Bill Sexsmith (left) and Wally Uden take a photo at the White Rock Legion

Bill Sexsmith (left) and Wally Uden take a photo at the White Rock Legion

Preserving the history of Canada’s heroes

Two White Rock veterans share their stories of combat in book

Landing on the beach of Normandy on June 6, 1944, Walter Uden looked at the tide coming in, the water, now stained red with the blood of his fellow soldiers, served as an ominous warning about what lay ahead.

Nazis.

“We were the first on the beaches,” the longtime South Surrey resident said.

“When we landed, the troops started coming in off the boats and the Germans had the machine guns and were shooting the soldiers. Blood was just pouring into the ocean and it stayed there for about three weeks.

“The tide went out and came back in and it was still red.”

Born in Lambeth, London on Sept. 22, 1922, Uden joined the British army at the age of 18 to fight in the Second World War.

As part of the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME), Uden painted the army trucks and cars being repaired. Soon, he was moved to the 20th Beach Group Recovery REME based in Scotland and in June 1943, he and his crew were moved to a village outside of Portsmouth, located in Hampshire on the southeast coast of England.

A year later, when the call came in and troops were sent out to the beaches of Normandy, many believed it was practice, Uden said.

That was, until the bombs and shells began to rain from the sky.

Despite the treacherous waters, a high tide helped Uden’s landing craft make it over the defences, where they waited for a landing craft to come in. Once it arrived, the team unloaded their vehicles and ripped out the waterproofing to prepare for action.

All the while, Nazis were shooting at the men.

Remembering his time at one of the most epic and pivotal battles in the Second World War, Uden can recall details as if it was only days ago, despite celebrating his 91st birthday last year.

In order to keep the story alive, friend and fellow veteran Bill Sexsmith submitted Uden’s story for the eighth edition of the Military Service Recognition book.

The ongoing effort by the Royal Canadian Legion aims to preserve the stories of wartime heroes with short profiles of members, both late and living, along with photographs.

Sexsmith, who served in the Navy during Vietnam, had his story printed in the seventh edition of the book.

Under his name, Sexsmith’s achievements include 35 years of service with the navy, including a tour with the United Nations in Syria in 1979.

In 1997, the decorated veteran received the Meritorious Service Medal.

Now, Sexsmith is White Rock Legion Branch 8 representative and will be submitting Uden’s story for the book, set to be published in October.

“It’s a good way to connect because this book goes all over the whole province,” he said, noting the book includes stories from both World Wars and Vietnam, as well as stories during peace time.

Now, with Uden set to return to the beaches of Normandy on June 3 to commemorate the historic day, it was the perfect time to include his story.

“I’m doing this for all the veterans. There are very few D-Day veterans left,” he said.

The committee responsible for publishing the book annually is putting out a call for more profiles and photographs.

Once published, the book is available free of charge at all legion branches.

The best way to be included in the next edition of the BC Yukon Command Military Service Recognition book is by contacting the program co-ordinator, Gary Peters, online.

Visit www.legionbcyukon.ca to fill out an online form, and then email garypeters@shaw.ca

Just Posted

White Rock beach was buzzing with activity on Father’s Day. (Aaron Hinks photo)
PHOTOS: White Rock beach buzzing with activity on Father’s Day

High of 27C drew hundreds of people to the beach

This year’s Virtual Hike for Hospice raised just over $30,000 with the support of participants including Marlene. (Contributed photo)
PHOTOS: Virtual hike raises $30K for Peace Arch Hospice Society

Community support smashes fundraising goal

SFN councillor Joanne Charles, White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker and Coun. David Chesney listen to welcoming remarks from Chief Harley Chappell (Xwopokton). (FIle photo)
White Rock, SFN grieve together on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Residents encouraged to wear orange on Canada Day

Surrey RCMP are investigating after shots were fired at a white Jeep Saturday evening in Newton. (Shane MacKichan photo)
UPDATE: Surrey RCMP asking for video after shots fired in Newton

Surrey RCMP said a silver SUV shot at a white Jeep

A Grade 8 class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
B.C.’s return-to-school plan good, but Surrey teachers hope there is room for adjustments

Surrey school district to receive $1.76M of the $25.6M provincial pandemic-related funding

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Most Read