Lambton at War


The Second World War

John Cecil Gibb

John Cecil Gibb, known as Cecil Gibb was born in a red brick house that his father had built on the 12th line of Moore Township (later called LaSalle Road), not far from Burns Presbyterian Church.

Sometime in the 1930s, after going west on a harvesters’ excursion, my father ended up purchasing 160 acres of wooded land 15 miles north and east of Peace River, Alberta.   In the 10 years he spent on his Peace River “farm”, my father managed to clear 65 flat, fertile acres, but with the outbreak of war in 1939, it was inevitable that he would enlist.   He did so, with the 10th Company of the Royal Canadian Engineers in Calgary, Alberta in July, 1940.  He did training at Petawawa and was overseas by 1941.  He was the only member of his immediate family (two brothers, two sisters) to serve in the military.

During the Blitz, he was stationed at Brighton, England and later trained on schemes around England.  Many of the Canadian boys went to Scotland on their leaves.  Dundee, Scotland was my father’s favorite city in that country.   The Gibb family was originally Scottish but had come to Moore Township around the 1830s.  One thing my father appreciated about Scotland (and later Italy) was the chance to get fresh eggs and some homegrown vegetables.

Eventually, his company was sent to Italy, traveling in a convoy of troop carriers around the Gibraltar Straits and into the Mediterranean.  Two of the convoy’s ships were bombed by the enemy and sunk in the Mediterranean.  The captain of my father’s ship picked up as many survivors as he could — many of them nurses — which crowded his ship, but they reached Italy safely.  Many years later, my father learned that the captain of this ship had been court martialed for breaking the convoy and endangering his passengers in order to rescue the survivors.

During the 18 months he spent fighting in Italy, his only injury was a bite from a poisonous spider — which earned him three days back of the front lines.  During the period in Italy, when the German forces were being pushed back to Germany, many of his friends in the company were killed.

The engineers were sent back, by way of France, to be in on the final push in Germany in the spring of 1945.   Afterwards, he spent three months in Holland, taking a farm course, until Japan surrendered.   The he was shipped back to England and arrived back in Sarnia in September, 1945.

The Sarnia Observer featured a photo of him being met at the Sarnia train station by his mother and his one nephew.   Sadly, both his parents died within a year of his return to Canada.

My father and mother married in 1946 and my father did not return to his homestead in Peace River, Alberta except on two vacations.  The first was to show his homestead to his bride (she was not impressed) and later to his children.   He joined the Corunna Legion and would march in Legion events when his work at Polymer permitted.   He rarely talked to anyone except other veterans about his years in the army — except to comment on the food served to soldiers and the fact that he held no ill will towards the German soldiers, who were doing a job just like he was.

~ Story told by daughter Alice Gibb, London.

John Thomas Williams

Luke: obituary and picture in file

John Thomas Williams, P. Eng. died peacefully on Tuesday, April 25th, 2006 at age 91, having lived a good and full life.   Predeceased by his soal mate and wife of 55 years, Inez, good friend Beth Haskett, and cherished daughter, Lynn.   Fondly remembered by son Eric Williams and his wife Anne; daughter Debbie Barrett and her husband, Bill; sister-in-law Hazel Williams; son-in-law Art Allen; grandchildren Denise Allen and Glen Martins, Julie and Michael Blair, Shayne Williams, Chad Williams and a treasured great-grandchild Leah-Lynn Blair.   A graduate of Queen’s, John volunteered and served from 1939 to 1945 in the Royal Canadian Engineers in England and France and later commanded a reserve regiment based in London.  A long-time employee of Imperial Oil in Sarnia.  John’s special engineering achievement was the construction of Cat Crackers in Sarnia, Bombay, Buenos Aires, and Vancouver.   Most importantly John loved his family, his cottage at Berford Lake, and fishing.   Special thanks to the staff at Longworth who enjoyed his humour and offered kindness and respect.  A memorial service will be held at the Westview Funeral Chapel, 709 Wonderful Road North, on Thursday, April 27th, 2006 at 1:00 p.m.   Cremation with interment of ashes in St. James Cemetery, Clandeboye.   Donations in John’s memory may be made to the Lynn Allen Memorial Fund at the University of Western Ontario.

~ Submitted by Alice Gibb, London