Last month, a new display was unveiled in the Memorabilia room of the Millbrook Legion.
A shadow box containing a military jacket and two military caps owned by the late Edwin Reid Retallick of Millbrook is now mounted in the display room.
Born in 1923, Retallick grew up in his grandparent’s home in Perrytown just south of Campbellcroft. His father died when Retallick was only two years old, leaving his mother to support Edwin and his sister Eleanor. Both siblings wanted to attend teachers’ college, but money was tight so Edwin worked to raise money for his sister’s tuition after completing Grade ten. In 1942 at the age of 19, he decided to join the war effort and walked to Port Hope to enlist. After some training at Camp Borden, Retallick joined the Cameron Highlanders regiment out of Ottawa and traveled by ship to England where he began to serve on the front lines. He continued to support his mother by sending her half of his military pay.
According to his son David, the first battle in which Retallick’s regiment of 110 men engaged was hard hit- only eleven men returned at the end of the day. It was shortly after this battle that Retallick was named Sargent.
The Cameron Highlanders operated three battalions during the Second World War, and was the one of the regiments to land on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, and Retallick was among them. According to military records, the Camerons were the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division’s heavy weapons and supported all units landing on the beaches. From there the regiment supported the war efforts primarily in France in the vicinity of Caen, continuing through North-West Europe and into Germany.
Unfortunately for Retallick, the end of the war did not mean the end of his military service. He was selected to remain in Europe for a year as a member of the occupying forces in Germany. This delay allowed him the opportunity to witness part of the Nuremberg trials in which 22 Nazi party officials, high-ranking military officers and industrialists were prosecuted for war crimes by judges from the Allied powers.
Upon his return, Retallick moved back the area and married Eileen Gainer, with whom he spent the next 64 years. While the couple was saving for farm of their own, Eileen’s father passed away unexpectedly and for the next 50 years, Eileen and Edwin lived on the Gainer farm in Perrytown. Retallick lived a quiet life working for most of his civilian career at Masterfeeds and participating in local groups such as the Millbrook Agricultural Fair Board and the Millbrook O.F.A. Lodge, passing away peacefully in December 2014.
His son David remains in the area, and remembers his father as a quiet man who rarely spoke of his many contributions to his country and his community. He was pleased to have his father’s military service recognized if only posthumously, in a permanent display in the legion. KG