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.

March 1, 1942

Mass in vestry of Anglican Church for Essex Scottish.  Sweet strains of pipe organ at Protestant service assists our devotion.

Second Mass at St. Thomas Church - St. Leonards, for rally of all Catholics RHLI.  Two priests hear confessions during Mass.  Sermon on Prodigal son bears fruit.  RCAF also attend.  Tea and cakes served by ladies.  Dinner in men’s kitchen.  RHLI after giving smokes to Transport Section.

Benediction at “Chapel of Ease” - March comes in like a lamb - Weather mild - No bombs; no runs, no hits, no errors.

Canadian mail and parcels arrive today.

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