He lied about age to enlist in army

FROM our November 2012 issue

By Yvette Desnoyers Hayes – Fruitvale, B.C.

My father, Eugene Desnoyers, was born Sept. 2, 1898. He lied about his age so he could get into the Canadian army. At 17, he could easily pass as an 18-year-old because a life working on the farm at Coderre, Sask., put him in great physical shape.

He took his basic training in Regina and eventually found himself in France, fighting very near the town of Chambray. Fortunately he spoke both French and English. Unfortunately, he was wounded when an enemy bullet struck him in the neck.

The bullet was somewhat deflected when it hit a bead on the rosary worn around his neck before exiting on the opposite side.
Medics found him and performed the necessary first aid. He spent some time in a field hospital and eventually made a complete recovery. The broken rosary was recovered, repaired, and is now in my possession.

As soon as the war ended, dad was sent back to Canada on a troop ship, arriving in Montreal then on to the army base at St. Hyacinthe. He was there for just a few short weeks but it was long enough to become smitten with a certain Marieanna Brouder. It was love at first sight!

Dad’s discharge papers came through and he had to return to Coderre leaving Marieanna behind. He set about amassing sufficient funds to purchase an engagement ring. His most pressing problem was how he could present it to the lovely Marieanna. Canada Post came to the rescue and the small box was sent all the way to Quebec.

Letters followed and Marieanna accepted his proposal. Little did she know what life would bring in Coderre, Sask. Marieeanna’s father wanted the best for his daughter. Furniture from Eaton’s catalogue would not do. A box car was filled with fine furniture, linens, dishes, and cutlery – all made in Quebec.

Several years’ supply of maple syrup and her father accompanied her to Saskatchewan. Marriage followed and happiness reigned.

Farming proved profitable despite the fact that water was in short supply and plumbing and electricity were non-existent. They had four children and together they cared for the chickens, pigs, cattle, and horses. A big garden fed them all, however, drought and grasshoppers eventually necessitated a move to Weyburn and a paying job.

He was a good father and an exemplary citizen. He was a lifetime member of the Royal Canadian Legion and would never miss a Nov. 11 service and the chance to remember comrades who were not as fortunate. Dad died in 1979.

Eugene Desnoyers, 1898 – 1979.