SLEMON PARK, P.E.I. - Patients were quickly lowered under beds as gunfire flared over the hospital, shattering windows and hurling debris.
The pain and shock are one thing for those that survived these air raids, but then coming home to P.E.I. and recapping these experiences with loved ones was another.
“My dad was in the artillery when he damaged his ears and was placed in the 22nd General Hospital in England. They would often have to deal with machine gunfire and bombing,” said Randy Ross, who operated a booth at the pop-up museum in Slemon Park at a recent air show event. “One of the nurses was blown from one side of the courtyard to the other as a pilot gunned her down.”
Ross recounted other stories his father, Harold, shared with him after the war.
“Another story my dad shared was on a young German patient who had been hit by a flame thrower and his body was so badly burned that while the nurse was changing his dressings he would spit in her face because of the pain, and Dad said she just wiped it off and kept on going in a professional manner.”
Ross is concerned these firsthand accounts of combat, brotherhood, captivity, redemption and the aftermath of the war will soon be forgotten unless a permanent home is found for his collection of memorabilia, which includes various donations by members of the public.
“If we had a museum even at the base here in Slemon Park it would be quite a tourist attraction. People would come to see what their parents or grandparents were familiar with during the war and it would be nostalgic.”
As the generation of veterans decreases each year, Ross hopes there is a broader appreciation of what they stood for.
“They asked for nothing, but gave everything.”