A Walk Through History
Napanee played a big part in both of the World Wars, whether it was helping make ammunition, making clean and warm clothes, or the amount of brave men and women that left the town to fight overseas. World War II began on Sept. 1, 1939, and ended Sept. 2, 1945. Unlike in World War One, Canada entered the war willingly when its own declaration of war was approved by Parliament on Sept. 10th, 1939. Over 1,500 people from Lennox and Addington enlisted, and took part in naval operations in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, participated in battles over Europe and Africa, and fought in battles in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany until the war’s end in 1945.
Some soldiers to take note of are Donald Reid, Luva Perry, and Harold T. Rogers. Reid was a resident of Napanee and enlisted at the age of 21 years old in 1940. He trained as a pilot in Belleville and Oshawa, and received his wings on Sept. 24, 1942 at the age of 23. Reid started writing a journal the day he boarded a boat to England on Oct. 27, 1942, and it was later found that he was aboard the Queen Elizabeth, a large troopship at Pier 21 in Halifax. In the journal he wrote of his day-to-day life on the way to the United Kingdom, and also of his days as a soldier. But, Reid died in a plane crash on Feb. 13, 1943 at 24 years old.
Luva Perry was the first woman from Lennox and Addington to be posted overseas, and wrote letters home to her family. She enlisted in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps on June 4, 1942, and served with the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps as a driver, and then in London, England, was a clerk for the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME). In her letters she described the celebrations she witnessed during VE Day (Victory in Europe). She returned to Napanee after the war.
Lastly, there’s the story of a young man named Harold T. Rogers and the German Soldier, Erich Possin, who wrote to Harold’s family after he died in the German soldier’s arms. Harold Rogers, born in Odessa, died on June 25, 1944 at the age of 20, and was a pilot officer for the RCAF. Erich Possin, a German soldier, found Harold dying on a battlefield while he was looking for wounded soldiers. He was the last person to see Rogers alive, and even tried to help him by calling for medical assistance. Four years after Rogers died, Possin sent a letter to Roger’s family explaining who he was. Possin eventually made the trip to Canada to visit the Rogers family.
Random History Fact: a British soldier saw Adolf Hitler on No Man’s Land during World War One, but didn’t kill him because he was unarmed and injured.