Benoît GONTHIER (Joseph Benoit)
Born April 29th, 1924 in Lauzon, Quebec
Son of Jean Gonthier and Delia Asselin
Married to Jeannine Guenet on June 16th, 1951
Father of Bernard, Sylvie, Jean (deceased), Marie, André and Isabelle
Known Norman origins
Paternal: His ancestor Jean Gonthier was born about 1618. In 1638, in the Saint-Séverin Church, Paris, he married Marie Lay, who was born about 1619. He arrived in the City of Quebec in 1666.
Maternal: Jacques Asselin was born in 1629 in Bracquemont, near Rouen, Normandy. He married Louise Roussin on July 29th 1662 in Quebec. Louise Roussin was born on March 11, 1642 in Tourouvre, Perche, Normandy. Jacques and Louise had twelve children. The oldest, Jacques, who was born on June 12, 1663, married Marie Morisette in l’lle-d’Orléans, Quebec on October 12, 1687. Marie Morisette was born on August 10, 1671.
Primary and secondary school student between 1930 and 1942, during the economic crisis.
Service Number: V-85991
Final rank: Leading Stoker
Enrolled as a Royal Canadian Navy volunteer in the City of Quebec in January 1943, Benoit Gonthier did his basic training in Hamilton, Ontario, before further training in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. He served on a mine-sweeper until April 1944 (convoy escort to mid-Atlantic), then on HMCS Greenock in Scotland (Manning Depot). Transferred to HMS Rosyth, he was subsequently attached to the 10th Flotilla for the D-Day landings, serving on a landing barge anchored at Portsmouth. He participated in 3 trips escorting troops from Portsmouth to Juno Beach on June 6 and 7, 1944. He returned to HMS Rosyth at the end of July 1944. He took courses related to the war with Japan, then returned to Halifax in 1944 for a month’s leave. Returning to Greenock he was assigned to HMS Crescent built for the Pacific Theatre. During training, he was wounded when his ship hit a mine at the entrance to the port at Jersey. He was discharged from service at Esquimalt, British Columbia in February 1946.
Medals and Decorations
Canadian Volunteer Service Medal
After the War
1948: Balistics course in Valcartier, Quebec
1948-1972: Valcartier, National Defence – ballistics
1972-1984: Nicolet, Quebec – Chief Test Director
In 2007, as he was portrayed in the exhibition “There and Back” at the Juno Beach Centre, Benoît Gonthier declared:
“Leaving Paris and Normandy in 1666, my ancestors came to Quebec – the new land founded by Champlain in 1608. Throughout the centuries their descendents chose many professions: lawyer, judge, farmer, carpenter, soldier, etc. Having grown up in Lauzon, close to the shipyards, I was attracted by the sea. At 19, instead of going to university I chose to serve my country by enrolling in the Canadian Navy. This profession resulted in my fighting the Germans in 1944, and participating in the liberation of Normandy, land of my forefathers.”