WATCH: Members of the Abreast With FORT-itude dragon boat team and WWII veteran Bill Nicholson honour a fallen soldier
During a recent competition in Italy, members of a local dragon boat team were inspired to visit the final resting place of a fallen Canadian soldier thanks to a Second World War veteran.
When Bill Nicholson heard that the Abreast With FORT-itude dragon boat team was competing in the Italian city of Ravenna, he approached team captain Cheryl Watson to see if the they would visit the grave of a solider from Langley.
An avid history buff, Nicholson had read about Corporal Clifford Kimmel, who was buried in a war cemetery near Ravenna. Like Nicholson, Kimmel was a “D-Day Dodger,” the derisive nickname Allied servicemen in France gave to colleagues based in Italy. Kimmel’s two brothers also died in the war.
Nicholson, who is in his early 90s, asked team members to lay a special poppy at Kimmel’s grave and read a letter he wrote to the solider he never met.
The Abreast With FORT-itude team, which is made up of breast cancer survivors, was happy to oblige.
“Serene is one of the words that certainly comes to mind,” says Watson of the team’s visit to Kimmel’s grave. “There was this overwhelming sadness and gratitude.”
On Saturday, members of the team met with Nicholson, who thanked them for helping him fulfill a dream.
-With files from Jennifer Palma