William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD
DAD’S SHADOW BOX
I have a small box of my father’s things
His rosary his medals his watch and his rings
He gave me his medals to hang on the wall
After his visit, and his last sad phone call
Of World War Two, they tell a true story
Of heartache and fear of honour and glory
Wounded three times he returned to the front
‘Twas Guardsmen like dad who suffered the brunt
His badges and flashes of the GGFG
Were put in the box that was given to me
The badges are shined now and the ribbons are new
The medals of silver have his name on them too
They hang in my den in a box on the wall
To remind me of one who once gave his all
To keep the world safe for both you and me
He fought the good fight, far over the sea
RIP DAD: LOVE BILLY
©Copyright February 4, 2003 by William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD
Author’s Note: Dad was wounded three times but never talked about it until he started going bald which is when we noticed all the shrapnel wound in his skull. The third time he was wounded, he was blinded by an incendiary bomb which killed every one else in his section. After having the bandages taken off, he could see again and the Sergeant Major asked if anyone could drive?
Dad said he had driven a team of horses – to which the CSM replied, “That is good lad, come with me.” They showed him how to start the 5 ton lorry and let him drive around the compound all afternoon. When he mastered the shifting of gears they said he had passed the course.
The following day dad was behind the wheel of a fully loaded truck filled with hand grenades heading for the ferry and on to the front lines with a convoy of ammunition. He could see the aircraft fighters strafing the road and shooting at each other and he decided he would like to get back into the infantry where he could see who was shooting at him.
Arriving at the front line he asked for a transfer back to his old unit (the Governor General Foot Guards (GGFG)) – the Sergeant at the ammo dump said that now that he was now in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps and a “trained tradesman” a driver; he was much too valuable to be released to the Infantry. He spent the remainder of the war hauling rations and ammo to the front.
“One good thing”, he recalled, “was that I was able to stop and throw out boxes of hard tack biscuits to the starving children in Belgium and Holland.”
Both the GGFG and the RCASC cap badges are in the shadow box – the other pictures are of me and Grandpa and they are in the box with dad’s dog tags and my dog tags.
Dad has been gone since 1998 – An old soldier, he just faded away. The poem, “Ode to a Shanty Man” tells the story of his life.
I was that which others did not want to be. I went where others feared to go. And did what others failed to do. I asked nothing from those who gave nothing, and reluctantly accepted the thought of eternal loneliness, should I fail. I have seen the face of terror, felt the cold sting of fear, and enjoyed the sweet taste of a moment of love. I have cried, pained and hoped, but most of all I have lived times others would say were best forgotten. At least someday I will be able to say I was proud of what I was: AN AIRBORNE SOLDIER
Submitted for the February 2003 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “Memory Box”