The Great War Experience
|Pvt. William Michel 62268
Regiment 22, the Van Doos
Canadian Expeditionary Force
Among the first contingents of volunteers was a twenty-year old Algonquin named William Michel, who enlisted in 1915. Wounded twice in combat, he came home in poor health and suffering from the effects of poison gas until his death in 1962.
|Pvt. Joseph Odjick 805655
75th Battalion CEFJoseph was twenty years old when he enlisted to go overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. A member of the 75th Battalion, Joseph and his comrades faced a daunting assignment at Vimy Ridge: to capture the highest point of the ridge dubbed “the Pimple” in three days of fierce fighting. He participated at the battle of Passchaendaele where he was wounded by shrapnel from a German air bursting shell. Joseph was killed along with fifty-seven of his comrades at the Battle of the Hindenburg Line on the morning of September 2, 1918. He was twenty-two years old.
Abraham Odjick was a camp cook at a Canadian training camp depot in England.
|Three of Cecine Natawesi’s boys left Kitigan Zibi to fight the Great War. They were Simon Kaponichin, Holenger Gagnon, and Frank James Gagnon. Her sons all became casualties at the Somme in 1916. Simon and Holenger were both wounded there. Frank James was killed.|
|In 1919, Simon left Maniwaki for Alberta to run a farm on a Veteran’s grant. Simon is shown in the photograph at Cecine’s headstone at Cimitière No. 1 in Maniwaki, twenty-two years after her death in 1941.|
The Second World War
One of the first Algonquins to enlist for the Second World War, was Daniel Whiteduck, who served as a transport driver attached to Le Regiment 22, the Van Doos. Dan was in Holland during the Liberation, and then later Germany during the post-war Occupation.
|«I had a nightmare once that I had died and
they were putting me in one of those holes…
You were thankful to come back.»
|Basil was twenty-four years old when his life ended on a village street in Normandy. A shell blast sent debris hurtling at a group of Canadian soldiers who were moving from house to house. A brick impacted Basil’s steel helmet with enough force to crush his skull.|
|Robert was shot in the stomach on April 13, 1945, in the fight to liberate Holland. A Canadian army surgeon operated twice to stop the internal bleeding. A Canadian nurse came to Robert’s bed to check on him regularly. He was conscious and talking. The nurse saw no signs of trauma. When she came back at 4:20 p.m. on the afternoon of April 17, 1945, Robert was dead. Inside his pack were found three baptism certificates of his children, Betsy, Simon, and Freeda. Robert Simon Odjick and Basil Odjick were brothers.|
Three thousand Canadian soldiers left their landing crafts to start the first wave assault on June 6, 1944. It was three minutes after eight in the morning. Of those three thousand Canadians, one of them was born at Kitigan Zibi. His name was Steve Budge, and he was at Juno Beach when the ramps went down.
«Five hundred yards out and all hell exploded on us when the Germans opened up. The sky was lit up like fireworks. The Germans were firing tracer bullets. It looked like the Fourth of July. You wouldn’t believe the awful noise. It was a hard morning. Yeah, it was really hard…»
Steve enlisted in 1939, the moment war was declared. The army promised a steady paycheck. They paid you one dollar and forty cents a day to be in the army, and they fed you three square meals a day.
«I was a gunner inside a Sherman tank that landed at Juno. Bullets were ricocheting against the turret, and you could barely hear yourself think. We went inland and set up a perimeter to protect the beaches. The SS hit us the next day. They had big tanks, bigger than ours».
The German Panther tank weighed 45 tons. It was armed with a hi-velocity 75 mm gun that fired solid steel shot shells. Steve’s Sherman tank weighed 32 tons, and its short gun was no match for the powerful Panther’s. There was a tremendous bang when the Panther’s shell penetrated Steve’s tank. Steve was the only man to bail out of the burning tank and live to fight another day.
|Cpl. Sam Cote C121475
Regiment de la Chaudière Sam landed in Normandy on June 9, 1944. He was a reinforcement posted to Le Regiment de la Chaudière. The Chaudières were tough French-Canadian boys.
|The Chaudières sent out night patrols to capture Hitlerjugend soldiers. Sam was one of those Chaudières who went out at night into the SS lines. The Chaudières took their fists to any 12th SS soldier who fell into their hands. When Sam came home after the war, he refused to talk about what went on out there.|
The Island of Iwo Jima
In the vast expanse of the Pacific, any Japanese-held island that was big enough to hold an airstrip became a strategic target. One of these islands was Iwo Jima.
Twenty-two year-old Frank McDougall from Kitigan Zibi was a United States Marine at Iwo Jima. He witnessed the famous flag-raising on top of Mount Suribachi. The date was February 23, 1945, and there were still thirty-two more days to go, but Frank’s war on Iwo would end twenty-days later when a Japanese sniper drilled him through the helmet. The bullet meant to kill him ricocheted around inside his helmet and gouged his forehead. He came home in 1947, got married, and had kids.