On The War Memorial Trail….. Atlantic Canada Remembers – Part 10

July 11, 2021. More of the photos submitted about Atlantic Canadian soldiers buried overseas are featured in Part 10. Pieter continues to ensure that photos of soldiers buried in The Netherlands are forwarded to the appropriate cemetery for their digital archives. 

Soldier buried at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands

Armand Gionet and family from Mel

Armand Gionet, far right, and his family.  (Photo courtesy of Edmonde Lanteigne)

Armel ‘Mel’ Lanteigne, President of the Caraquet branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, submitted a photo of Armand GIONET of Middle Caraquet, New Brunswick, explaining that he had found “…a picture for Armand Gionet, taken in front of the family farm and house.  From left to right: Lazare Gionet, Nicholas Hébert, Paul-Aurèle Gionet, Hectorine Gionet, Analda Gionet and at the end Armand Gionet, no name for the dog, sorry. 

Armand was a fisherman and a farmer. I took the house’s picture and did the leg work and phone calls.  I got the family’s picture from Edmonde Lanteigne, she is the daughter of Hectorine and Nicolas.  The house is owned by Victoria and Nicole, the daughters of Paul-Aurèle Gionet, Armand’s brother...

After the photo was submitted to the researchers at the Information Centre at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, journalist Jan Braakman, one of the researchers at the Centre, wrote us that the photo “…has a very special meaning for me. Armand Gionet died in my town of birth (Laren, province of Gelderland) at the same place, same time and same way as my grandmother, Dina Koeslag. They were caught in flames after their hiding place had been hit by a German pantzerfaust (according to the cause of death as noted by my grandmothers’ doctor.)...” A pantzerfaust is a bazooka.

I have never had a chance to know my grandmother (nor my grandfather, who had been arrested and was killed in a concentration camp near Hamburg). But every once in a while I find pieces of her life and death. This is such a piece. Thanks very much for forwarding this photo to the Information Centre….” 

Armand was born April 26, 1924 in Middle Caraquet, New Brunswick, the son of Lazare Gionet and Laura Hebert.  One of 8 children, he worked on his parents’ farm.  He was also in the Reserve Labour Pool for the port of Halifax, and worked as a freight handler at the port on an as needed basis.

On March 25, 1944 he enlisted. After basic training he was sent to England, arriving on December 25, 1944.  By February 1945 he was in continental Europe and assigned to Le Regiment de Maisonneuve.

At the beginning of April 1945, the Regiment was in The Netherlands.  On April 4, the Regiment prepared to cross the Twente Canal near Almen for an attack from the bridgehead towards the village of Laren. The battle began at 8 pm and went throughout the night.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twentekanaal)

The Regiment’s war diary for April 5, 1945 simply stated that: “…During the attack last night, we had 23 casualties and we captured 40 prisoners…” 

In a translated excerpt of a Dutch language article written by Jan Braakman, he summarized what happened. “…  Among the 23 casualties (wounded and killed) was Armand Gionet. During the fighting he ended up at a group of farms along the Zutphenseweg, just outside the church of Laren. Many civilians hid there from the violence of war. When Gionet and his mates arrived, the inhabitants were convinced that they had been liberated. They emerged from their hiding places in a euphoric mood.

Civilians and soldiers were festive on the road when suddenly fire was opened again by German soldiers. In panic everyone ran to a safe place. Armand Gionet took a position in the Klein Veldkamp farm, where many civilians… were looking for a safe place. But after a while the danger proved too great to stay there. The farm was on fire. Everyone had to go outside.

Fear reigned. In total chaos, everyone ran in one direction. Civilians were sent back by a wounded Canadian soldier as they walked towards the German fire. In the end, the neighbours found a makeshift shelter in a cowshed. Canadian soldiers sat upstairs.

The sky didn’t clear until late in the afternoon when Canadian jeeps pulled into the yard…..

In the aftermath, among the casualties were Armand Gionet and Jan Braakman’s grandmother, who both had perished at the Klein Veldkamp farm.  (To read the original Dutch article, see https://wp.janbraakman.nl/armand-gionet-kon-zijn-ambitie-niet-waarmaken/)

Armand is buried at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.  He was 19 years old. 

