British Columbia

Iconic 'Wait For Me, Daddy' WW II photo unveiled as sculpture

'Wait For Me, Daddy,' a photo taken of a boy running after his father as he heads to battle, became an iconic symbol of Canada at war. Now, a series of sculptures depicting the scene in the image have been unveiled.

Statue unveiled Saturday at ceremony in New Westminster, B.C.

The iconic 'Wait For Me Daddy' WW II photo was unveiled as a sculpture Saturday at a two hour ceremony in New Westminster, B.C. (CBC)

It was a single photograph, but it captured so much about family, separation and the uncertainty of war.

In 1940, as hundreds of soldiers marched through the streets of New Westminster, B.C., a five-year-old boy broke free from his mother's hand and ran after his father, who would eventually head off to battle in Europe.

Warren (Whitey) Bernard was that little boy, and his father was Pte. Jack Bernard.

The photo, 'Wait For Me, Daddy,' made the front page of the Vancouver Daily Province the next day, but photographer Claude Dettloff likely had no idea it would soon appear in newspapers across North America, hang in every classroom in B.C. and grace the pages of Life magazine.

Now that photograph has been immortalized in the form of a series of bronze statues on the very corner where the picture was taken.

Whitey Bernard, now 79, remembers the moment he saw his father march past.

"Grandpa came around in his old '34 Chev and picked us up and took us out to New West. I guess I got it in my head that, you know, he was gonna vanish at this point," Bernard said.

So, the little boy took off.

Charlie Bernhardt of C Company, number 14 Platoon, was among the hundreds of soldiers marching past. He saw little Whitey break free and make a run toward his father. In fact, Whitey's father helped Bernhardt enlist.

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      "Just like the fellas, the people in uniform in that picture. There were casualties there too and on the home front — with the families there were casualties there too," said Bernhardt.

      Photo used to sell Victory Bonds

      While Bernard was overseas, times were tight for Whitey and his mother, Bernice — but they were also exciting. For two years, Whitey and the now-famous photo were used to sell government Victory Bonds to help pay for the war effort.

      Public events would include entertainers, but Whitey would be brought on stage at the end to make the final pitch.

      "At the end of the show they had a huge, big mock-up of the picture and they would unveil it and I would come out and say my 'buy-a-bond today and bring-my-daddy home' speech," he recalls.

      "When you look at the picture," Whitey would tell the crowd, "please think of all Canada's little boys and girls who, like myself, want their daddies home. That's why we ask you to put 'Victory' first."

      Today, a series of three bronze statues — made by Canadian Edwin Dam de Nogales and his wife, Veronica — recreating the photo was unveiled.

      Canada Post also unveiled a special commemorative stamp featuring the iconic photograph at the event, and the Royal Canadian Mint unveiled a two-dollar coin featuring the image.

      With files from the CBC's Belle Puri


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