Stafford, Ed

Ed Stafford was born in Toronto on January 31, 1921.  He grew up in the city’s west end, during the Great Depression.  Ed attended school until Grade 10, when he decided to apprentice as a tool and die maker at GE.  When the war came along, one of Ed’s friends joined the Governor General’s Horse Guards, and Ed and the brother of that friend decided to do the same, hitchhiking up to Camp Borden to do so.  They spent a few months there, and then they were sent to Halifax, where they boarded a troop ship and headed to Britain.  An armoured unit, it was time for the Governor-General’s Horse Guards to learn their way around the tanks and vehicles they’d be using.  They stayed in England for a considerable time, training and moving around; while there Ed was able to reconnect with members of his father’s extended family, which gave him a place to go on leave.  Eventually the long awaited battle deployment came through, and the men were shipped off to Italy via Gibraltar and Algiers.  Ed’s first time under fire came when he was driving an officer near Bari; the Luftwaffe attacked the harbour there, and Ed found himself near the crossfire, watching the air raid unfold.  It turned out that an American ship secretly transporting mustard gas was hit, causing devastating casualties; Ed was outside the danger zone, and he learned of this later.  The GGHG moved north in Italy, seeing action in the Liri Valley, in the battles that led to the liberation of Rome.  Ed suffered a bout of appendicitis at this time, and he had to have surgery, followed by a period of recuperation.  The regiment moved into France and the Netherlands at this time, and Ed was left behind, in hospital.  He was assigned to duty in England, where he was a gunnery instructor; he went on leave in early May, and VE Day came while he was in Manchester.  Ed was then returned to the GGHG and spent the summer months in Holland, before returning to England and then Canada, where he and the other men fell into the rhythms of postwar Canadian life.  Ed Stafford was interviewed by Scott Masters at his daughter Jackie’s home in July 2020.