Roland Papineau says his mother used to tell him how she held him as a newborn and watched from their Windsor hospital window soldiers marching in a victory parade.
His uncle, also Roland Papineau, wasn’t among them.
The elder Roland Papineau had been killed in action and died from his wounds March 24, 1945, at age 20, just after the Allies had crossed the Rhine, 45 days before the end of the Second World War in Europe, though fighting would continue for months in the Pacific.
The soldier’s nephew and namesake was born in December, 1945.
Papineau, who now lives in Sarnia, said he remembers his father giving him the Memorial Cross his family received after his uncle’s death, not really realizing its value at the time.
But he kept it with him, he said, and it eventually prompted him to look into the past.
Papineau recently compiled a history project on his uncle, noting the French-Canadian’s service record shows he trained in Chatham, and later the former Camp Ipperwash in Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, fought June 6, 1944 in Normandy and was injured in the ensuing Battle for Caen.
Plans are to provide the photos and documents, including items increased from family members over the years, to a historical society in Tecumseh, Papineau said.
“I think that’s where this material is going to go,” he said.
His uncle was born on Sandwich Street in the former Ford City, attended the since-burned-down St. Antoine School in Tecumseh and worked at Ford before enlisting, he said.
Trained as a rifleman and part of the Highland Light Infantry Corps, Papineau — whose middle name was Anselm — earned various medals, and was buried in a temporary grave for almost three years in Germany, before his remains were moved to the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery near Nijmegen in the Netherlands, Roland Charles Papineau said.
April 22 would have been Papineau’s 100th birthday, he said.
He’s also, he said, researching Papineau’s brothers, two of whom also served in the war.
“It’s time to make people aware again of how serious and how valuable it was to participate in this war,” he said.
“How to volunteer and give up your state in life for the greater good.
He added “it’s a mystery of sacrifice, of dedication, and it’s good maybe for people to reflect a bit on what was given for what we have today.”
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