Father’s first funeral Mass after ordination had been for his Mother: his first in Military uniform was for his Father. He spent the first cold winter in St. Luke’s Barracks with the Essex Scottish Regiment. “Catholic Women’s League of Rosary Parish often gave breakfast to our lads after Mass, to encourage Communion, when we marched to their Church”, he related. The ladies then volunteered to come to our Barracks to serve breakfast each Sunday. It was cheaper for them too. We drew from Army Rations for this.
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.