Uncles meet during Second World War

Brothers from Manitoba cross paths in Belgium while serving with the Canadian Army

I am writing this story to tell the world about two young men who served in the Canadian Army from 1942-1946:

• Frederick William Manns, who enrolled in the Army in Winnipeg, Man., on Nov. 20, 1942. He was awarded the 1939-45 Star, the France and Germany Star, Defense Medal and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp upon discharge; and

• Charles Allen Manns, who enrolled in the Army in Winnipeg on Nov. 11, 1943. He was awarded the France and Germany Star, and the Canadian volunteer Service Medal and Clasp upon discharge.

Fred and Charlie joined the Canadian Army to fight in the Second World War. That in itself was not unusual at that time because many young men joined the forces, accepting the challenges they were given. They served in Canada (basic training), the United Kingdom, Holland, France, Germany and Belgium. Fred was classified as a trooper and was assigned to a regular division. What is unusual is that they joined the Canadian Army at different times and were then in different divisions, and somehow their paths crossed.

What makes this an amazing story is that the two brothers met by sheer accident when they were both stationed in Holland. Charlie’s unit was walking down the road to reach their new camp. A tanker unit came down the road, passing the line of foot soldiers. Charlie saw a tank coming with the top up and a soldier standing looking at the walking soldiers. When the tank got closer, Fred and Charlie realized who they were looking at. They hollered each other’s name and waved. Both stayed with their unit. Charlie said he knew the tank couldn’t stop then. And he didn’t know if he would get to see or talk to Fred. It was hours later that Fred came and found him. When Fred and a buddy of his drove up in a truck, both brothers ran toward each other, laughing and crying.

Fred and Charlie spent two-and-a-half hours together. Charlie said they didn’t go inside a building, but instead stayed outside talking to each other about anything and everything. Fred and his companion then got back inside the truck and went back to their camp. The brothers never saw each other again until 1946 when they were both discharged from the Army and back in Canada.

How did it happen two brothers would meet a world away from home during a war? Neither knew where the other was stationed and hadn’t heard anything for a while. I am sure it is one of many miracles that occurred during the war to help soldiers through difficult times.

Fred and Charlie Manns are the brothers of Creston resident Anna Mack and are also the uncles of Sherry Joubert and Wayne Wysoski of Clearwater.

Our cousin Geri Raines of Nanaimo B.C wrote the original article. Since this article was published Uncle Fred has passed away. Uncle Charlie lives in a retirement home in Grandview, Man.

– By Geri Raines