Veteran Stories:
John Roberts

Army

  • John Roberts in uniform before going overseas in 1943.

  • Pieces of shrapnel which landed at John Roberts' feet while in Italy.

  • John Roberts' medals (from left to right): The France and Germany Star, The Italy Star, The 1939-1945 Star, The Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and the 1939-1945 War Medal.

  • John Roberts' Service and Pay Book.

  • John Robert's Service and Pay Book.

  • A letter from St. Johns Ambulance confirming John Roberts' certifications shortly before entering the Canadian Army.

  • This photograph depicts the types of duties John Roberts undertook while serving in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps.

  • John Roberts (on left) training in Ontario before being sent to Europe.

  • John Roberts discharge certificate dated November 27th, 1945.

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"When I was at headquarters recuperating from my third attack and my chum came to me. He asked if he could come to visit me because we had been quite close. So all the dinner supplies were being picked up by their unit from headquarters. So he came and visited with me and we had prayer together and then his unit was gone. Within two days I received word that the day after he left he had been hit by a shell."

Transcript

We realized that history first of all – that was one thing when we took our history in high school – at least, almost, at least 50 percent of the history is warfare. Really, that’s how it is and so that – but of course as you read the history it’s just the general statement, maybe that so many were killed but you don’t stop to think of individuals or children or what, it’s just numbers. Whereas of course when you’re there it’s individuals. When I was at headquarters recuperating from my third attack and my chum came to me. He asked if he could come to visit me because we had been quite close. So all the dinner supplies were being picked up by their unit from headquarters. So he came and visited with me and we had prayer together and then his unit was gone. Within two days I received word that the day after he left he had been hit by a shell but to let me know that he knew nothing about it. He was a passenger with a batman [assistant] driver and the officer and he was sitting in the centre and his pack was just straight behind him and this one shell that wasn’t in the midst of what you call active firing, but you do know that shelling always followed you later on. And the one shell literally went through the back, clipped off the handle of a broom, clipped it right off and went right through the pack which was on his back and he didn’t know anything about it at all. Now I knew that he’d been an Associate Pastor. He’d gone through Bible College. He’d had all that experience and he’d even been a power of strength, even to me. And here I still had to go through all that and my first reaction was ‘Lord, why didn’t you take me?’ Because Ed [Stavenow], going back home immediately continued the call that was his and that was your first feeling and that was an interesting observation. No matter who you were, you always had the feeling for the other party. And that’s sort of an interesting psychological aspect too, but you weren’t happy that you’d been protected. You didn’t think that way even. You always thought about the other and of course naturally in all your training, you become really a brother. You’re all brothers no matter what your background, you know. So you always thought about the other person. But just a point of interest for you, the last church that I had before official retiring from the pastorate, was Arnprior, Ontario where Ed Stavenow grew up there. He had been Associate Pastor there and here I was called to be Senior Pastor at that church that Ed, who was killed there in the front – and then in the report that I gave about my coming, I added a PS and I said I had the privilege of serving with the Ed Stavenow through Sicily in Italy and of course they all knew that he been passed away. And I have a picture of the cross where he was buried and they didn’t even know under what circumstances, so I said that I’d be happy to meet you as a family and then I mentioned the date when I was beginning. So they were all there at the evening service and after the service I was able to give to them the first time the picture of the cross with Ed Stavenow on it and just share and let them know that he had not one second of suffering or hurt at all and that was how many years afterwards? About 50, 60 years afterward you know. So that was a real privilege but just imagine being led where we had served together and yet I followed in his footsteps. He was an Associate when he joined and I was the Senior Pastor years afterwards right in that same place. You know, to experience things like that is just so unique and special.
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