British Columbia

Fallen WW II vet's family connects with RCA comrade thanks to Oak Bay students

Thank you cards left at a Second World War grave in France by Victoria students have led to a remarkable connection between two families.

Louise Barber finally has answers after close to 50 years of searching for information about her veteran uncle

Roy Pattinson joined the 3rd Medium Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery in 1939 when he was 20 years old and was killed in battle on July 29, 1944. (Louise Barber)

Thank you cards left at a Second World War grave in France by Victoria students have led to a remarkable connection between two families.

In April, students from Oak Bay High School went to Europe for the 100th Vimy Ridge anniversary. They visited the grave sites of just two fallen soldiers from the First and Second World wars from Oak Bay.

Louise Barber's uncle, Roy Pattinson, was one of those soldiers. For nearly 50 years Barber has been searching for more information about Pattinson and his death.

She grew up hearing stories of Uncle Roy from her mother who painted him as a "kind, caring, soft spoken young boy" who loved playing soldier.

The Oak Bay High alumnus joined the military when he was 16 and was stationed at Ogden Point in Victoria. He joined the Royal Canadian Artillery in 1939.

"In the '60s I ... did quite a lot of research on my Uncle Roy and just couldn't locate anyone," Barber told All Points West host Jason D'Souza.

First contact

Barber put adds in Legion magazines in the '70s and '80s but had no luck connecting with men from her uncle's regiment in the RCA until earlier this year, when she was contacted by Dr. Roly Armitage.

The 92-year-old Ottawa resident was in France at roughly the same time as the Oak Bay students and found the thank you cards on Pattinson's grave, which was his lead in tracking down his admired comrade's family.

He contacted the Oak Bay archives, where staff provided him with Barber's information.

"Dr. Roly Armitage was in the 3rd Medium Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery and was with my uncle when he was killed on July 29, 1944. My uncle would've been his superior lieutenant," Barber said.

"He had thought a great deal of my uncle, as did so many others."

'Bittersweet'

They talked for hours during that first phone call and continue to keep in touch by email. Barber is also planning a visit to Ontario in the spring to visit Armitage.

She extends her thanks to the students and teachers at Oak Bay High School and acknowledges them in being the unintentional intermediaries between her and Armitage.

"It's bittersweet in a way because my uncle isn't here today, but I can truly say that the world lost a very fine person," she said. 

"Who knows what could've come of him had he been allowed to return to Victoria and live out his days in Oak Bay."

To hear the full interview with Louise Barber listen to media below:

With files from All Points West


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