I don’t come from a “military family”, but I have always been interested and intrigued by all things military. So, when one of our most iconic military figures passed away last month, I thought it was important to remind people of his contributions to Canada, including his eighty-one years of service to the Canadian Armed Forces!
David Lloyd Hart enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1937. He was deployed to England and France during WWII. In 1942, he found himself in the middle of the chaos in the battle at the German-occupied port of Dieppe. It was here that Hart made his greatest contribution and showed leadership and calm in the middle of the madness all around him. Hart was a communications operator and discipline was very strict when it came to using the radio. He asked headquarters to let him go off the air so that he could go onto a different radio frequency to give his fellow soldiers the command to retreat. He was told no by headquarters because he was their only means of communications. He convinced them to give him only two minutes off-air. He was able to talk to two units, giving them the order withdraw and he was back on the air in a mere 30 seconds. In those short few seconds, he saved the lives of over a hundred troops in two units – the South Saskatchewan Regiment and the Camerons of Winnipeg. Hart was awarded the British Military Medal by King George VI for his act of bravery and calm.
After the war, he joined the 34th Signal Regiment, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel before retiring from active duty in 1965. He served as Honorary Colonel in the Canadian Army until his death. Hart was the last surviving member of the regiment he had served with at Dieppe. At the age of 101 when he passed, he had served our country for eight-one years. He spent his entire adult life serving Canada. He was a mentor to many young soldiers and was always quick to encourage young people who were considering joining the army.
He often took part in military events in Montreal, where he lived. In his 100th year, he and his wife travelled to Dieppe and walked down the same beach where he had saved so many lives some seventy-five years before. I can only imagine the emotions he felt that day when he looked back at the events that made him a hero and no doubt changed the course of his life.
I think it’s important that we remember our heroes and acknowledge their contributions to our country. We enjoy so many freedoms as Canadians – in no small part, because of heroes like Honourary Colonel David Lloyd Hart.