Canada in the Second World War


Will R. Bird

Will Bird, 25 years old in 1916.

Will R. Bird was born in 1891 in East Mapleton, Nova Scotia. After losing his brother Stephen Carmen Bird to a German mine  explosion in October 1915, he enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1916. He saw action at Vimy, Passchendaele, Amiens, Arras and Cambrai. After returning home, Will raised his family in Nova Scotia. He named his only son Stephen Stanley Bird, in honour of his brother killed in action. In 1930, he published a memoir about his wartime experiences entitled And We Go On (later reprinted as Ghosts Have Warm Hands).
When the Second World War began, his son Stephen rushed to enlist. Will believed his writings about the war served as a motivation for Stephen’s decision. Stephen Stanley Bird served with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and was selected to be one of 34 officers to lead the regiment onshore at Juno Beach on 6 June 1944. Stephen survived the D-Day invasions, but was killed during the Canadian battle for Caen, on 8 July 1944. Losing his only son caused Will grief, which showed in his novels and writing. Will Bird passed away in 1984, 40 years after his son.

“Within twenty years, the first World war veterans will have gone to their last rolll call and can bury forever everything regarding the great war. It will then be of no interest to the existing generations.” Will bird, 1933

Will Bird, 1950

Stephen Bird, 24 years in 1944, is buried at the Canadian military cemetery of Bény-Reviers.