Remembering the Telegraphist Air Gunners
Donating A Piece Of History July 10, 2009 Article in The Welland Tribune (Welland ON) KAESHA FORAND , TRIBUNE STAF Friday, July 10, 2009 12:00:00 EDT AM Robert Geale hadn't walked the streets of Port Colborne since 1946. Much has changed since then, but more than 60 years later he returned with a cherished gift -- a special card honouring his service during the Second World War. Geale, affectionately known as Bob or Windy, lived in Port Colborne from his birth until 1943 when he left to join the Royal Navy Voluntary Reserve to fight in the Second World War. On May 28, 1943 he was posted to the HMS Canada in Halifax and was then posted in the United Kingdom for training as a telegraphist air gunner, a position he held until 1950. He returned to Port Colborne in 1946 to visit his family. At that time, mayor H. H. Knoll presented Geale with a card recognizing his war service to his country. A presentation parade was held where 5,000 citizens lined the streets of Port Colborne and 450 of Port Colborne's 575 armed service members received cards. On Wednesday, Geale returned to his hometown to donate the card to Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum. "I don't really know what to say. It's a pleasure to be back here. It has certainly changed," Geale said. "I put (the card) in my wallet and of course in my day I flew with my wallet because you never knew where you would end up." The card has a thick, layer of plastic -- similar to having been laminated. It has yellowed over the last 63 years, but it's in good condition considering Geale kept it in his wallet for years while he serve in the navy. The card bears the image of poppies, a cross, Port Colborne's logo and the following inscription: "1939 to 1946 not for himself but for his country." "In grateful recognition of your patriotic spirit and noble sacrifices as a voluntary member of the Canadian action forces. The citizens of Port Colborne hereby record their sincere appreciation of your dedication in the preservation of honour among nations and the freedom of the world." Museum assistant curator Lynn van Dillen said when the museum commemorates an important anniversary -- such as next year's 100th anniversary of the navy, the card will be on display. "There will be an exhibit to commemorate that and we will take soldier wartime artefacts," she said of the archives, letters, correspondences and items such as Geale's card. "We are very happy you thought of the museum when you decided to part with your card," she said to him with family and members of the community Wednesday at the L. R. Wilson Heritage Research Archive building. He served in the Canadian Navy until 1970 when he transferred to the Royal Australian Navy. He retired in 1984 after serving 41 consecutive years in naval aviation across three navies. Everywhere he went, so did the card in his wallet. It was with Geale in the Mediterranean, over the Indian Ocean, Singapore and Europe to name a few places. And most recently, in his home in New South Wales, Australia. As a thank you for the generous donation, Mayor Vance Badawey presented "Windy" with a plaque on behalf of the city which also had a replica of the card. Regional Coun. Bob Saracino said "as time passes on so do our veterans and their history," while emphasizing the importance of education through donations like the card. "We hope you will always have a soft sport for Port Colborne and we will always have a soft spot for you." Geale, his wife and daughter came to Ontario for a family reunion and spent three days in Port Colborne, with today being his last day. The original article is from the Welland Tribune at:
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