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.

July 16, 1940

Embarking in broad daylight on the Empress of Austrailia (the ship that had brought the King and Queen of England to Canada in 1939) the new Chaplain and Company sailed out of Halifax harbour.  The Convoy of approximately fifty ships was well escorted by the huge battleship “Revenge”, and destroyers and cruisers, to guard against sub-marines.

Seated at the table that evening for dinner, Officers were optimistic and predited an early end to the War.  Farther Mike said later - “Majors J. Willis and L. Wakefield and Don McKenzie were at our table.  Each wrote the date of the end of the War on a wine bottle.  I don’t know who has the empty bottle.  Major John Willis was killed at Dieppe.”

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