Darrell Walker is dedicated to honouring the forgotten Canadians who fought in the Spanish Civil War. (Rick Stiebel/News staff)

Metchosin veteran remembers forgotten soldiers

More than 1,500 Canadians served in the Spanish Civil War

Rick Stiebel/News staff

Darrell Walker will wait his turn in line and lay a wreath during the Remembrance Day service at Veterans Memorial Park in honour of the forgotten Canadians who fought in the Spanish Civil War.

This year will mark the second time the Metchosin resident will purchase a wreath in honour of the roughly 1,500 Canadians who went to Spain between 1936 and 1939 to battle the Germans and Italians in what was an ominous precursor of the carnage that would unfold during the Second World War.

It is a tradition Walker began when he was a member of the Legion in Salmon Arm, an act of remembrance he is determined to continue at the Prince Edward Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion in Langford, where he has been a member for the past four years. “I asked the Legion last year if I could buy a wreath and lay it and they agreed,” Walker explained.

Walker was conscripted into service in his hometown of Victoria when he was 18. He trained in artillery and served in infantry enforcement in Holland and Germany in 1945 and 1946, when most of the fighting had ceased.

“A lot of people don’t know that Canadians served in the Spanish Civil War,” Walker said. “I knew someone who said their history teacher wasn’t even familiar with it. I think it’s really important to acknowledge the first Canadians to oppose Fascism and the sacrifices they made. The Germans and Italians had new weapons and methods of bombing that hadn’t been used before Spain, they were testing them out for the Second World War. I read a letter in a newspaper from a Canadian serving in Spain that he sent to his sister saying if they lost in Spain, there would be a world war in six months. It turns out that’s exactly what happened.”

About three-quarters of the Canadians who served in Spain were recent immigrants who sidestepped Canada’s policy of non-intervention in the conflict, which was the norm for most countries at the time.

The majority of the Canadians were dispatched with U.S. battalions before a separate Canadian one called the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion was formed in 1937.

So little is known about those who died in the Spanish Civil War whose names aren’t included in Canada’s Book of Remembrance in Ottawa.

Walker appreciates the efforts of Joe Barrett, the son of former B.C. premier Dave Barrett, in helping keep their memories alive. Barrett, a former Spanish language teacher, was instrumental in the establishment of The Spirit of the Republic monument near the B.C. Legislature that honours those who served in Spain. “There’s an effort now by the Spanish government to try and identify all of the soldiers from other countries who died in Spain,” Walker noted. “Every effort like that helps keep the story alive. It’s an important part of our history. We need to honour those who served and to have a better understanding of what they did. It’s an important part of ensuring world wars don’t happen again.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Cyclist defecates, throws own poop at car in Victoria

Prior to fecal incident, witnesses said cyclist was verbally abusive to driver

Reducing harm with ‘I carry naloxone’ buttons

Victoria-based designer makes buttons with social justice messages

It took 10 Victoria households’ worth of property tax to remove the John A. Macdonald statue, watchdog says

The Grumpy Taxpayer$ group says the $30,000 could have been reduced with better planning

Coin-opperated pinball arcade opens in downtown Victoria

Quazar’s Arcade offers new and retro games, with approval from Jeff Goldblum

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Laine scores 3 as Jets double Canucks 6-3

Injury-riddled Vancouver side drops sixth in a row

Deportation averted for Putin critic who feared return to Russia

Elena Musikhina, a vocal critic of the Kremlin, has been granted a two-year visitor’s permit in Canada

Outreach group ordered to stop feeding homeless on City of Parksville property

City issued Manna Homeless Society cease and desist order after complaints from public

Victim’s girlfriend testifies on first day of 2016 Chemainus murder trial

“I was soaked in blood from the neck down”: witness

B.C. to allow Uber-style ride hailing services to operate in late 2019

Fee will be applied to fund options for disabled people

Auditor general takes aim at Liberals’ fighter-jet plan

Suditor general Michael Ferguson is about to release a new report on Canada’s attempts to buy new fighter jets

B.C. couple converts ambulance into a traveling home

The Revelstoke couple plan on touring B.C. ski hills then driving to Mexico

Jamie Koe, other curlers kicked out of bonspiel for being too drunk

‘You don’t kick around other players’ bags, it’s disrespectful and we expect better of our players’

Most Read