‘Keep these stories alive’: Canadian veteran reflects on 80 years since D-Day

Click to play video: 'Second World War veteran reflects on service on D-Day 80th anniversary'
Second World War veteran reflects on service on D-Day 80th anniversary
Percival James Smith joined the merchant navy at the age of 17 in the early years of the Second World War. More than 80 years later, he reflects on his service and why commemorating the sacrafices of so many remains an important duty – Jun 6, 2024

“When I look back to what I gave and the time I gave, I think if I was asked to say, was your service worth it?

“I would say yes, I would definitely say yes. Because if not for a generation like us, you would have never won that war.”

Percival James Smith was only 17 years old when he left high school and decided to enlist in the Merchant Navy.

On the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, Smith reflected on his time in the Second World War.

“We were so dedicated, so enthused, that to us at that time it was not family, it was King and country,” Smith said.

As he reflected on the war, the now 101-year-old said what he often remembers most is the destruction.

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“I remember one time that was in London, and I was in the bomb shelter for the night, and when I came out, there was nothing,” Smith said.

“There was not a building left, everything in the subdivision. And there was this woman standing beside this demolished building and I went up to her and I said, ‘is there something that I can do for you?’ And she said, no, there’s nothing you can do for me because I have nobody. My husband and two children are in that rubble and I’m not going until I see them.”

Click to play video: 'D-Day: A look back at the complex, secret plan to fool Nazi commanders in WWII'
D-Day: A look back at the complex, secret plan to fool Nazi commanders in WWII

Smith said it is so important to remember D-Day, what happened, how many lives were lost and how the world changed.

“I think that we have to keep these stories alive,” he said. “Because if you don’t, veterans like us, what would we have served for?”

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Smith said when he looks back at all the friends he lost, the acquaintances he made, the countries he went to, the people he met, the churches he went to and the food he ate, it was an education by itself.

“We all live differently in different countries, and we’ve got to respect that, to respect the feelings of everybody.”

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