The over night trip on the train down to Aldershot Military Barracks initiated the young men to reality. The new Padre got under the seat to try and sleep on the dirty, cold floor but of course he couldn’t and wound up depressed and tired, with the rest of his lads as they marched with full packs from the train the next morning. One bright spot is remembered. The preschool children cheered them up along the road by saying: “Look at the Soldiers!” A wee tot gave them a second look and said “Dem ain’t soldiers - dem’s Canadian.” All in all the Canadian were accepted gratefully as saviours of the brave little fortress Isle.
In 1939, at the outbreak of WWII and seven years after having been ordained to the priesthood, Rev. Michael Joseph Dalton (May 5, 1902 - April 6, 2009) volunteered to join the Essex Scottish Regiment of the Canadian Army.
Although he could have avoided front line service due to his age and position, he insisted that it was his duty to serve. Father Mike saw active duty in England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.
Father Mike was known to work on the front lines of military combat and often marched with his men, carrying their weapons when they grew fatigued. He was known to drive his jeep, often against orders, to the front lines of combat in order to hear confessions
Saying Mass until his death - just one month shy of his 107th birthday - Father Mike was believed to have been the oldest Catholic priest in Canada and Canada's oldest surviving serviceman from World War II. Father Mike kept a war diary documenting his service during the years 1939-1946. In 1979 he donated it to the National Archives of Canada.
Please join me as I transcribe his writings online.