June 17, 2022. Some families span generations of military service, as we discovered when researching the life of WWII soldier Cecil Edward GOODREAU of North Bay, Ontario. Not only did Cecil serve during WWII, but two of his brothers did as well:
- Murrel Robert, who worked at National Grocers in North Bay before enlisting in 1942
- William (Bill) Joseph, who worked at Rankin’s Grocery in North Bay before enlisting
Both Murrel and Bill returned home from the war. Cecil didn’t.
The three brothers followed in the footsteps of their father Henry (Harry) Goodreau, who enlisted in WWI and served in France. While in England he met and married Margaret Daisy. They had 2 boys born there before returning to Canada in March 1919 on a ship full of troops and their wives and children.
Cecil was born July 9, 1924 in Cache Bay, Ontario, the son of Harry Joseph and Margaret Daisy Goodreau. He attended St Joseph’s Separate School in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, and after the family moved to North Bay when he was 12, he was a student at St Mary’s School in North Bay.
Before enlisting in Sudbury, Ontario on March 15, 1943, Cecil worked at the International Nickel Company (Inco) in Copper Cliff, Ontario. He was sent for training as a gunner at Camp Borden, Ontario before going overseas. He left Canada on November 25, 1943 and arrived in the United Kingdom on December 1, where he became part of the Canadian Armoured Corps Reinforcement Unit (CACRU).
While in the United Kingdom, he attended Gunnery and Wireless courses in preparation for the D-Day landings on June 4, 1944 in Normandy. Remarkably, he survived D-Day and on June 9, 1944 was transferred to the 27th Armoured Regiment (Sherbrooke Fusiliers).
… Cecil lost his life during Operation Blockbuster in Germany….
On November 1, 1944, while still in France, he was wounded when he sustained shell fragment wounds to his head and face, as well as his knee and shin, in an infantry accident. At the time of his death he was still carrying scars of the face and head shell wounds received in November.
Unfortunately, a few months later, Cecil was killed in action in Germany in the Battle of Keppeln on February 26, 1945 during Operation Blockbuster, the last part of Operation Veritable. He had been transferred to the 25th Armoured Delivery Regiment (Elgin Regiment) just the day before.
Cecil was initially buried near Kalkar, Germany. (For more information, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Blockbuster and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Veritable)
… Cecil’s great-niece contacted us….
Nancy Gribbons, daughter of Cecil’s niece Marie, wrote that “…My grandfather, Harry Goudreau, and Uncle Cecil were brothers. My mother talked of Uncle Cecil staying with them all the time and that they all loved him.
When he was 18, Uncle Cecil moved from North Bay to stay with Harry and Grandma Helene at their home in Copper Cliff, Ontario. Uncle Cecil worked at Inco mines before signing up in Sudbury to join the war.
My grandparents helped many persons by letting them stay at their home while working at the Inco mines. Inco was a large employer and people could make money to save.
In 1940 there was not a lot of work, especially in Northern Ontario, and men flocked to Sudbury to work in the mines. It was a mining town, and still is.
Grandpa Harry never got over losing his brother Cecil. He and Grandma Helen named their next child, a girl, Cecilla after him, and then the next and last was a boy and his name is Cecil Goudreau too.
Uncle Cecil was so loved and was saving to buy a farm in Verner, a farming community between North Bay and Sudbury, near Sturgeon Falls and Cache Bay, where he was born….”
…Memorial Plaque at Pro-Cathedral Of The Assumption Church in North Bay….
After Nancy told us that Cecil’s name was listed on a memorial plaque at the Pro-Cathedral of the Assumption Catholic Church in North Bay, we asked Don Coutts if he could arrange a visit there to see it.
Don contacted Karen Steel, Parish Administrator, who was present when we came to view the plaque.
…Cecil’s nephew had a photo….
Nancy Gribbons contacted her uncle Johnny Goudreau, a retired veteran, who wrote “…Thank you for your work on this project….” Johnny and his wife Beverley contributed the photo of Cecil, noting that there was a “…difference in the spelling for our last name. Goudreau is how this branch of the family spells the last name….”
Cecil was initially buried near Kalkar, Germany, before being reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.
Thank you to Johnny and Beverley Goudreau and Nancy Gribbons for sharing anecdotes about Cecil Goodreau and his photo. Heartfelt thanks to Don Coutts and Karen Steel for arranging the visit to the Pro-Cathedral of the Assumption Catholic Church to view the memorial plaque. Thank you also to Judie Klassen and Shawn Rainville for researching the newspaper and genealogy archives.
Our North Bay adventures continue in upcoming postings. If you know of any soldiers from the North Bay area that are buried in The Netherlands please let Pieter know. You can mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.
… Stories about other soldiers who lost their lives on February 26, 1945 during Operation Blockbuster…
- Frank Edward MCGOVERN: https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2020/12/09/the-search-for-a-photo-of-frank-edward-mcgovern-moves-to-youtube/
- Bernard ‘Barney’ Reuben MCGUIGAN: https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2021/12/23/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-photo-search-for-barney-mcguigan-is-successful/ and https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2020/08/07/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-search-for-barney-reuben-mcguigan/
- Elbridge Wellington MILLER: https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2021/04/15/on-the-war-memorial-trail-atlantic-canada-remembers-part-9/
…Missed the previous postings about our North Bay Memorial Trail visit?…
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© Daria Valkenburg
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