The story of twin brothers from St. Vital who fought and died in the Second World War was shared this Remembrance Day here at home as well as in the Netherlands.
Ernie and Doug Tod were brothers from Winnipeg. They were in fact two of five brothers from the Tod family who were soldiers in the Second World War. The pair enlisted in 1942 and trained with the Royal Air Force in New Market England. They died on June 23, 1943 when their plane went down over Holland, which is where they are buried side by side.
While the story of any Canadian who went to war and didn’t come back is a moving historical tale, this one is taking on a new life, of sorts, in the hearts of school-aged children at home and abroad.
The cemetery where the twins lay is in Medemblik, Holland. Not far from the cemetery is an elementary school where the children are learning about the soldiers who fought for freedom.
Peter Sasburg, a publisher and documentary filmmaker from Holland, has been working with a foundation called Living in Freedom to research the story of the Tod twins, to share their story with the school children and to honour the memory of soldiers buried on Dutch soil.
In 2016, the foundation began installing marking poles at the grave sites of soldiers who had originally flown with the RAF of England. There are six such poles in Medemblik, one of which is at the grave of the Tod twins.
Sasburg has worked to forge a relationship between the Het Koggeschip school in Medemblik and Frontenac School in Winnipeg.
WATCH: Peter Sasburg explains how school children in Holland and St. Vital will work together to honour the Tod brothers.
Sasburg said he hopes that the students will work together across the miles to inspire each other. He laid a wreath of poppies from the Canadian Embassy between the Tod graves Nov. 11 in recognition of Remembrance Day.
Margaret Lapenskie, Community Liaison at the Kindergarten to Grade 8 school on Autumnwood Drive in St. Vital, is well-acquainted with the story of the Tod twins. She created a video about the boys when she worked at Glenlawn Collegiate. Lapenskie said the video was shared with Frontenac School students in grades five through eight at their Remembrance Day ceremony on November 10.
Lapenskie said the school will be sharing more of the story about the Tod brothers in the coming months with a view to helping them connect with a story that is as relevant today as it was in 1945.
“Our plan is for two of our grade five/six classes to gather information about Doug and Ernie Tod and share this with the school in Medemblik. They in turn will share information about what their town was like during the Second World War. The plan would be to wrap up the project on May 4, 2018, which is the day of remembrance in the Netherlands,” Lapenskie said.
Details of the Tod brothers can be found at the St. Vital Historical Society at 600 St. Mary’s Rd. Their story was featured in the latest edition of the Historical Society’s newsletter, the Historian.