In Six who served, Marianne Van Osch tells the story of the war service of six neighbors of Forest Grove.
Longtime Forest Grove correspondent and columnist for the 100 mile free press, Van Osch has published several books on local history over the past 15 years. Six who served tells the stories of Larry Bakken, Gillis Bailey, Sylvia Collier, John Hood, Lloyd Junior, and Jack Hunt, all of whom served in World War II.
“These are neighbors of a small community who were all WWII veterans. Now they never told each other their stories, but each of them had a very unique story and showed great courage during their service, ”said Van Osch. “They were so young, these people, and there is no connection between their experiences. One was shot in the back, one was a prisoner of war and another was one of the famous daughters of the earth. They are absolutely distinct.
After getting to know the six, Van Osch decided that their stories should be written down on paper. Choosing a favorite is impossible, she said, because all of them were her friends.
But Hunt’s story, above all, stands out. An observation post flagman with the 13th Canadian Field Regiment, he spent much of the war in front of Allied lines relaying intelligence on enemy troop and artillery movements.
During the liberation of Europe, Hunt describes hearing artillery shells constantly flying overhead and being one of the first Canadian soldiers to set foot on German soil. Hunt died in 2009, but his uniform and a notebook containing war poetry are still on display in the Forest Grove Legion.
Van Osch’s only regret is that she didn’t start the process sooner while other Forest Grove veterans were still around. All of the veterans featured in the book have since passed away, and it’s important for Van Osch to keep their memories alive.
Six who served has the distinction of boasting of his favorite cover design: Van Osch loves the visual storytelling and symbolism of six red maple leaves set against a black and white background.
Meanwhile, Van Osch also released Letters from Bradley Creek this month, a collection of his personal letters sent to Doug Page, a “dear friend” in Ontario, in 1993. He details his first months in the Cariboo and what it was like to be a city dweller immersing himself in Forest Grove, where everything is done on “Cariboo time”.
“It only covers a short period of time, but it was like being in a movie,” Van Osch said. “I was just overwhelmed by the nature, the people and the way of life up there. At that time, you went to town once every two weeks. Many characters are still strong in Bradley Creek. “
As she sent out her letters, written on an old typewriter, Van Osch made carbon copies of each letter to serve as a sort of journal. Page encouraged her to put them together in one book and almost 30 years and eight different books later, she followed his advice. Writing about herself was the hardest thing she’s ever done, but she said it was a process she loved.
Both books are self-published and Van Osch said they would not be available in any store. Those interested in recovering them can contact her at 250-397-2625.
“I find with all the things I write about the fact that we live on the edge of society which will never be the same again. Later, I think young people will be so busy with a confusing world and these stories will take a back seat, ”said Van Osch. “But later, these stories will become extremely important as they look back on a way of life that has stopped.”
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