D-Day casualty’s son retraces his father’s steps and finds 40 pieces of his Dakota, and new understanding.

It was an overcast day in early April when Montreal businessman Harvey Engelberg found himself in the middle of a muddy farmer’s field in northern France, reciting the Jewish memorial prayer for the dead.

Engelberg was repaying a 78-year old debt on behalf of his late father. Cobby Engelberg had served as an RCAF radio operator during the Second World War, and had nearly died in a crash into the same field on D-Day in 1944.

Harvey has been searching for years to find the location where the French people had saved his badly-wounded father. He had nearly given up.

“A month ago, I got a letter from France from a Madame Ferey, and in her letter, she says ‘I own a farm in Bassenville’, and then my head just exploded,’ said Engelberg, referring to the name of the town. ‘I wrote back saying, ‘Yes!’, and she said, ‘Well, we found bits of the plane crash on our property. Would you like them?”

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Britain to replace crosses for 3 Jewish Canadians killed in WWII

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission confirmed Friday that it has ordered new gravestones with Stars of David on them for three Jewish Canadians killed in France during the Second World War. The graves of Trooper Archie Adelman, 24, of Montreal, Lieutenant Jules Freedman, 24, of Toronto, and Flying Officer Mortimer “Max” Sucharov, 29, of Winnipeg, are in the Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, south of Caen, France.

The trio will have their tombstones replaced with the right religious symbol, according to David Avery, commemoration officer for the CWGC.

“I have heard back regarding the ground check at Bretteville and can confirm that three casualties who should have the Star of David are currently incorrect showing crosses,” Avery wrote in an email.

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Juno Beach flags presented to D-Day veterans

When the Canadian flag from the Juno Beach Centre arrived at Alex Polowin’s Ottawa condominium in late April, the Second World War veteran wasn’t sure how he was going to display it to anyone.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Polowin, 97, has been careful to follow the government rules against socializing during the recent lockdowns in Ontario.

Now the flag is on public display all week in the lobby of his building as part of a special exhibit to mark the 77th anniversary of D-Day.

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Canadian Jewish War Hero awarded Sovereign Medal for Canada: Alex Polowin

If you haven’t heard Alex Polowin, nearly 97, play his harmonica when he speaks about his experiences as a sailor in the Canadian navy during the Second World War, you are missing a real treat. The Ottawa veteran even pulled out his battered harmonica April 23, 2021 to serenade his friends and family after receiving the Sovereign Medal, Canada’s highest honour for civilians who volunteer with their community.
Read the full story that I wrote for the Canadian Jewish News about the event, to learn what the Rt. Hon. Richard Wagner told Polowin when he presented the medal during a virtual ceremony.

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Veterans and COVID-19 vaccines

If Jack Tweyman had been a resident of Toronto’s Sunnybrook Veterans hospital, the Toronto veteran of the Second World War would have likely been vaccinated against COVID-19 months ago. But Tweyman, 101, is still well enough to live independently in the same North York apartment he shared with his late wife. During the pandemic, the retired taxi driver has been relying on family and a caregiver to survive isolation safely.

After the slow rollout of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination system, a relieved Tweyman received his first dose of the vaccine on Saturday morning.

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Help me find the family of Paul A. Sklut: Vancouver Jewish soldier killed in 1944 in Belgium.

A Belgian tour guide and historian, Niko Van Kerckhoven, wrote to me recently.Van Kerckhoven, 50, and his teenaged son, regularly visit the graves of the Canadian soldiers who were killed liberating his town, called Wommelgem, during the Battle of the Scheldt.
This was the Canadian campaign in the area surrounding the crucial port of Antwerp in the fall of 1944. It cost over 6,000 Canadian casualties to take it, including that of Jewish volunteer Pte. Paul Sklut.
Von Kerckhoven has found photos of nearly all of the Canadian “boys” whose graves he visits, but not Sklut’s. As he writes to me, “I’m quite desperate, You are pretty much my last chance for a picture!”

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