Ancestry.com

Selected Canadian Service Records—Lest We Forget

Posted by Paul Rawlins on September 16, 2010 in Content

This week, two databases—and 200 lives—went online as part of a special partnership between Ancestry.com and Library and Archives Canada to support the popular “Lest We Forget” educational initiative. This program helps students explore the lives of Canada’s soldiers and their sacrifices through selections from the service files of 200 veterans of the First or Second World War. Ancestry.com is making those files available online as Canada, Selected Service Records of Soldiers, 1914–1918, and Canada, Selected Service Records of War Dead, 1939–1945, to allow more students to participate in the program—and to let the rest of us remember men like Sergeant L. J. Patrick Lafleur.

In June 1940, 22-year-old Leonard James Patrick Lafleur of Montreal, Canada, worked as a fruit clerk for Steinberg’s, a retail grocery chain.

But he had bigger aspirations. Steinberg’s had promised to rehire him after his enlistment in the R.C.A.F., but Lafleur was hoping to turn his radio hobby into a career with a broadcasting company.

Lafleur stood a little under 5′ 10″, slender, with brown hair and blue eyes, and he had been only an average (71%) high school student. However, he impressed the R.C.A.F. with his “confident approach” and “upright carriage.”

The Air Force didn’t consider Lafleur officer material, but they did think he “would make an excellent Airgunner.”

By 1941, Lafleur appeared to be on his way, posted to a training depot in Toronto in the Royal Canadian Air Force Special Reserve as both an air gunner and a wireless operator. In June the next year, 1942, he made sergeant.

He was serving overseas in September when his plane took off on an anti-submarine sweep on the 12th. The aircraft made radio contact at 9:10 p.m., but afterward failed to return to base. Searchers later found a dinghy with the body of one of the crew and determined that the plane was probably “shot down in the vicinity of Land’s End.”

When I read the letter, I had to wonder if it was Sergeant Lafleur on the radio at 9:10, making his final broadcast.

You may not have a relative among the 200 soldiers in these First or Second World War collections, but trust me, they’re still worth a look.

Because the sacrifice is still worth remembering.

4 comments

Comments
1 worshacfSeptember 16, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Thank you a million times over; all of my ancestors are from Canada. I can hardly wait to get into these “Lest We Forget” Education Initiative records.

The data base for WWI Canadian Soldiers has been available on ancestry, and I have found many of my ancestors who served. But it has been discouraging that no records were available for my Canadian ancestors who served in WWII. Looks like I’ll be busy in the next few weeks.

Perhaps someday the entire list of RCAF pilots and their crew for WWI will be available. Until then, I’ll keep my fingers crossed and waiting to go through those when you get them.

2 MarieSeptember 27, 2010 at 8:43 am

My Mother was in the RCAF during WWII. I was disappointed not to find any records on her.

3 Paul RawlinsSeptember 27, 2010 at 9:39 am

Marie,

Unfortunately, most people won’t find their ancestors in these two collections because all we are hosting are the selections from the 200 files being made available for the Lest We Forget project. Knowing how rich the content can be, I hope someday we’ll have access to more.

4 RobinSeptember 27, 2010 at 9:25 pm

I found the husband of one of my great aunt’s in these records so they are appreciated, both personally and historically. These people SHOULD be remembered but I would like to point out to the Canadian government they have millions of others every day citizens who should be remembered but can’t be because they won’t allow their census records online.

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