May, Ken

Ken May was born November 19, 1921 in Toronto’s East York neighbourhood.  He grew up there, against the backdrop of the Great Depression, doing all the normal things for a young boy during that time.  Ken left school when he was 15, going to work for Weston’s Bakery, where his father had worked.  When the war broke out in 1939 Ken was already 18, and he received his letter from the government; it would not be until 1941 that they came for him though, and Ken reported to the Horse Palace, and then Camp Ipperwash.   During this time Ken and his young fiance decided to marry and he secured a few days off in order to do that.  His training complete, he went to Halifax and then overseas, and soon into the heart of the Italian campaign.  First Ken spent some time in England, doing additional training and schemes and seeing a bit of the country.   The Canadian army in Italy was in the process of pushing north through one geographic obstacle after another.  As an NCO in the Perth Regiment, Ken was in charge of a PIAT crew and one night they were tasked with doing a patrol.  They ran into an ambush; several members of Ken’s team were killed, and Ken was grievously wounded, so much so that his war ended that night, though the recovery would go on for a long time.  He would spend time in hospital in Italy, England and Canada, enduring surgeries and therapy as he was nursed back to health.  Back in Toronto he also reconnected with his family, including his young wife, and he met his baby daughter, born while he was overseas.  Together they fell into the rhythms of civilian life in postwar Canada.  Ken May was interviewed by Scott Masters in August 2022, at his home in Bobcaygeon, Ontario.