100-year-old veteran recognized for service to country, community

Angus Hamilton was surprised by a ceremony in Fredericton on Wednesday to honour his contributions as a radar technician during the Second World War. (Ed Hunter/CBC - image credit)
Angus Hamilton was surprised by a ceremony in Fredericton on Wednesday to honour his contributions as a radar technician during the Second World War. (Ed Hunter/CBC - image credit)

Angus Hamilton was 19 when his drive to see the world pushed him to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941.

Now 100, his contributions during the Second World War, and subsequently to his community, were recognized during a ceremony in Fredericton, where he was awarded a Command Commendation by the Canadian Army's 5th Canadian Division, which encompasses units across all of Atlantic Canada.

"I thought they'd just mention I'm a World War II veteran, but I didn't expect it to be so elaborate," said Hamilton, who was surprised by the ceremony Wednesday, which was also held to mark Remembrance Day.

Fredericton Mayor Kate Rogers and military brass including Brig.-Gen. Stéphane Masson, commander of 5th Canadian Division, attended the ceremony held at the Christ Church Parish Church downtown.

"You became a symbol and voice for the men and women of this country who worked behind the scenes to protect the people of this country, and of our own city," Rogers said.

"So it's been 77 years since World War II, but the meaning of your service and the service of people like you still resonates with us."

Ed Hunter/CBC
Ed Hunter/CBC

Hers and other speeches were followed by a recital of the Piper's Lament and choral performances of 'The White Cliffs of Dover' and 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary'.

From Ontario to Kolkata

Originally from Ontario, Hamilton was 19-years-old when he applied to join the Royal Canadian Air Force as a pilot in 1941.

He failed the air force's eye exam required to fly, but got recruited as a radar technician.

After basic training, he was put on a ship and spent three months sailing, first across the Atlantic Ocean, and then down around the southern tip of Africa, before reaching his final posting in Kolkata, India as part of the Burma Campaign.

"There was no particular danger there," Hamilton said. "The Japanese did come over once and dropped some bombs, but it never felt at risk at all — mind you the pilots was another matter."

Contributed/Facebook
Contributed/Facebook

After serving for about three years, Hamilton moved back to Canada where he worked as a surveyor, before moving to Fredericton in 1971 to chair the University of New Brunswick's surveying engineering department.

Hamilton said for Remembrance Day on Friday, he'll be thinking about the friends who he served with, none of whom are still alive.

"None of the people I served with were casualties. We all came home, and most of them lived normal lives. It's just I've been blessed to have these extra few years and I feel I'm a, I'm a token World War II vet."