Cosgrove, Stephen

Stephen Cosgrove was born June 5, 1926 in Liverpool, England.  He was 13 when the war began, and he remembers the schools shutting down in the early days of the war:  there were fears of a German attack, and authorities did not want a school to get hit.  Stephen remembers classrooms set up in people’s homes, but he did not feel as if he was learning anything, so – as he was turning 14 – he made the decision to quit school and become a plumber’s apprentice, work that kept him busy in the early war years.  All the while the Blitz was on, and three of the homes where Stephen lived with his family were bombed out in the early part of the war.  Stephen joined the Cadets at this time, and he and his friends began to anticipate their eventual call-up.  That came in 1944 when he turned 18, and he was off to Carlisle Castle for training.  Additional training followed in Lancaster, and then Stephen was posted to the Seaforth Highlanders, 2nd Battalion, 51st Division.  They went over to France in the fall of 1944, and they were moved to the front in Belgium and the Netherlands where they experienced their first combat.  Stephen did take part in the liberation of Dutch towns and villages, which he remembers fondly.  He also recalls the reality of combat and loss, and the toll of day-to-day life near and on the front lines.  He and the Seaforth Highlanders did cross the Rhine near the end of the war, and Stephen even saw the famous Rhine crossing of Winston Churchill and Bernard Montgomery!  The war ended soon after, and Stephen stayed in the army of occupation for a time before returning to Britain.  There he married and started to get on with his life, but he recalls it was tough to find work, so he and his young wife decided on Canada, and they ended up in Ajax, Ontario.  They built their life together in the eastern suburbs of Toronto, and Stephen still lives there today.  Scott Masters interviewed him at his home there in January 2024; we thank Zach Dunn for the introduction, and you can see his interviews here –