Canada in the Second World War


Ralph Charles Spencer

On June 6th, 1944, Ralph Charles Spencer landed in Normandy and distinguished himself in an act of bravery by rescuing six comrades.

Ralph Charles Spencer was born in the small Irish coal mining community of Londonderry, Nova Scotia. The Spencer family is noted for their careers in the Canadian Military. Ralph’s father, Ralph Emmerson Spencer (1891- 1974) joined the 85th Battalion in the First World War, and fought at Vimy Ridge, as did his brother Percy Spencer. Percy unfortunately died of his wounds near the border of Belgium. Ralph enlisted in the Army as a Royal Canadian Engineer, in Halifax on June 1st, to serve as a Sapper (engineer) 1940. Ralph’s younger brother Ross enlisted in the Navy.

On June 6th, 1944, Ralph Spencer landed on the shores of Normandy. As soon as he left the landing craft he was wounded in the left leg and knee by machine gun fire. Despite his wounds and under heavy fire Ralph managed to drag 6 wounded men out of the water and into safety. For this act of bravery, he was awarded the Military Medal. He received the medal at Buckingham Palace on October 17th, 1944.

During a leave in England, Ralph met Myrtle White, while ice skating during his leave. They married November 11th, 1946 and had two children, a daughter, Sheila and a son, Robert. Ralph continued his career as a soldier and instructor in the Royal Canadian Engineers. He instructed recruits on exploding devices, mine warfare, fire arms and fast bridges. Due to his injuries from the Second World War, Sergeant-Major Spencer took early retirement on September 4th, 1971 and settled in Chilliwack, British Columbia. He continued his hobbies of collecting Military Medals, war memorabilia, and drawing cartoons.

Ralph Charles Spencer died on May 4th, 1991.

Source: Spencer family