My family has always proudly served in the military and/ or police generation after generation going back as far as our family tree will allow. There is always at least one member of my family which has answered the call in one way or another.
In my life, though, probably the two members who I have heard the most about. One would be my grandfather Bill Guthrie, who flew as a Flying Officer, co-pilot and bomb aimer in many dangerous missions over occupied France and Germany during the Second World War. He flew on the Halifax bombers and was in the war from 1940 until its end in 1945. He won a Distinguished Flying Cross and had luck enough to come through the entire war with his entire crew still alive and intact.
While we did not always have an easy relationship with the man, we always honoured his service and his bravery as a soldier.
The second person I always heard about growing up was my great uncle, Flying Officer Lindsay Guthrie. He also flew in the air force on bombing missions over Europe, but he was not so lucky as his half-brother Bill, and was shot down over the Reichswald Forest in Germany. According to the account we have in our family chronicle, my uncle survived the crash but died shortly after in a field hospital in Germany. He is buried near Gelsenkirchen.
The baby of the family, and the youngest of four brothers, Lindsay’s death devastated my grandfather and left a massive hole in the hearts of all his surviving family members, especially his mother. She had married my great grandfather after he was widowed as his second wife, and Lindsay was her only biological son among the four.
Every Remembrance Day I leave my personal poppy on the cenotaph or monument, and say a prayer in their memories. In my hometown of Gull Lake, Saskatchewan, my mother always lays a wreath to honour them.
Even now, that tradition of military service continues in my family. My brother Chris, who is a 30-year enlisted man as well as a veteran of Bosnia and the Afghan War, is currently stationed overseas in Poland with the Canadian contingent of NATO forces there watching along that problematic border with Russia and Belarus.