Joseph Duval (Joseph Sylva Emile)
Born January 19, 1924 in Danielson, Connecticut (USA)
Son of Gaspard Duval and Émilia Deschênes
Married to Aline Lavoie on June 28, 1952
Father of Michèle, Sylvie, Guy, and Lise
The ancestors of Joseph Duval, originally from Rouen, Normandy, supposedly emigrated to Canada around 1608. Even if Joseph Duval’s Norman origins have not been studied and precisely identified, the strong oral history of the family has the ancestors coming from Rouen.
Joseph Duval, the son of a farmer, was raised in a large family of 15 children. He remained in primary school until the fifth grade. He then took courses in forestry and wood measurement.
Final rank: Private
Joseph Duval enlisted as a private in February, 1943 at Longueuil, Quebec, with the Régiment de Maisonneuve. Sent to England in March, 1944, he arrived in France on July 10, 1944. He took part in the battle for Caen. He remembers that it took a month to take the city which was ferociously defended by German forces. He took part in the attack on Falaise, where the fighting resulted in the encirclement of 175,000 German troops and cutting off their supplies. On September 8th, towards 8 o’clock at night, he was wounded in the arm by machine gun bullets at Bourgbourg in Pas-de-Calais, near the Belgian border. He returned to Canada on November 29, 1944, and was treated at the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Hospital and later at the Queen Mary Hospital in Montréal. He underwent 14 operations before being demobilized during the summer of 1946.
Medals and Decorations
Canadian Volunteer Service Medal
War Medal (1939-45)
After the War
After the war, Joseph Duval worked for 37 years as a heavy machinery operator, mainly in the construction of highways and airports.
In 2007, as he was portrayed in the exhibition “There and Back” at the Juno Beach Centre, Joseph Duval declared:
‘’I was happy to have left to defend Europe, but even happier to have returned in good health. Without skills, without work, without money, and being from a large family of 15 children, I enlisted. From what I experienced, I gained the realization of the importance of defending my heritage, which is from France. I am happy to still be alive to tell it, and especially proud of what was accomplished by a simple soldier.