Sudbury

Gathering the stories of Canada's remaining WWII vets

When the Second World War came to an end in Europe with Germany’s surrender in May 1945, more than a million Canadians had served in the deadliest conflict in human history. Now, the grandson of one veteran is travelling coast to coast to interview as many surviving WWII veterans as he can.

Eric Brunt travelling from coast-to-coast collecting stories from veterans

Eric Brunt, sits down to speak with a WWII veteran. He's travelling across Canada gather stories from veterans to create a documentary. (Supplied/Eric Brunt)

When the Second World War came to an end in Europe with Germany's surrender in May 1945, more than a million Canadians had served in the deadliest conflict in human history.

More than 100,000 Canadians who enlisted were either killed or wounded.

Now, the grandson of one veteran is travelling coast to coast to interview as many surviving WWII veterans as he can.

"When [my grandfather] passed away, I realized that despite hearing some of his Air Force stories … I never had actually sat down with him and recorded these conversations," Eric Brunt, who is creating a documentary on the topic, said.

"So I started interviewing some veterans from the Vancouver and Victoria area and as I progressed, I started getting contacts further and further from those areas."

Eventually, Brunt got a van and decided to travel across the country to meet with veterans and hear their stories. He's interviewed 135 veterans across Canada and recently stopped in northeastern Ontario.

A stop in Sault Ste. Marie included an interview with veteran Harold Soderlund.

"He was a very interesting man because he had been a pilot during the war stationed in Africa," he said.

Eric Brunt stands with Harold Soderlund, a veteran he met in Sault Ste. Marie. (Supplied/Eric Brunt)

"His plane was actually shot down when he was pursuing a German aircraft. The plane basically submerged in a matter of minutes. But he and his navigator were able to get out of the plane and they were able to grab an inflatable lifeboat."

The pair ended up spending three days in that boat in the Mediterranean Sea, Brunt said. A German ship picked them up and they spent the rest of their time overseas as prisoners of war.

Brunt is not only speaking to veterans, but others who worked during the war including nurses. He says some are hesitant to talk with him, but says their families and other veterans have convinced some veterans to open up.

"It's been pretty incredible and humbling that I am the one that they're opening up to," he said.

"I just hope that with my documentary I can do these stories justice."

Brunt says he plans to finish the documentary by next year. Veterans who wish to speak with Brunt can contact him through his Facebook page.

With files from Jessica Pope

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.