10-year-old helps vet return to Europe

Sgt. Roy Hare and Aiden Dick in Chatham on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. (Photo by Allanah Wills)

A veteran of the Second World War is heading back to the land he helped liberate thanks, in part, to a boy 80 years his junior.

Next month, 94-year-old Sgt. Roy Hare will be representing the Essex & Kent Scottish Regiment in Belgium at the 75th-anniversary celebrations of Belgium’s liberation during the Second World War.

Hare was in Europe for battle for a total of six months, starting out in France before making his way through Belgium and into Germany. While in Germany, he was taken as a prisoner of war for 57 days before being freed in April of 1945.

“If I had been liberated two days sooner I could have come home with my unit but I was in the permanent staff over there, making sure everybody else got home. I was there for about 14 months after the war was over. So I didn’t come home until 1946. If I had been there in Europe for two more days I would have been there for exactly two years,” Hare explained.

As one of the last 10 remaining members of the Scottish Regiment, Hare was offered an invitation to commemorate the members of the regiment who helped liberate Ekeren, Belgium in October of 1944. Because the trip wasn’t done formally through Veterans Affairs Canada, the organization offered up some money but funds were still needed to help get Hare and his caregiver to Belgium.

In July, representatives from the Essex & Kent Scottish Regiment Association put out a public all for donations towards the trip, a call that was heard by 10-year-old Aiden Dick from Windsor.

Dick organized a lemonade stand and GoFundMe page during the summer to help raise money for Hare’s trip.

According to Dick’s father and stepmom, they had a goal this summer to teach him the value of work and philanthropy by earning money and then donating it. When he heard about Hare’s story, Dick knew that’s where he wanted to donate his hard-earned cash.

“I overheard [my] dad talking about the Scottish Essex regiment, how they needed funds to send their remaining World War Two local veterans overseas back to Europe so they can get plaques and parades and streets named after them,” Dick said. “I thought that it would be a good idea to help them out and raise funds so they could get overseas.”

Dick was able to raise just under $2,000 for the cause. On Tuesday evening, Dick and Hare met up in Chatham to share their stories with local media and friends.

Hare said he was very thankful for Dicks’s gesture.

“They’re so young when they realize what it’s all about. More so than we think they do, I guess,” he said. “For someone that young to take on such a chore. It’s very good, I appreciate that.”

The Essex & Kent Scottish Regiment Association was also able to raise money through their own efforts. Dennis Poole, Officer Commanding, Delta Company, previously told Blackburn News that he expects to get even more invitations for surviving regiment members to return to Europe in 2020.

“These communities would really like to honour them,” said Poole. “And they’re dedicating monuments to the regiment, as well as even naming streets and squares after our regiment. So it’s a pretty significant and important function.”

-With files from Cheryl Johnstone