- Vermilion Voice
Westman’s - WWII
WWII Veteran, Walden Westman, who worked in a munitions plant in Ontario before moving to Vermilion after the war. Photo submitted
Myrtle and Robert Philip Westman had 12 children including eight boys, seven of whom enlisted in WWII. When Robert Phillips passed away in 1931, Myrtle remarried the widowed Frank Davies in 1938, relocating to the Dewberry/Vermilion area. Their children, Ernest and George Davies, also enlisted. A total of nine children in the family enlisted in WWII. Cpl. Cornelius (Slim) Westman was an Air Force ground crew personnel in Newfoundland; Cpl. James (Jim) went overseas with the army; and Jesse Rowland stayed on the farm with his mother and sisters Pearl Taylor (nee) Westman, Kay Hemmingway (nee) Westman, Thelma Hunter (nee) Westman, and Phyllis Webb (nee) Westman. Flt. Sgt. Robert Morris (Bob) was a pilot overseas, Cpl. George, Cpl. Fredrick William (Bill), Pte. John Edward (Jack) went overseas with the army, and Pte. Walden served in Canada. Step-brothers Tpr. Ernest Davies and Tpr. George Davies also served overseas. In 1942, four of the brothers (Bill, Jim, George, and Bob) were able to meet mid-war for a Christmas get together in England.
Back row from left, Brothers Fredrick William (Bill) Westman, and James (Jim) Westman.Front row from left, George Westman, and Robert Morris (Bob) Westman during a Christmas celebration in England 1942. Photo supplied
The following April, tragedy struck the family. According to nephew Norman Westman, Flt. Sgt. Robert Morris (Bob) Westman’s plane was shot down over the Mediterranean Sea.
Photo of Robert Morris Westman during WWII; he was the only brother to not return home. Photo credit: http://www.veterans.gc.ca.
“He was getting ready to be on leave and while making his last load - they never saw him again. After the war, I remember all of these young uncles coming home,” said Norman Westman. According to http://www.wikisicily.com, Robert Morris (Bob) Westman was a Warrant Officer Class II who served with the 458 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force until his death on April 29, 1943. He was the husband of Doris Mary Westman, and is remembered with honour at the Agira War Cememtery in Sicily.
Rod Hunter by his Uncle’s grave, Flt. Sgt Robert Morris Westman at Agira War Cememtery in Sicily. Photo submitted
They note that he joined the Air Force in Vancouver in May of 1941, then trained at Moose Jaw, Regina, Virden, and graduated in Dauphin in December of 1941. He then went overseas in February, 1942 training further in England, and spending a few months on Bomber Command in Northern Ireland. He then went on to serve in Gibraltar, Egypt, and Malta. Robert Morris (Bob) Westman is commemorated on page 225 of the ‘Second World War Book of Remembrance’. According to Norman Westman, due to a past mining job, there is also a ‘Mount Westman’ named after Robert Morris (Bob) in the Yukon. Vermilion’s Dorothy Westman is the last remaining spouse of this generation of Westman boys, and met Walden after the war had ended. According to Dorothy, Walden may have enlisted before he was 18 years old. He took his training in Ontario, and worked in a munitions plant but never got overseas because the war had ended.