Rhind, Jack

Jack Rhind was born May 1, 1920 in the Toronto neighbourhood of Rosedale.  His father was a successful dentist, and Jack grew up in pretty good circumstances, attending UTS for high school, and then the University of Toronto itself.  The family’s fortunes did change with the Great Depression, but Jack went to work, and began to pay many of his own bills, including university tuition. The coming of the war signalled a massive change for Jack.  Already enrolled at U. of T., he and some friends joined the Officer Training Corps, and Jack made the decision to specialize in artillery training, a decision that would impact him in later years. He was called up into the regular army in May 1942; training took place on Vancouver Island  and at Camp Petawawa, and the troop ship quickly followed by the end of that year. Jack left via New York City, and a difficult journey followed: a storm hit, they lost their convoy, and they were forced to dock in Iceland. After almost a month they docked in Liverpool, and from there they went to do additional training in England.  Jack wanted more than anything to be posted to a regiment, but while he waited he spent time as a PT officer, an opportunity to get in shape. He did eventually get attached to an artillery battery, and they were sent to Ireland for training, which turned out to be a ruse to get them on a ship and on their way to the Mediterranean. Sicily would be their first stop, and quickly they found themselves in Italy, arriving in Ortona after most of the fighting had concluded.  A young artillery officer, Jack and his men began their push up the peninsula. Intense fighting took place at Montecassino, and this is where Jack found himself at the heart of his wartime experience. He and his troop were stationed around the abbey, firing uphill at the Germans occupying the fortress, and finding themselves under counter-bombardment very often. Jack was lucky to escape with just a leg wound, though he lost men under his command. With the victory at Montecassino, Jack and the other “D-Day Dodgers” continued moving north, forcing the German to retreat all the while crossing difficult terrain.  As 1945 dawned, Jack’s troop was called to northern Europe, to take part in the liberation of the Netherlands; like other Canadian veterans, Jack remembers fondly the Dutch civilians who greeted them every step of the way. VE Day came while Jack was in Holland, and he spent the summer there while waiting for orders to return home, which came in the fall. He returned and fell quickly into the swim; he went back to work, and it was there that he met his future wife. The two married and raised a family, falling into the rhythms of postwar Canadian life.

Jack Rhind first visited Crestwood in 2013, and in March 2020 Scott Masters caught up with him at his home in Toronto, as he was readying to celebrate his 100th birthday.