By Andrea Quaiattini
This month’s feature is Barney Danson, who passed away on 17 October 2011. Mr. Danson enlisted as a rifleman with the Queen’s Own Rifles in 1939, and was ultimately commissioned as an officer. He was wounded during the Battle of Normandy in August 1944, and lost his sight in his left eye.
Mr. Danson had an illustrious career after the war. Elected to the House of Commons in 1968 for the riding of North York, he served as Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and was appointed to Cabinet in 1974. Mr. Danson was Minister of National Defence from 1976 to 1979. Among his numerous awards, he was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 1996, and in 2008 he was promoted to a companion of the order.
In his words...
"Unfortunately, Earl Stoll, who was the last of my friends still alive, took over... we got together when I was wounded. He came over to me and we... I guess we cried a bit. But he was going to go on and finish the war, but a month later he was dead too. So that has an impact on you which is pretty profound. And, frankly, as you get older you think of those people a lot more. We had a friend, Charlie Martin, a sergeant-major and most decorated man in the regiment and a wonderful fellow. He always referred to our old friends who were killed as "Forever Young", because you always thought of them as young. You thought of them as you knew them. And when we go back to the cemeteries in France, Belgium and Holland, we think of them and tell stories about them just as they were. The beautiful, young Canadians that, you know... we don't know what their potential would have been, but lost their lives all too young."
To read more of Barney Danson’s interview with The Memory Project, please go to Barney Danson
Corporals of the Queens’ Own Rifles. L-R: Earl Stoll, killed in action, September 1944; Gerry Rayner, killed in action, July 1944; Lieut. Freddie Harris, killed in action on D-Day, June 6, 1944; Sgt. Barney Danson, wounded in action August 1944.
Logo by Dylan Gnitecki - Graduate, Canada Business College