Veteran Stories:
Tom Sharland

Army

  • Tom Sharland, as a young soldier, left behind a wife and three young daughters to serve in World War I. Like many of his time, he thought that conflict would be the war to end all wars. Collection courtesy of Dorothy Prieditis.

    Tom Sharland, as a young soldier, left behind a wife and three young daughters to serve in World War I. Like many of his time, he thought that conflict would be the war to end all wars. Collection courtesy of Dorothy Prieditis.
  • Postcard of a destroyed cathedral at Ypres.

    Postcard of a destroyed cathedral at Ypres.
  • Postcard Tom Sharland sent home to his daughter, Mary. Mr. Sharland hoped that his daughter was having fun and reminded her that summer was coming soon. March 15, 1916.

    Postcard Tom Sharland sent home to his daughter, Mary. Mr. Sharland hoped that his daughter was having fun and reminded her that summer was coming soon. March 15, 1916.
  • Postcard of Locres, Belgium. On the reverse, Tom Sharland wrote that this farmhouse was typical of Belgium but most of the house in Locres had been destroyed during the war.

    Postcard of Locres, Belgium. On the reverse, Tom Sharland wrote that this farmhouse was typical of Belgium but most of the house in Locres had been destroyed during the war.
  • Tom Sharland was in charge of this group of men after the Armistice and before he was sent home to Canada. On the back of this photo, he wrote to his wife that he would have so many stories to tell when he got home. January 6, 1919.

    Tom Sharland was in charge of this group of men after the Armistice and before he was sent home to Canada. On the back of this photo, he wrote to his wife that he would have so many stories to tell when he got home. January 6, 1919.
  • Tom Sharland with his graddaughter Dorothy Prieditis and great-grandson, Mark, at Sunnybrook Veterans' Hospital in Toronto, 1965. Mr. Sharland passed away later that year.

    Tom Sharland with his graddaughter Dorothy Prieditis and great-grandson, Mark, at Sunnybrook Veterans' Hospital in Toronto, 1965. Mr. Sharland passed away later that year.
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Tom Sharland is my grandfather. He was an honoured soldier in World War I, and a grandfather to all of us at home. He entered the Great War, and he left a wife and three daughters behind, and all of his brothers and family. What made the sacrifices he was about to make more tolerable was his belief was this was the 'War to End All Wars'. While he didn't have a high level of education, he had quite a strength of character and sense of integrity that drew people of all levels of society to him. And I do presume that these were the qualities that showed up on the battlefield, and he did earn the Distinguished Conduct Medal, which I believe is the second highest honour in the Canadian Army.

He was in the 1st Division of the 3rd Battalion during the war, and he was in the trenches. Of the time that he was there he fought in some of the most ferocious battles in Europe. One of the most famous is the Battle of Cambrai. I know that the horrors of these battles haunted him, probably until the end of his life. Actually, that was about the only time that he did express that he had still thought about the killing, and that the killing still did bother him. This was when he was in the DVA hospital, Sunnybrook. And this was only confided to – as far as I know – my brother who was visiting him, quite frequently just before he passed away. But for the rest of us, we didn't know any of this until we were older because after he came back, I understand that he refused to really talk about these things. And after the immediate adjustment period he got on with his life, and he really didn't want to look back. He had been gassed, I know he had trouble sleeping in a bed when he came back, but he did put his life together quite successfully when he got back. He received a piece of land as a DVA grant, and he personally built the family home there, in which he would remain until after World War II.

The family accounts say that after being so long away from family and friends that everything became more precious to him in those years, and apparently these were happy times and he soon had a son after he was home. But ironically, this son would fight in World War II twenty years later, and I say ironically because Tom really believed that he went to war to end all wars.

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