ICE LAKE—Les Osborne comes from a military background. His father was in the Canadian Armed Forces and his Uncle Sonny is buried in Africa.
“It was what I grew up with,” stated Mr. Osborne when asked what made him choose his occupation. There is a long line of service to Canada in his family.
Mr. Osborne joined the army in 1957, spending two years in Petawawa for boot camp and then Gagetown, New Brunswick for seven weeks in the bush doing maneuver training.
In September of 1959 Mr. Osborne, wife Gloria and with infant daughter Bonnie, went to Soest, Germany where his role was that of a Lance Corporal.
Officers would police those from their own country. For example, if an altercation occurred and there were two or more people involved, one from Holland, another from Great Britain and one from Canada, Mr. Osborne would be assigned to the Canadian and the others by an officer from their home country.
The people in Germany were “super nice,” shared Mr. Osborne.
Approximately 1,000 men from his unit were stationed in Germany. As a corporal Mr. Osborne was the equivalent of ‘city police’ where the military police, or provost corporal, were more like Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers.
While Canadian officers were stationed in Soest, Americans were in Frankfurt and the Brits closer to Holland.
Having spent some time in Holland, what surprised the couple was the number of bicycles they saw.
“Each base,” shared Mr. Osborne, “had a hockey arena that held 3,000 people.” When he asked the locals why they liked hockey so much their response was that they often played against Canadians and there were always plenty of fights.
Mr. Osborne shared his recollection of visiting Belson, Germany where there was a large mound, “higher than my house (a bungalow) of murdered Jews who were buried there.”
He also said that birds and butterflies were seen everywhere but none at this site in Belson. “It was so quiet,” he commented.
While in Germany Mr. Osborne had two guardian angels, Jean Paul and Gerry, who “always had his back,” as he would also do for them.
Although he and his friends did not see ‘action’ in the form of battle, they were not exempt from personal tragedy. Mr. Osborne shared the story of how his buddy Ted was the victim of an accident on a foggy S-turn on the highway. A memory that is still very vivid and emotional.
Mr. Osborne and his wife had a second daughter, Georgia, while in Germany and returned back to Canada just two weeks before Christmas in 1962.
When two of our own were tragically killed last month everyone, including the Osbornes, felt many emotions including sadness and anger in the violent acts. This type of thing just doesn’t happen here.
Each year Mr. Osborne lays a wreath at the Remembrance Day service held at the Kagawong Park Centre and will again on Tuesday, November 11.