Canada in the Second World War


Jim Bardsley

Harry Bardsley was born on 18th June 1918, at St Catharines (Ontario) Canada, the youngest of seven children. From his earliest years, he draws and paints but without any parental encouragement. He was educated at the St Catharines Collegiate Institute.

In 1940 he did his basic Army Training in North Bay, Canada, before joining the Army Medical Corps, 15th Canadian Field Ambulance. He arrived in Glasgow early 1942 and was sent to Forest Row, Sussex where he and his comrades were trained for D-Day.

Harry Bardsley (called Jim by all) landed in Normandy in July 1944 at Courseulles-sur-Mer. He fought his way through to Holland until Victory. His duty consisted in giving primary medical aid to the wounded brought in by stretcher bearers.

On May 8th 1945, VE-Day, Jim was based in Vught, Holland. He made sketches representing the celebration of Victory, rejoicing crowds after years of sufferance and deprivation.

After demobilisation, Jim obtained a grant to study Arts in London and with Osip Zadkine in Paris. Marrying in 1949, he founded a family who followed him in 1960 to Scotland. There, according to the educational methods of Dr. Rudolf Steiner, he founded a small residential school for disadvantaged inner city children. For 21 years, with his wife, he welcomed over one hundred children with a painful family story.

After closing the school in 1982, he devoted himself to his garden and he continued being artistically productive, painting family, friends and local landscapes. Persuaded no one would be interested in his paintings and drawings, it is only in 2000, that friends managed to convince him to exhibit his work. After much insistence, he finally accepted. Starting to prepare for this occasion and for the first time after more than 50 years of marriage, Jim showed his wife the sketches made between during the war. He also undertook to make a large oil painting, using the 1945 sketches of the VE-Day celebrations in Vught, Holland. Unfortunately, due to his declining health, the painting was never finished.

In 2003, at 85 years of age, Jim’s long overdue first exhibition took place in Kirkcudbright, Scotland, and the sketches which chronicle his wartime service were shown to the public for the first time.

Jim Bardsley passed away on March, 16th 2004. In April 2005, his wife Elisabeth donated 48 war time sketches to the Juno Beach Centre along with his last unfinished painting.