Boon, Art

Art Boon was born November 12, 1924 in Peterborough, England, emigrating to Canada when he was a baby.  Art’s father had come to Canada for the first time in 1912, but with the outbreak of the Great War Art’s father and uncle returned to Europe to fight in that war.  Art grew up in Stratford, Ontario against the backdrop of the Great Depression, attending school and doing all the things that kids did at that time.  When the war came, Art was one of many of his generation to lie about his age, managing to join up when he was only 15 years old.  Art had intended to go into the infantry, but he ended up in the Armoured Corps, a member of a tank crew.  After training at multiple locations in Canada – including Newmarket, Borden, and Petawawa – Art was sent down to New York City, and put on the Ile de France, bound for England.  After training in the Salisbury Plain area, Art and the 5th Div. were ready for the Normandy landings, and they were at the heart of D-day on June 6, 1944, landing on Juno Beach at St-Aubin-sur-Mer.  From there they fought their way into the town and through Normandy, taking part in major engagements like the Falaise Pocket.  With the German army on the run, the Canadians pursued them along the coast, moving quickly through France and into Belgium, where the intense fighting resumed along the Breskens Pocket and Walcheren Island.  Art remembers the awful conditions there, recalling that they were always wet as they fought to take the port of Antwerp.  They succeeded though, pushing across Holland and crossing the Rhine into Germany itself.  The war ended quickly after that, and Art decided to remain in the Army of Occupation, staying in Germany and Holland until the summer of 1946.  He recalls playing a good deal of baseball and hockey during that time.  When it was time to come home Art had to find ways to adjust back to civilian life – after all he had been through he was still only 21, and he had to find his way into the rhythms of postwar Canadian life.  He did though, going on to marry and raise a family and resume a postwar military career.  Art Boon was interviewed by Scott Masters at his home in Stratford in August 2022.