On The War Memorial Trail….. A Face For Philip Hubert Long

November 1, 2020. Recently, Pieter was interviewed by David Pate on CBC Radio’s Maritime Noon, where he made an appeal for a photo of WW2 soldier Philip Hubert LONG, who is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.  (You can listen to the interview here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1R07RkSjTeshJA_-UO_W68fsY3FHCSLPB/view?usp=sharing)

Within two hours of the broadcast, Pieter received a call from a family member, and a few weeks later, a photo was provided, along with biographical information.  Permission was granted to post information, with the request that “…no reference be made to the current survivors. You are doing great work on this project and I wish you success with the follow-up you may be working on with any other veterans...”  In order to respect the wishes of family members for privacy, they are not identified.

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Philip Hubert Long.  (Photo courtesy of the Family of P H Long)

Family members submitted the following biography for the researchers at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten:

…On May 29, 1921, Philip was welcomed into his family of parents Philip and Elizabeth Long, sister Jessie May, and brother Harold Chisholm in the village of Springville in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Following the illness and death in 1925 of his mother from tuberculosis, Philip, at three years old, went to live with his aunt Mary and uncle James MacLean on a small farm in Island East River, not too far from where Philip Sr. had moved the family to the village of Thorburn, Pictou County, to work as a coal miner.  During their childhood, Harold spent most summers with Philip at the farm and, as they grew older, helped with the chores and enjoyed the adventures offered by life in the country.  Phil liked working with the animals and, following graduation from school, stayed on at the farm where he had his dog and team of horses.

Although he was exempt from military duty due to an injury to his leg when a boy, Philip enlisted with the Cape Breton Highlanders in October 1943 at the age of twenty-two.  He was called up for duty and sailed for England in mid-December 1944.  His plan was to return to Canada when the war was over and buy a small farm of his own. 

In his first letter to Jessie after arriving in London dated January 5, 1945, Phil wrote that he had located brother Harold in London and they had just returned from an evening out to dinner and a show.  Harold had gone overseas earlier and had joined the British army as a Canloan officer.  He had been injured in action in Holland and was just completing his convalescence period in England when Phil arrived in London.  While Phil and Harold were both in the London area, they were able to get together on several occasions for some relaxation before they were both sent to Holland.

Phil wrote his last letter to Jessie on April 18, 1945, from Belgium as his unit was en route to Holland.  Shortly after, Jessie and their father were notified that Philip had been killed in action in Northern Holland on April 30, 1945.

 A tribute to Philip in the local newspaper in Pictou County read:

Philip is gone.  The lovable kindly lad who never had a viscous thought, is sleeping in Holland.  He gave his life—just as he lived—doing a little more than he was asked to do, being exempt from military duty.  But that is one thing we shall never forget about him.  No matter what he was asked to do, he always did a little more.  We have memories of his childhood:  his blond curly hair, his contagious laugh, his affectionate disposition.  He was a good student and a wide reader.

Phil was never intended to be a fighter; he loved people too much.  War to him was a job to be done, so that he and millions of other Canadian boys could lead normal lives when it was finished.  But the great tragedy of the many lads who died for us is that they never had a chance at life.  So little time to have achieved their hope of homes of their own and a future bursting with opportunities….

Edwin van der Wolf of the Canadian War Cemetery in The Netherlands explained that Philip Long was “…killed in action in Northern Holland on Monday April 30, 1945, age 23, during the battle of the Delfzijl Pocket. And he was temporarily buried then in Wirdum, Groningen and he was reburied thereafter on February 16 1946 in Holten…

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Grave of Philip Hubert Long.  (Photo courtesy of the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten)

20 members of the Cape Breton Highlanders lost their lives in the Battle of the Delfzijl Pocket. Two of these were from Prince Edward Island: Carmen GILLCASH and John Archibald MACLAREN.

For more information on the ongoing request for photos, please see: On The War Memorial Trail….. Continuing The Search For Soldiers Killed In Action In WW1 and WW2

Thank you to the family of Philip Hubert Long and to Edwin van der Wolf from the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten for sharing information and photos.  If you have photos or information to share, please email Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

7 thoughts on “On The War Memorial Trail….. A Face For Philip Hubert Long

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