'A story that should be remembered': 8 men from rural Sask. family left to fight overseas in WW II

·2 min read
Phil Deutscher said his parents were married during the war after his father, Bert, met his mother in Scotland. (Phil Deutscher/Facebook - image credit)
Phil Deutscher said his parents were married during the war after his father, Bert, met his mother in Scotland. (Phil Deutscher/Facebook - image credit)

Phil and Jan Deutscher join their family of about 15 to 20 most years at the cenotaph in Regina Cemetery on Remembrance Day. Then, Phil lays a wreath at his father's grave in the Soldiers' Plot.

It's how they remember Phil's father and seven of his siblings, all of whom enlisted to fight in the Second World War.

The family had 13 children, nine of whom were boys. Of them, eight were old enough to enlist by the time of the war. All of them did, voluntarily.

"They all saw active duty, they all went overseas, and they all came home," Phil told host Garth Materie on CBC Radio's Afternoon Edition.

"I can only imagine what that would be like, as a parent myself, to have eight of my 13 children just gone overseas in a war and no communication, no nothing. It would be horrible," he said.

Phil's father, Bert, often told the story of how even after his return, his mother received redacted letters sent years earlier.

"He was already back home in Canada and his mother was receiving a letter a year later from when he was in Malta," Jan said. "She wouldn't know day to day if they were alive and well."

The Deutscher family has previously made headlines for their war service. An article from The Canadian Register on June 12, 1943, quotes politicians praising the family's service to the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Gordon Graydon, the House leader for what was then the federal Progressive Conservative Party, was quoted in the article referring to the service from the "new Canadians" as a great "manifestation of generous citizenship and supreme patriotism."

"I say 'new Canadians' merely because Mr. and Mrs. Deutscher were not born in this country. They are Canadians in the fullest and truest sense of that description," Graydon is quoted as saying.

When they enlisted, the men in the Deutscher family ranged in age from 19 to 34, according to the article. All of them served with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

'My mother was a Scottish war bride'

Phil says heading overseas to war was the first time his father had left the confines of Odessa, Sask., his hometown.

Bert was a flight sergeant who saw action in Europe and Africa — but he and his brothers rarely talked about the horrors of war, Phil says.

When Bert spoke to his children, it was only about the "good parts," like meeting Phil's mother and later marrying her.

"My mother was a Scottish war bride. My dad was at one time stationed in Scotland, in Prestwick, and he was billeted at his future wife's sister's place," Phil said.

Three of Bert's brothers who were overseas at the time were able to attend the wedding.

"We're very proud of our family and I think it's a story that should be remembered," Phil said.

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