Private Raymond John Gagnon

Nov 9, 2021 | History, NEWS, Publications, Uncategorized | 0 comments

By Mary Ann Grant

The son of Aimee and Emile Gagnon came to Rathburn, Ontario (Monck Road) from Alberta as a boy. The family operated a small strawberry farm on the 12th Concession of Mara Township. A happy-go-lucky lad, Gagnon enjoyed joking with his siblings and attending community dances.

He made an agreement with his older brother that Robert would stay home to help on the farm while Ray enlisted in the army. He belonged to Guardian Angels Parish and attended Orillia Collegiate Institute for two years, after which he went to work for the Tudhope Anderson Company.

Gagnon enlisted June 15, 1944. The recruiting officer described him as having “above-average learning ability and is mentally alert…his manner is quiet and subdued.”

He went overseas on October 21, 1944, joining his unit, the 10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Armoured Division, in Europe on November 18, 1944.

Gagnon fought battles in Belgium, Holland and Germany. He participated in an attack through a heavily fortified gap in Hochwald forest in Germany. At three in the morning, the battalion advanced uphill into the Hochwald Gap behind and artillery barrage. By the first light of day, the leading companies had fought down the eastern slope to a road where they tried to hold their position, despite efforts by the newly-arrived 24th Parachute regiment to dislodge them. Gagnon’s B Company took the brunt of the attacks and by nightfall had been reduced to 15 men. Gagnon lost his life in the action.

Private Raymond John Gagnon

Service Number: B/24458

Force: Army

Unit: Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s)

Enlisted June 15, 1944

Shipped overseas October 21, 1944

Died February 28, 1945

Age at death: 23

Cause of death: Killed in action, Germany

Cemetery: GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY – Netherlands

Grave Reference: XIV.D.11

We Shall Remember Them

Further reading:

Orillia’s Fallen: World War II:  The Boys Who Didn’t Make it Mome by Jim Watt

Chronicling soldiers from Orillia and surrounding area who lost their lives. This book is available in the OMAH Shop.

Click on the book cover below to purchase the book.

Proudly She Marched by Anne Kallin

This book documents the service of 21,624 young women who served as part of the during World War II. Wartime newspaper accounts, photographs, and excerpts from the official War Diaries give a detailed experiences of their line of duty and the challenges they faced. These young women forever changed Canadian History being the first of their kind to served their country in military uniform.

 

Click on the book cover below to purchase the book.

With thanks to:

 

Jim Watt for generously allowing me to share his research and excerpts from his book

Veteran Affairs Canada veterans.gc.ca

Anne Kallin for her work documenting the role of the women in World War II

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