Stewart Bray was born October 7, 1921 in Raglan, Ontario. He grew up on a farm, with nine siblings; they all attended the local one room schoolhouse and managed to have occasional fun times, but as Stewart recalls there was always work to be done on the farm. When the war began in September 1939 Stewart was picking peaches in southwestern Ontario, and he recalls that he had spent the night in a police station as he and a friend were unable to find a room. Stewart was exempted at first as he was a farmhand, but his turn came and he was called up, reporting for duty in January 1943. Training took place in Toronto, Brantford, and Camp Borden; Stewart was then shipped to Nova Scotia, where he boarded the Mauretania en route to Liverpool. While in England Stewart was stationed at Aldershot, and he was eventually assigned as a replacement troop to the storied Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI). They crossed the Channel early in July, seeing their first action at Verrieres Ridge and later taking part in the battles at Caen and Falaise Gap as they made their way through Normandy. The unit continued their move along the French coast, later taking part in an operation to clear the town on Bergues. It was during this mission that Stewart was wounded, when he stepped on a landmine. That was the end of his war; from there he went through a succession of hospitals, ending up at Christie Street Hospital in Toronto. Stewart’s foot and lower leg required multiple surgeries and rehabilitation on his road to recovery. He returned home and married his sweetheart June, and together they found their way in the rhythms of postwar Canadian life. Stewart Bray was interviewed at his home in Brooklin, Ontario in June 2022 by Scott Masters.
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