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Remembering a family of heroes


It has been 75 years since the end of World War II when Canada sent 1,159,000 of their finest men and women to serve our country, and 44,090 never returned. For the Elliott family of Swan River, they were fortunate to have their loved ones come back from WWII alive and well. 
Five of the children of Chief Constable John Lattimer Elliott and Christina Flora Munro of Swan River bravely went off to serve. They were John “Jack” Alexander Elliott, Duncan Campbell Munroe Elliott,
Julia (Gladys) Vereker Elliott Laird, Christina Ivy Elliott Hardy and Veronica Theloney Fritzgerald (Evelyn)
Elliott Syme. Maxine Elliott Rodgers Losenno’s mother passed away when she was just two years old but Maxine grew up amongst her aunts and uncles as if she was their little sister. She has vivid memories and remembers stories passed down the family line about their time serving their country in war. These are
some of her recollections shared by her daughter Violet Sharp. “My mom never cried when her children went off to war. When everybody left, she let them go with a smile,” said Maxine. 
Corporal John “Jack” Alexander Elliott 
Many stories were shared in the family about Corporal John “Jack” Alexander Elliott’s time during the war but the most prominent one was about the time he cheated death.
“I was told about this time they were taking cover behind a wall and after one shell blast cleared uncle Jack was no where to be seen,” said Maxine. “The men dug and dug but could not find him. After they had settled for night, no one had much of an appetite. All of a sudden, there walked in uncle Jack covered from head to toe in dust and dirt. The first thing he did was sit down and he just simply asked for a cigarette.”
Corporal Elliott was active during the large scale Commando Raid on Dieppe along with a few other men
from the Swan Valley area. After the raid, he was reported as safe, along with Max Donaldson from Bowsman; Clifford Donaldson from Bowsman; and Noel Ham of Kenville. Fellow Swan Valley soldiers were not as fortunate.
Henry Dingwall of Lenswood was reported as wounded, Bennett Warne of Durban was believed to be reported as deceased; and Clifford Dubray and Wallace Hill, both of Swan River were reported as missing.
Corporal Jack Elliott was awarded the Netherland Award Bronze Lion for his bravery in Sept of 1945. Corporal Elliott served in the Canadian Infantry, the Second Canadian Infantry under The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada. In Feb of 1945, the battalion headquarters moved into an area, which they believed to be cleared of the enemy, when it was actually held by over 100 paratroopers, which was later known as the attack of 6 Canadian Infantry Brigade on Luisendorf. 
During the altercation, Corporal Elliott, the Commanding Officer, the Intelligence Officer were travelling
in a kangaroo vehicle, when it was hit twice by bazooka fire. The Commanding Officer was killed by small arms fire and the remaining passengers were injured, while the vehicle was set ablaze.
Despite being wounded, Corporal Elliott took immediate action and evacuated the wounded men from the vehicle to the shelter of a nearby barn. He went back to the kangaroo, and removed all the maps and codes from the vehicle. The enemy proceeded to approach the wounded men, while Corporal Elliott was trying to send a wireless message explaining the situation.
He quickly responded by dismounting a Browning machine gun from the burning kangaroo and fired upon the enemy. Although the enemy forces retaliated, they were eventually driven away by Corporal Elliott’s firing capabilities. One enemy officer managed to get into the barn where the wounded men were kept and began firing his gun at the casualties. Corporal Elliott left his secure position and maneuvered to the barn where he killed the enemy.
Had Corporal Elliott not acted quickly and bravely, the enemy surely would have gained very valuable information and a stronghold in the center of the battalion area. “When he came home, I was in the garage where we stored our firewood,” said Maxine. “I had an armful of kindling. He came and knelt
in front of me and started taking the wood from out of my arms. He said Maxine I want you to know, now that I am home, you and mom never have to carry wood or water. Looking back at all he had done for his men during the war, and to still want to serve his family after returning, spoke volumes to me.”
Duncan Campbell Munroe Elliott 
Duncan Campbell Munroe Elliott was born on May 7, 1914 in Minitonas. As a youth, he attended school in
Swan River up until he completed Grade 10. In 1933, he enlisted with the 9th Medium Regiment R.C.A.
When Britain declared war in September of 1939, he intended to join the Winnipeg Grenadiers, who were later shipped off to the infamous battle in Hong Kong, however his brother Jack persuaded him to enlist in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Winnipeg with Jack. Duncan had served his country in Britain, Germany, Holland and Belgium and then France before being honourable discharged from service in 1945, when he was wounded in France. One of the stories Maxine heard over the years was one that connected Duncan to his sister Evelyn’s future husband and learned about his resilience during the war. 
“Duncan was on the first ship on Christmas Eve, heading out of St. Lawrence to England, “ said Maxine.  He was set to take part in first landing but it was delayed by weather, so he was sent back to Canada to receive Officers training. Little did he know that his future brother in law William (Bill) Syme went to Nova Scotia to see the ships there and started up conversation with a man who ended up being the medic that carried uncle Duncan when he was wounded. The man said the whole way he thought he had been  carrying a dead man.”
The daughters
The three daughters of the Elliott’s were in the Women’s Division of the Royal Canadian Armed Forces.
Julia (Gladys) Vereker Elliott Laird started off by working as a stenographer and a telephone operator for 
the R.C.A.F. When both Gladys and Duncan joined the active forces, they started out at the bottom with Duncan as a private and Gladys as an airwoman second class. They received their corporal’s stripes at about the same time. Duncan received another one and became sergeant, but not long afterward Gladys received her third stripe and before long she was commissioned to an assistant section officer. This was equal in rank to a second Lieutenant, which Duncan received shortly after she was commissioned. 
Duncan later went on to be a first lieutenant and was equal in rank to Gladys, who ended off her war career as a Section Officer. It was during Gladys’ wedding to Flight Lieutenant Douglas Cameron Laird R. C. A. F., was when Maxine and her mother first learned that Jack had been injured. “At Gladys’ wedding, that was when the family got the notice,” said Maxine. “Evelyn  and a few other people already knew about it, but they didn’t tell my mom. Some how it got mixed into the congratulations to the happy couple, so whoever was reading them out, also said that Jack had been injured. My mom said not a word, nor did she shed a tear, but her knees weakened. Someone had graciously slid over a chair just in the nick of time and she sat down.” 
Christina Ivy Elliott Hardy was born on Aug. 16, 1916, and followed in her older siblings footsteps and
served her country. Many described her as a strong woman, who stood by her beliefs and charged head on into whatever the future held. She never forgot the war and with that came the constant urge to never lose hope, no matter what came. 
Veronica Theloney Fritzgerald (Evelyn Elliott Syme), the youngest of Jack and Christina Elliott’s children,
was born on Oct. 31, 1922. Like the rest of her siblings, Evelyn served overseas in World War II in the Air
Force. She later went on to work in Scotland Yard. “I was in the schoolyard swinging when the school bell started to ring,” recalled Maxine. “It was about four in the afternoon and then our church bell started ringing. Then all the churches in town had their bells ringing. I ran home so quickly for I didn’t know what was happening. I saw mom sitting in the rocking chair, just sobbing. I was so scared and calling out to her. She just kept rocking back and forth saying it’s ok, it’s ok, the war is over and I can cry now. My mom held back all her tears throughout the war until it was over.” All of the Elliott children came back from the war and went on to live fulfilled and adventurous lives.