Soldier buried at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands

gilles lanteigne WWII

Gilles Lanteigne. (Photo courtesy of Dan Lanteigne)

Armel ‘Mel’ Lanteigne, President of the Caraquet branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, submitted a photo of Gilles LANTEIGNE, explaining that the photo came from “….Dan Lanteigne’s private collection.  He does research on the Lanteigne family…

Born March 27, 1924 in Caraquet, New Brunswick, the son of Ella and Prospère Lanteigne, Gilles was a labourer before enlisting on February 10, 1944.  On July 19, 1944 he arrived in the United Kingdom as a member of the Canadian Infantry Reserve Unit.  On August 12, 1944 he arrived in France and transferred to Le Regiment de Maisonneuve.

While serving with Le Regiment de Maisonneuve, he was severely wounded on March 8, 1945, and taken to a field hospital.  A day later, on March 9, 1945, he “…died of wounds…” received in action in Germany.  He was initially buried in Bedburg Military Cemetery before being reburied a year later in the Canadian Military Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Mariner Lost At Sea

William Arnold Johnston

William ‘Bill’ Johnston.  (Image courtesy of Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

Don Coutts wrote that “…I have been enjoying your articles.  My grandmother, Annie Bagnall Muttart, came from a large family, a total of nine boys and girls.  One of her brothers was Andrew Bagnall.  Andrew and his wife, Gussie, had four children: Kay, Eleanor, Ted, and Dick.

Kay married William (Bill) Arnold JOHNSTON on June 16th, 1940. He was a Lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Navy. His ship, the HMS Itchen, was torpedoed … and he lost his life. 

The Bagnall Family encountered two deaths of young men (Elmer in October 1941, and Bill in September 1943) during WWII….”  Don’s uncle, Elmer Bagnall MUTTART, has been previously featured on this blog.  (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2017/07/28/the-elmer-bagnall-muttart-story/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71Rzg07kPw0&list=PLaJcEVojJra-ZwR6rvb-THj8Zr2QbUXLT&index=2)

Born November 25, 1918 in Moncton, New Brunswick, Bill was the son of Frank Ariel and Eudaviela Waters Johnston, of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.  On May 17, 1937 he enlisted in the Militia in Charlottetown, and remained a member over the next few years, while employed as a teller at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Charlottetown.  On June 17, 1940, a day after his marriage, he was enlisted in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve.

On December 13, 1941 he was appointed to serve aboard HMCS Charlottetown.  Unfortunately, the ship was torpedoed and sunk on September 11, 1942 in the St. Lawrence River along the northern shore of Gaspé Peninsula, while returning to base from convoy duty.  Bill was one of the survivors.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMCS_Charlottetown_(1941)#Sinking)

After a stint of survivor’s duty at HMCS Stadacona in Halifax and short training courses, he was assigned to HMS Itchen on April 19, 1943, which was involved in anti-submarine warfare exercises off the coast of Scotland until September 1943, when it was assigned to convoy escort duty. 

While in the Atlantic Ocean, several ships in the convoy were attacked, beginning on September 19, 1943.  On September 20, HMCS St Croix was sunk.  81 survivors were picked up by HMS Itchen. 

HMS Itchen (K227)

Red dot shows location of sinking of HMS Itchen.  (Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Itchen_(K227))

Just after 2 am on September 23, 1943, HMS Itchen was torpedoed, causing the frigate to blow up, with a loss of 230 lives, including Bill. He was 24 years old.

Two people from HMS Itchen and one from HMCS St Croix survived and were picked up by a Polish steamer. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Itchen_(K227) and https://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ship/3079.html)

Don Coutts noted that “…Kay and Bill had a son Tom who was born on March 18, 1943. Tom died a number of years ago. Kay married a Bob Mills from Nova Scotia…they split their time between Port Royal, NS (late Fall/Winter/early Spring) and Stanhope, PEI (late Spring/Summer/early Fall)...”

As his body was never recovered, Bill’s name is listed on the Halifax Memorial in Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

To read previous stories about other mariners listed on the Halifax Memorial, please see:

Thank you to Jan Braakman, Don Coutts, Armel ‘Mel’ Lanteigne, and Edmonde Lanteigne for sharing photos and anecdotes to ensure that Atlantic Canadians who are buried overseas are not forgotten.

More photos and stories in Atlantic Canada Remembers – Part 11! To share photos or information, please email Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1

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Missed the previous postings in the Atlantic Canada Remembers series? See:

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