Ken Curry is the last living veteran of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry and the ill-fated Canadian contingent that raided the beaches of Dieppe. He is 96 years old and lives in Sidney, BC.
In a few days we will be honouring our veterans on Remembrance Day. I stood in the house and spoke to the sacrifice they make on all our behalf
Ken Curry is 96. He lives in Sidney now, but in 1937, he was a 15-year-old kid growing up in Stoney Creek, Ontario. That was when he joined the reserves with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Regiment. Ken was 17 when the Second World War broke out. Because of his age, he had to get the blessing of his mother to sign up for active duty. It took some convincing, but she finally relented.
On August 19, 1942, Curry was on a ship on his way to Dieppe. As we all know, Dieppe was a disaster. Out of the 6,000 men, mostly Canadians, who raided that French beach, over half of the men and boys either died or were imprisoned. Dieppe was Canada’s costliest day of the Second World War.
It was really, just, hell! – Ken Curry
I’ve had the honour of hearing Ken personally recount the stories of the time that he spent on that beach — the rain of bullets, the pounding of mortar shells. As he describes it, it was really just hell. The water was red with blood of dead and dying Canadians.
Under an evacuation order, he boarded a boat that was immediately hit, so he had to abandon ship as it started to sink. He swam underwater, aiming for some cliffs, hoping to reach the French lines. He was greeted by the enemy.
Ken spent the next three years of his life as a prisoner of war in Germany, routinely beaten, manacled, malnourished and interrogated. It was a long and challenging testament to Ken’s endurance. At the end of the war, tired, hungry and his knee joints destroyed from being marched over 1,000 miles by the Germans, Curry was eventually released by Canada’s advancing allies.
Despite his disastrous day in Dieppe and as a prisoner of war, Ken Curry stayed with the military, eventually retiring as a major. Ken has lived in the town of Sidney for the past 20 years. He is now the only remaining member of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry that took part in that raid on Dieppe.
Today I stand in honour of the courage, the sacrifice, the horrific and haunting memories that Ken Curry has carried on behalf of all of us. As we go home to our communities to solemnly honour Ken and those that were not so lucky at Remembrance Day ceremonies around our province, I say to Ken and to all those who served and serve our country: I am humbled by you. Thank you. HÍSW̱ḴE SIÁM.