Oak Bay man follows in heroic father’s footsteps

Belgian town to honour Canadian major who met his son only once

Horace Williams will be honoured next year by a town in Belgium.

Oak Bay resident Ross Williams met his dad once, through a nursery window, yet over the years he’s learned more and more about the man – from overseas sources.

Horace (Harry) Palmer Williams was raised in Victoria and married Gwendolyn Addison in 1937.

He enlisted in the Canadian Scottish Regiment July 30, 1940 and served until May 12, 1941 before joining the South Saskatchewan Regiment, Sept. 18, 1942.

He became second lieutenant in April 1942, captain in October 1943 and major by August 1944.

Williams got leave to travel home and meet his son, Ross, born July 3, 1942. He saw the newborn only through the nursery window before returning to training in Calgary the next day.

“He left the day after I was born,” Ross said.

Later that month he arrived in the UK and with his cohorts travelled north.

Ross’s mother Gwendolyn learned of her husband’s death on her birthday, Oct. 17, 1944. He’d been gunned down by a tank in a street in Brecht, Belgium.

Brecht resident Wally Schoof’s grandparents lived in a house just across the street from the park, and told him many stories of the battle just outside their home. They tended the roadside grave for Ross’s father. Schoof, a Second World War historian who collects memorabilia for his basement museum, worked tirelessly to have a memorial that now marks the land near the battle site.

Once connected, Ross and Schoof emailed over the years, meeting up in 2012 when Ross visited his father’s grave. A maple tree in adjacent Lochtenberg Park was planted in honour of Maj. Williams.

Next spring he and his wife plan to spend more than a week in the town and reconnect with Schoof, who has become a good friend.

“In May they’re naming a street after my dad,” says Ross, who helps collect items for the basement museum. “We’ve become really good friends I want to reconnect with him.”

The road dedication, slated for May 3, 2015, is yet another Schoofs project.

Harry Williams Lane, on the former battlefield of the Battle of Lochtenberg, is a stone’s throw for the first burial site.

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com