Carol Dron has a lot of fond memories of her father. Before he died she was able to capture some of his Second World War memories in a special way.
Carol’s father Arthur (Art) George William Beale served in the Canadian Navy during the Second World War and passed away Dec. 22, 2007 at the age of 90.
Carol made a special album for and with her father, after he moved to the Wascana Veteran’s Hospital in Regina near the end of his life.
“He really was a sailor and took a lot of pride in being a veteran,” Carol says. “He came home for visits but was always happy to go back to the hospital because he considered it his home. As a vet he had a sense of ownership, so that was nice for him to come out of it never feeling sorry for himself. “
Carol says her father loved sharing the album with his friends at the hospital and his visitors.
“The stroke affected his speech, but not his memory and he got a chuckle working on the album with me,” Carol says. “He just thought it was the greatest and I had a lot of fun doing it and seeing the enjoyment he got out of it.”
The album is filled with pictures either Art took himself during the war and those he collected from military photographers.
One of the pictures Art took himself was of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who was visiting their ship.
Carol tried as much as possible to incorporate the hand-written notes that were in Art’s original album along with the pictures, and other items she collected such as the banner from his hat, pay records, training records, newspaper clippings, and mementos such as Christmas cards signed by navy friends, post cards from various ports visited, stamps, special dinner menus.
A life long resident of Regina, Saskatchewan, Art, worked for General Motors and was a member of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve just prior to the Second World War. He saw active duty from 1939 to 1945 in the North Atlantic serving on the navy ship Pictou.
He took a brief leave in February 1944 to marry his sweetheart, Anna Delores Taylor. Ironically, Carol says her mother and father both grew up in Regina but didn’t meet until his ship stopped in Halifax at the beginning of the war where Anna’s family was living at the time.
“My grandmother was a heck of a cook and had four girls who attracted the boys, who would go to their place for meals,” Carol says.
After Art’s ship left Halifax for active service overseas, Carol says her father called her mother from New York and told her that as soon as he got home they would be married.
During the war, Carol says her father served as a gunner on the Pictou. He landed on the hospital ship at Christmas time in 1944 when the ammunition he was piling up exploded.
“My dad lost two fingers on his left hand in the explosion but fortunately he had just stood up, otherwise he might have died,” Carol says.
After the war Art and Delores made their home in Regina where Art worked in mail services for the Saskatchewan government for 32 years before retiring in 1977.
He was a keen football player both before and after the war and played with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1946 and 47.
Carol says her father lived the last 50 years of his life with the effects of a stroke, which primarily affected his ability to speak, but didn’t affect his ability to enjoy life.
“Dad never complained about anything,” Carol says. “He was quite the guy.”
While Art was living in the veteran’s hospital, Carol says she and her daughter, Nancy, decided to get tattoos, but were apprehensive about showing them to Art.
When they did finally show him their tattoos, she says he wasn’t angry, he was jealous because he had always wanted a tattoo but never got one.
She says he told them the story about how he and a few friends had gone to get tattoos while they were on shore leave in Hawaii but the artist wouldn’t tattoo them because they were too drunk.
Carol and her husband Perry moved from Saskatchewan to Williams Lake two years ago to be close to their daughter, Nancy, and her family.
Before moving to Williams Lake, Carol and Perry owned a coffee shop and a scrapbooking company in La Ronge, Sask.