944 near Caen, France, on D-Day + 63 of the Normandy invasion. Bombardier Albert Tweyman, of the Essex Scottish Regiment, was one of eight children, and a twin to brother Jack, who also served in the Second World War, and is still living in Toronto, at age 94.
Albert was also born in 1919. He lived with his parents Rose and Harry Tweyman and some of his seven brothers and sisters In Toronto, on Dundas Street West. He loved sports, and could drive. He finished Grade 9 at Central Tech high school, but told the militia he’d had to leave school at 14, according to his official service records, to help out at home. He worked for several years before being called up, including as an editorial assistant and composer for the Daily Hebrew Journal (Yiddisher Zhurnal), and later, for Columbia Pictures, as an office clerk.
In March 1941, he was called up and assigned to the militia. On his interview form, he said he preferred to be in the Air Force, but his application was rejected because he couldn’t provide the RCAF with his parents’ naturalization papers, as they were married in Poland. He was a small man, at just 5’3 and 129 pounds. He was assigned to an Anti Aircraft Battery and spent over a year in Kitchener, Borden, and Halifax before transferring to active service in Saint John, New Brunswick in May 1942.
Tweyman would spent another two years training in Canada, mainly in Sydney and Windsor, Nova Scotia, but also in southwestern Ontario. A Captain A.C. O’Grady who interviewed him in July 1943, suggested to his superiors that Tweyman would be better suited for the navy, but that never happened. He was trained as an army driver and then worked as a Bombardier instructor.
He embarked for England, from Halifax, on June 3, 1944. At the time, he was earning $1.50 a day.
The crossing took a week. He disembarked in England on June 10, 1944, a few days after D-Day. He was sent to France a month later, on July 22, 1944 and was likely part of the Canadian Army’s campaign to push the Germans back past Caen, and then southeast towards Falaise.
According to historians, the Essex Scottish Regiment was involved in two major battles in July. They were also involved in Operation Totalize, which began at 11:00 p.m. on Aug. 7, 1944, south of Caen.
It started with a massive Royal Air Force bombing raid to soften up entrenched German positions including near Cormelles, a factory town on the outskirts of Caen. At 9:00 the next morning, the Germans counterattacked. The Canadians, British, and Polish artillery were working from one direction while the Americans were working on the other side, trying to trap the elite German troops stationed in the area.
But the fighting was heavy, and the Canadians decided to call for air support. At noon on August 8, over 600 USAF bombers pounded the area with high explosive bombs and fragmentation bombs. According to Ken Ford in “Falaise 1944: Death of An Army”
, some of the American bombers dropped their loads on top of the Canadians, Poles and Brits, by mistake. When the smoke had cleared, there were over 300 men dead, killed in friendly fire.
While we don’t know where exactly Tweyman was when he was wounded that day, a medical report says Private Tweyman suffered “traumatic” shrapnel wounds to his leg, that left him with “gross damage.” He received morphine, and Anti Tetanus serum at about 10 p.m. that night in a British field hospital, and died shortly afterwords, at 22:10.
The army buried him “with religious rites” in a temporary cemetery in a factory near Cormelles.
His family was officially notified two weeks later, and at first, they were told only that he’d been wounded. When they replied by telegram asking about Tweyman’s condition and what hospital he was in, in England, the officials apologized for confusing them, and said that he had, in fact, never made it to a hospital, but had died of his wounds on Aug. 8, 1944.
|Courtesy Veterans Affairs Canada, Virtual War Memorial
They sent Tweyman’s gold ring, and his wristwatch back to Canada. After the war was over, officials reburied Tweyman in the large Canadian war cemetery in nearby Bretteville-sur-Laize, in 1946.
(photos courtesy of http://twgpp.org/
Steve Rogers, and Veterans Affairs Canada Virtual War Memorial)