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

Cloverdale Rodeo finals hand out $330K to champion riders

Bareback rider Caleb Bennet tied the arena’s record with a 93.5-point ride Monday

‘It’s a game changer’: 15-year-old wins professional skateboarding contest on two skateboards

‘No one has ever seen it before’ said producer of Cloverdale contest

Winners to come to Semiahmoo Shopping Centre

Former Zellers to also include a gym and daycare

Peace Arch Hospital, Sources requesting volunteers

Program to help seniors get home safely after hospital stay

Delta looking to add over 30 dedicated pickleball courts by 2022

The program would see eight outdoor pickleball courts built in North Delta before the end of 2019

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Man arrested after police standoff and fire at Abbotsford home

Suspect allegedly breached conditions to not be near victim or her home

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

UPDATE: Highway 1 reopened after multi-vehicle crash east of Chilliwack

Westbound lanes near Herrling Island were closed for hours amid busy holiday weekend traffic

Police watchdog investigating motorcycle crash in Kamloops

A Kamloops Mountie had stopped the driver for speeding, but they raced off from the 0fficer

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Most Read

l -->