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Pvt. Jean (Lawrence) Baptiest Duhamel
Jean (Lawrence) Baptist Duhamel, Private No. H63935
The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada
Jean Baptiste Duhamel was a brave Canadian soldier who served in WWII. He fought overseas and gave his life for freedom.
Jean Baptiste Duhamel was born on September 13th, 1924 in Rainy River Ontario Canada. He was the 3rd oldest of 6 children born to John and Ella Duhamel. His mother passed away when he was eleven. He had three brothers who also served overseas, two during World War Two and one during the Korean War. It is unclear whether or not they made it home. He had a tough childhood living in several different places and had lived with his aunt most of his life.
He was a single man and lived in Rainy River and Winnipeg most of his life. He had gone to high school in Winnipeg and dropped out in grade ten. He went on to work for his grandfather’s logging company.
His military psychiatric evaluation stated he enjoyed reading detective books, hunting and playing different types of sports such as rugby and baseball.
Jean Baptiste Duhamel was a member of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada in his later days of his military career. He started out in training and he joined the C.A.C. (Canadian Armoured Corps) in 1941 when he was seventeen and then he was discharged in 1942 for being under age.
He later re-enlisted on December 15th, 1943 when he was older, and went to basic training again in the armoured car regiment. From the basic training centre in Winnipeg Manitoba, he transferred to Orillia, Ontario. This was when he first went A.W.L. (absent without leave) and he was awarded 28 days detention. On May 29th, 1944 he was transferred from Orillia to Camp Borden.
He then went A.W.L. for two days seven hours and 45 minutes. He was then awarded seven days detention and had to give up three days pay.
He left Canada on November 20th, 1944 and landed in the U.K. on November 21st, 1944. On December 2nd, 1944 he transferred to the C.I.C. (Canadian Infantry Corps). This is also when he joined the Cameron Highlanders of Canada. He then left the U.K. on November 29th, 1944 and headed for North West Europe. This corresponds with the dates stated for Operation Veritable where the Q.O.C.H.O.C. (Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada) were located at that time.
The Cameron Highlanders of Canada were on their way into central Germany trying to reach the German city of Xanten and then later the Rhine River. This was all under the code name “Operation Veritable” directed under Field Marshall Montgomery. The Q.O.C.H.O.C made it to Xanten on March 8th, 1945, although Duhamel never made it to Xanten because he was killed 5 days prior. He was shot directly from an 88 millimeter round. It is unclear as to whether he was shot from a Tiger II tank or an anti aircraft gun of the name “88”. Either way, the reports say “there was nothing left of value among his army kit.”
Jean went to the hospital on a few occasions. Before entering the military his records state he had a history of diabetes and had an injury to his hand. The first was his basic medical inspection when he enlisted the first time. The second was when he re-enlisted for another mandatory medical examination visit. On October 9th, 1944 he visited the C.B.M.H. (Camp Borden Military Hospital) for a minor medical condition. On October 18th, 1944 he was released from the hospital and allowed to remain in the military.
On March 3rd, 1945 Jean Baptiste Duhamel was killed in action near Udem Germany. Jean Baptiste Duhamel is buried in the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery near Nijmegen, Holland. He is buried in grave 1 row f plot 21. He was originally buried in Germany near Udem but in 1946 he was relocated to his permanent plot in Holland. At the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery there are 2610 people buried there and 2599 are identified. The people buried here are mostly people who died in the Rhineland campaign.
For Duhamel’s military service he was given 4 medals: the 1935-45 Star, the France and Germany Star, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal & Clasp and the War Medal.
The 1935-45 Star was awarded to anyone who had served for more than six months in the military. The Star was awarded for one day or more of service in France, Belgium, Holland or Germany between June 6th, 1944 (D-Day) and May 8th, 1945. The Canadian Volunteer Service Medal was given to people who served in the Canadian Forces who voluntarily served on Active Service and honourably completed eighteen months of voluntary service from September 3, 1939 to March 1, 1947. The War Medal was given to anyone who served 28 days on the sea that is only a partial part of what the qualifications require. His next of kin was supposed to be his sister Marguerite, but because she was underage at the time, his grandmother Annabelle Lowes received $43.29 in Marguerite’s stead.
In conclusion Jean Baptiste was a hard working Canadian who gave his life to protect our freedom in WWII. He will forever be remembered.