SASKATOON – Second World War veteran John Newcombe has attended so many Remembrance Day ceremonies at Caswell Community School, it’s difficult to keep track. Like he does every November, the 95-year-old former radar technician walked from his home nearby, to the kindergarten to Grade 8 school.
Before sitting down for the ceremony, he gave a short lesson in history, aviation and the harsh realities of war.
“My family had lost my brother. He hadn’t come back [from the war]. He’s buried in Sicily,” Newcombe said.
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His brother had completed 28 operations as a wireless air gunner and only had two remaining when he died.
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Every visit to Caswell School is a return to his old stomping grounds. Newcombe attended the school in the 1920s, followed by Bedford Road Collegiate.
In addition to his brother, two of Newcombe’s high school friends died overseas.
“You remember friends. Yes, I remember lots of friends,” Newcombe told a class of students in Grades 3 and 4.
During a question and answer period, students looked for answers ranging from the type of hats Newcombe wore, to the root causes of the conflict.
“Remembrance Day means, to me, peace and love and remembering the soldiers who fought for us in war and that passed on,” said Kal-Leigh Shepherd, one of the students in attendance.
Schools across the division held ceremonies Tuesday. There are no classes on Remembrance Day for Saskatoon Public Schools.