Ron Laidlaw, longtime resident of London, Ontario, was a war photographer with the RCAF during the Second World War. He was, allegedly, the first Allied photographer to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and among the first to enter the newly liberated city of Paris. He brought back with him a collection of Nazi artifacts and Adolf Hitler collector cards, as well as official photos that he took in England, France, Holland, and Germany. The postwar material includes two scrapbooks, one detailing his retirement from CFPL Television in 1987 and the other his trip for the fiftieth anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands in 1995, his war medals, cuff-links given to Laidlaw by the Masons, and cigarette holders. After the war, Laidlaw returned to his position at the London Free Press until an opportunity arose to launch a new TV station, CFPL. He was the station's only news director until his retirement in 1987.
Joseph Reed Sams enlisted in 1943 and fought with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. While he was at the front, his family kept a scrapbook of newspaper articles concerning the major battles in which they believed he had fought. Throughout the scrapbook are items that are more personal, such as the telegram informing the family that Sams had been wounded. Other interesting items, added after he had returned home are a Nazi badge, Sams' campaign ribbon, and a fifty-Reichsmark bill. After the war, Sams went on to become an insurance agent, and in 1963 was elected as the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for Wentworth, Ontario.
This album, from London, Ontario, features many unidentified photos and images with handwritten captions. Among the identified subjects are Mr. and Mrs. Dechtro, Miss Frances McCabe as a child, Mr. Frank Lafleur, Mr. Thomas Cat, Mrs. Emma Seven Oaks and sister, Lydia Jahnke, Mrs. Grace Raubolt and son, Miss Agnes Davies, Mr. Nick Poulas, Sergeants McFee and Shaw, “Frenchy and Scotty,” George Latimer, Sergeant Major McDonald, Harriet and Isabell Raubolt, Mr. and Mrs. Higginson, the “Riot Squad” in London, Isabell Powell, Sergeant D.G. Powell, Jack Timney, Lance Corporal Borke, and Nellie Bronk. There are numerous images of a CAMC unit in London in 1916, and photographs of troops aboard the SS Cassandra, of the 13th Battalion, Canadian Engineers, of an unidentified London nurse who was buried at sea, and of icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland. Other images were taken in Dallas, Cleveland, Niagara, Toronto, and London, England.
John Bridgman of Roseland, Ontario, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943 and qualified as a bomb aimer at #9 Air Observer School in St Johns, Quebec. Amongst his wartime souvenirs are a certificate indicating that he had completed a tour of operations and aerial photographs taken on some of the bombing raids in which he participated.
John “Jack” Smith was born in Scotland in 1906 and came to Canada as a teenager. He enlisted early in the Second World War, serving in the 5th Field Ambulance of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. While he was overseas, he sent snapshots and other souvenirs of his travels to his family in Hamilton, Ontario, to show them the more mundane parts of serving in the army: field exercises, barracks life, an inspection by the King and Queen, and the surroundings in Spitzbergen, Russia, where he was posted for a short time in 1941. Jack Smith returned to Canada after the war and died in 1985.
Patrick McDermott left his home in Woodstock, Ontario, to enlist in the Canadian Army, and eventually served with the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada. He was killed in action in September 1944, and buried in Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands. After the war, his family saved these few mementos of his time in uniform.
Harold Bailey was born in Perth County, Ontario, but was living in Melfort, Saskatchewan, when he enlisted with the 1st Contingent early in the First World War. Over the next five years, he sent a series of postcards to various family members, who carefully preserved them until his return to Canada in 1919.