Page one carried 19 stories, 17 of which covered the horrific conditions of the war in Europe that Canada had been fighting for over two years. One of the 19 stories called for public help in housing the hundreds of clerks that had been called into the city to help with all the massive paperwork that red tape called for. The public were urged to help house the clerks. Government suggested bed sitting should be offered at $15... for a whole month. Food and lodgings ought to go for between $30 and $35 for the month, they said.
The character was about a daredevil bush pilot who wanted to get into the war effort. The movie was designed not only to entertain but to put the message in front of those in all of North America, of serving age, to step forth and enlist. The picture was produced by the Warner Brothers family from Poland who emmigrated to the US, then some coming to Canada, two being born here, and the family later pioneering in the film business back in the US. (It was the same firm that recently released the highly acclaimed American Sniper movie, about Chris Kyle, whom many argue is worthy of the Medal of Honor.
The captioned picture above and its story no doubt made it to the covers of papers across Canada. And perhaps Charles saw it when he walked the streets of Montreal that sunny day back in 1941. Charles was a teen and he was from Ramsey New Jersey.
Just 2 months past his 17th birthday, Charles was supposed to be in highschool. But the family told me he ran away from home, and thanks to many a trucker, found himself in Montreal and somehow convinced the authorities that he was of legal age (18) and signed up with the famous Black Watch to head off to the battlefields of Europe. (The Watch was a special force that later in the war followed in the footsteps of the Devils Brigade, noted in many recent columns in this space.)
Charles was not the first underaged to join the military with the hopes of heading off to do his bit. Nor was he the first to head north from the US and serve with the Canadian Forces of the day.. before..and since.
It's been said that some 20% of all soldiers who fought in the US Civil War were under the legal age of 18. Research Johnny Clem of the 2nd Michigan who dropped his drum to pick up a rifle and shoot a Confederate Colonel. Clem was only 10 years old at the time. Many a year earlier in a Battle called Waterloo, 4,000 boys fought. Each was well under the age of 18. And in WW11 Canadian forces boys numbered between 4 and 5 THOUSAND, and under 18 years of age. A few were only 13. More recently, in the Battle of the Falklands, there are claims of OVER 65% of those wearing the British uniform, started their service at an age below that of an 18 year old.
Of those coming north to join the Canadian Forces in times of war, columns in this space have brought you many of these stories. Some involving heroes who, two years into the war, switched over to serve in US units when America joined the war effort, and then went on to earn Medals of Honor.
In early 1941, almost a year before the US joined the war, some 6000 Americans were alrerady serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Some 600 of these being instructors to boot. Famed American Joe McCarthy of the Dambusters wore the Canadian uniform of an airman, as did High Flight's writer John Gillespie. At the same time some 10,000 were wearing the uniforms of Canadian soldiers. Thousands more would join the ranks of the Canadians before the war came to an end.
The family tells me that he was found by complete fluke. An insurance agent was having some dealings with the family when it was mentioned that Charles was missing. Soon thereafter that agent went on holdiday... to Montreal, of all places. Sitting in a pub were several soldiers. One mentioed a hometown of Ramsey. The agent was also from Ramsey, a small community of about 15,000. What were the odds of the two bumping into each other in a Montreal pub. But met they did. And soon the agent was telling his client, Charles' parents... where the youth was.
Wonder if the agent increased his premiums for rectifying the loss! Hehe.
The family notes that Congressman J. Parnell Thomas of New Jersey was asked to help get the Canadian government to release Charles and send him back home to his family in Ramsey. It is not known what part Parnell took, but as a WWl veteran himself, no doubt he was of some assistance. From the above Discharge Certificate it is noted that letters were received, from probably the family or possibly Congressman Thomas. The very next day Charles Ernest Hosking Jr was released from further service in the Canadian Army.
He had served a whopping 25 days with the Black Watch!
Back home he returned to high school. But soon he was off again. And again northbound he went. But this time he was detained by border agents and the family called to recover him, yet again.
Destined to put a uniform on again, he would join the United States Coast Guard for a short period. By May of 1943 Charles had left the USCG and travelled about 100 miles south to Fort Dix New Jersey to sign up with the US Army. It would be just a few months less than 2 years after he joined the Canadian army. He was now of age and I guess a 100 mile hitchhike was better than a 350 mile hitchhike in the other direction to Montreal.
But more on this on Sunday.
In the mean time please give some thought on Wednesday to the over 3,500 men and one woman who earned the Medal of Honor over its more than 150 year history. Well over 100 of these men came from, or had connections to Canada. That aside, scholars have said that today, over 3 MILLION Canadians are from, or have traces to the United States.
And Wednedsay that country, as we should, will be celebrating National Medal of Honor Day. It was on March 25 1863 that the first ever MOH was presented, and it went to a fellow named Jacob Parott, who's relative I have had a priviledge in interviewing several times and duly noted in this space in the past.
Give thought also to the incredible accomplishments of Doctor Mary Walker the only female recipient of the MOH, in this month of March. It is Womens History Month in the United States. Thanks to three Victoria BC women, my late mother being one, we celebrate the month in October of each year.
see you on Sunday next.