Warstories - (letter)
Mr Crawford - WWII Veteran
Liberator of the Netherlands

 “…Regimental new briefly, but not completely : A Sqdn lost two others at Veen – Lyle Evans and Dough S. Harper.  “B.” lost three just beyond the Hochwald.  Then we came out for a fortnight redress in Tilburg and back to an arty role from Cleve to hammer Emmerich.  Tony Devreker, M.M. lost his life there in an accident.  I left them there to go on U.K. leave and returned two weeks later to find that Lorensen, Recce Tp ; lieut. George Johnston – tall, dark chap and Tpr. Wickstrom had been killed on the way north through Holland.  Up here we have lost tow other Recce Tp men, Carr and Owen and two troopers –L.Lcraig of Baker Sq and L V Carpenter of Charlie. I hope that is the last.  There have been quite a few wounded between mines, snipers, etc.  Major Purdy broke foot bones, his driver smashed a leg when their scout car struck a mine. Lee Caseley struck mines two days in succession without a scratch.  Is on way back to CACRU for instruction.  Danny McLeod is in 2 CGH where I saw him and Bodley this week.  Bodley has internal trouble which has kept him in bed since early March.  Danny is a mine victim – one ear out for good, the other drum punctured temporarily – otherwise O.K.  Of Able Sqdn. men the worst were Spence who lost both his legs.  Is in England now and will come through O.K. and McLaughlin who went to England last week on the mend.  That’s all the gloom I can think of.    ……You may hear that there was considerable uncertainty regarding Kenny.  It is a complicated story and I nearly went out of my right senses over it (“Nuts” seems to be too vulgar a term for such a matter!)  the evidence was confusion and conflicting.  I found nothing in the tank but a heap of ashes so completely created that one could not tell whether he was one or (….) being very close together.  Among one part of them was his pistol and Dord Irving’s watch which Ken was carrying.  But three men were certain they had seen Ken out of the tank and it seemed reasonable that he should get out first so Bell could pass. The direction of the shot relative to the positions inside the tank suggested that Jake was killed outright.  So we reported Kenny missing believed P.O.W. – and were puzzled why the pistol and watch.  We based out decision on the statements of those who saw him out.  Then when I went to England I went soon to see Bell and learned that he had heard Kenny speaking to him from down under the gun breach as he, Bell, brushed past him to safety – minus a leg.  I knew that was where I had found the watch and pistol.  So I gave up my former conviction and with heavy heart went up to Records to change his “status” and start another cable on its way home.  Few matters have upset me so much as this and I have had to discuss it with other fellows scores of times.  I finally decided that


what probably happened was that he climbed out first, saw that his men were not getting out and jumped back to help them, being overcome by fumes.   He was that kind of a man – and I like to believed that is what happened.  Sgt. Herb. Roulston, who was one of those who saw him, lost a hand – by the way – at Tilburg when a grenade accidentally exploded.  He “took it” rather than imperil the lives of kiddies and other men standing near.  This must be all for now…”

Excerpts from a letter dated 7th of May 1945 from H/Capt. A Phillips-Silcox to Lt. R.E.Crawford updating him on events after he was released as a POW . More information available at : www.sarvaofcanada.ca. (with special thanks to Mr. Mike Crawford, Lt Crawford’s son)
Extra note :
The aforementioned article was found on

Upon request of permission for use of this article, the website’s webmaster, the son of the recipient of this letter, answered with the following…(excerpts from his letter)

Thanks for writing to me concerning the story on my website about my dad.  The letter from Padre Silcox to my father, Lt. Robert Earl Crawford, was written just after my dad's release as a POW.  I found the letter in my dad's personal effects after he died in 1988. 
Two years ago when I developed the website for the South Alberta Regiment I decided to do a few pages on the POW’s as they were largely forgotten in any of the histories of the Regiment.  On the POW pages (of the site)  there is a description of events of the evening they were captured by the Germans.  I have some knowledge of my dad’s experiences and had the opportunity of meeting with Jack Gardiner of Winnipeg, who was one of the men that was captured that day. I would be very honoured and pleased if you used the letter during your concert series and I am giving you permission to do so. Thank you for considering my dad's story. It means a lot to me and would have meant a great deal to him. The website was my way of honouring those men who fought during the War, specifically those with the South Alberta Regiment.  The other reason for doing the site was to remind people of the sacrifices they made.  Young people here in Canada are not aware of events as they should be.

  photo: June 24th, 2005
Edmonton AB

      Again thanks for requesting the use of the letter and again please feel free to use any materials on the site. If I can be of any help please do not hesitate to ask and when we meet I owe you a drink.
Yours sincerely,
Mike Crawford