Local Hero: A salute to a Second World War veteran on Remembrance Day

Yonge-Lawrence native remembers the war from his perch on the high seas


Senior veteran George Lawrie

While we wear poppies on Remembrance Day for those who served our country, Yonge Street and Lawrence Avenue native George Lawrie remembers his own days of service.

Lawrie, a Second World War veteran, is one of 475 veterans from the Second World War and the Korean War at Sunnybrook Hospital’s veterans centre. Sunnybrook is the largest veterans’ facility in Canada for long-term hospital care, and Lawrie, 92, has called it home for the last two years.

Lawrie joined the navy and spent 14 months on the ship called The Puncher, which began after months of paperwork and training. “Nine months of training and it was about a year until I went to radar school and then got drafted out into the ship in Vancouver,” he said. 

Once on board, Lawrie said there was a sink or swim mentality. “We had to learn how to operate an aircraft carrier from scratch,” he said. “When flyer jets would take off there were some times where they didn’t make it, and one pilot drowned. There was sadness here and there.”

He also remembers a time in Saint John in the Bay of Fundy where a soldier was killed by another ship.

“That’s why you wear a dog tag, so you can identify the body. When you go down in the ocean, it becomes your grave,” he said.

Both of Lawrie’s brothers were in the army. His eldest brother died from wounds while serving. 

“He was buried at sea in the Mediterranean,” he said.

This Remembrance Day, Lawrie will join other resident veterans for a ceremony on the main floor of the building.

A rundown of all city of Toronto Remembrance Day ceremonies can be found here.

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