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.


There was an air of anticipation.  Something exciting and adventurous was about to take place in their lives.  These young men had strange new feelings coursing through their veins.  One moment they were busy with longing thoughts of home, already it was - of Canada.  The next moment the feeling changed to anticipatory tingling, an anxiousness to get moving.  This is live, this is adventure, this is life - or death.  To be part of the big adventure was enough to make an eye wander over the horizon dreaming as many different thoughts as there were many different young men.  The new Army Chaplain’s thoughts were not too far off from the rest of his lads.  His thoughts too were more of the adventure than of the War peril.  For a farm boy who had never heard a train whistle until he took the train to Assumption College, Windsor 1916 at fourteen years of age, he could understand and enjoy the adventure and romance that a Regiment of one thousand young men of around twenty years were holding close to their hearts under their spanking new service jackets, and it gave them something to write home about.

Even the married soldiers, although more lonesome, bravely recorded glowing words of optimism, that their arrival would end war, as 2nd, Canadian Division was the only fully equipped Division that could travel on wheels in England.  England had more soldiers but their equipment was at Dunkirk, France.

No sub-marines appeared enroute but they were there.  Father said, “We were too green then to realize the danger we were in.”  German sub-marines did some good.  There was a good attendance at daily Mass on deck.  At one Sunday Mass he noticed Private Dave Croll ex-Mayor of Windsor a Jew who is now a Canadian Senator.  The battle of the Atlantic was almost lost later as ships were going down faster than the ship yards of Allies could replace them.

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