“Some Came Back, Others Did Not”

The Juno Beach Centre has received a donation which is a perfect illustration of this quote, which is also the name of one of the rooms of the Juno Beach Centre.

The Juno Beach Centre is honoured to have received donations of military medals and memorabilia which belonged to two brothers, Gerald and Kenneth Willigar, who both landed in Normandy. Kenneth Willigar Junior made a special trip to the museum to make this donation on behalf of his family and on behalf of Joan Coffill, Gerald Willigar’s daughter.

The medals and the stories of the two brothers will soon be on display in the medal cabinet of the room “Some Came Back, Others Did Not”.

“My father never wanted to come back to Normandy and so he never saw his brother’s grave. My cousin Joan never knew her father. I came here 25 years ago and I come back today with my sister’s husband in order to make this donation to the Juno Beach Centre. It is the best thing to do for the memory of my father and my uncle.”

Kenneth Willigar Jr

Gerald R. S. Willigar was born in Economy, Nova Scotia, Canada, on December 4, 1919. He enlisted in the army on June 19, 1940. That same year he married Hazel V. Tibbetts of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. Gerald Willigar was stationed in England with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders in July 1941, just two months after the birth of his daughter, Joan. During three years in England, he trained as a Bren Gun Carrier driver and mechanic. He landed in Normandy late in the day on June 6, 1944. On the afternoon of June 7, Gerald Willigar was killed in action, just outside Caen, on a mission to give covering fire to his comrades. Gerald is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery at Bény-sur-Mer.

His medals have been donated in his loving memory by his daughter, Joan Coffill.

Kenneth R. Willigar was born in Economy, Nova Scotia, Canada, on April 14, 1922. He enlisted in 1942 in the North Nova Scotia Highlanders. While stationed in Scotland, he met his future wife, Evelyn H.D. Jenkins. He landed in Normandy, on June 7, only to discover that his beloved brother, Gerald, also a member of the North Novas, had been killed earlier that day. After this shocking beginning, Ken went on to see active service in France, Belgium, Holland and finally, Germany. Following the war, he returned to Scotland and married Evelyn Jenkins. After the birth of the first of their four children, he moved his family to Nova Scotia and then to Ontario, where they raised their children (Geraldine, Wayne, Susan and Kenneth Jr). He passed away from April 2, 1996.

His medals and military memorabilia have been donated by his loving family.



Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at jbca@junobeach.org.

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