Calgary

Alberta twins reconnect with father's war history through found mess kit

The phone call came out of nowhere. “I immediately thought, I think this isn’t for real. If it is too good to be true, it probably is,” Joy McKee said.

Young Dutch man found a soldier’s mess kit in a German forest, then he found that soldier’s daughters

This mess kit owned by Fred Bermingham was found by a young Dutch man last year in a German forest. The producers of the the television series War Junk found the soldier's daughters in the Drumheller area and flew them to Germany to reconnect with their father's war experience. (War Junk TV/YouTube)

The phone call came out of nowhere.

"I immediately thought, I think this isn't for real. If it is too good to be true, it probably is," Joy McKee said.

McKee and her twin sister, Joan Snyder, recently got a call from the producers of the History TV Canada's War Junk series.

"We received a phone call from the researcher asking if we were the daughters of Fred Bermingham. I said 'Yes.' It was amazing, I was very surprised this person would phone," McKee explained to The Homestretch on Thursday.

The twins' father had fought in the Second World War in 1945.

Those television producers had connected with a young Dutch man who lived near the Reichswald Forest in Germany.

"He was very interested in war history so he would walk through the forest just searching and he came upon this object sticking half out of the ground. He started digging and he pulled out this mess kit," Snyder explained.

The producers made the twins an offer they couldn't refuse.

"The producer indicated that we would walk in our dad's footsteps and stand where he had stood. That was quite exciting. I said to Joy, 'We have to do this for our dad,'" Snyder said.

A Documentary series called "War Junk" uncovers the stories behind artifacts left on WWII battlefields. Tonight's episode revolves around a mess kit with a Drumheller connection. Joan Snyder and Joy McKee joined Doug Dirks in studio to talk about it. 9:58

The mess kit, a small box that would have held food and a tin cup, was full of shrapnel holes.

"It was actually amazing to think that after all of those years it was still intact. Dad's name was etched on it so we knew it was Bermingham," McKee said.

She said the trip to Germany, documented by the War Junk series, was surreal.

"It was very emotional," McKee recalled.

Joan Snyder, left, and her twin sister Joy McKee share their story of returning to the battlefield where their father fought in the Second World War. (Tracy Fuller/CBC)

"It was like he was there, we could just feel him there. It was a very spiritual feeling. It was like stepping back into history. We were there, during that war, imagining dad handling the troops and artillery."

Snyder says the trip brought her closer to her father.

"I never had felt him so much alive since his passing, as my feeling, both of us had, that dad was right here," she said.


With files from The Homestretch