Thursday, November 12, 2009

Remembering the man in the photograph

My own remembrance yesterday was for a man I never met, as it has been for all past Remembrance Days in my life.

I have always felt I knew Captain Grover Dennis R.C.I.C., my uncle, although he had shipped overseas 11 months before I arrived on this earth just in time for Christmas, 1942.

Queen's University class of '39, football player, champion high jumper, life of the party, Canadian Officers' Training Corps, commando training, movie star handsome, he was quite a catch for his true love, Doris Chadwick, the stylish redhead from Toronto.

In other times, there would have been a life of laughter and friends and careers and children and pets and spats and making up. But these were different times.

Their wedding was followed by a whirlwind honeymoon before he shipped out for Sicily with the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, en route to Italy.

She never saw him again.

On December 9, 1943, he was seriously wounded. He died on January 23, 1944. He is buried in the Bari War Cemetery, south of Taranto, Italy.

I grew up with photographs of Grover in his "leatherhead" football gear, and lounging around with his friends at picnics, and in his officer's uniform. I know him as the young man in those photographs. A mythical figure. A loveable, larger-than-life guy who, according to family lore, excelled at whatever he tried.

A few weeks ago, our family came together to celebrate Doris' 95th birthday. She's doing pretty well. She has the photographs.

Update: Thanks to Doug Vallery (see his comment below), I have received a great deal of information about Grover that was previously unknown to me. Doug and Jacqui co-authored this article in the Queen's University Alumni Review.

1 comment:

  1. Doug - I posted this article about my father's wartime friendship with Grover Dennis in the Queen's Alumni Review (online edition). Is Doris still alive?

    I am sorry I didn't see your blog earlier.

    Best wishes

    Doug Vallery
    416 843-2226 (cell)