Earl Moffat was on the Normandy Beach on D-Day. (Photo courtesy Moffat family)

Remembering Nakusp’s contribution to D-Day

75th anniversary of historic invasion

Even tiny Nakusp has a connection to one of the largest invasions in military history.

“Earl Moffat was in the army for D-Day,” says Nakusp Legion first vice-president Ken Williams.

Moffat, though from Saskatchewan, lived in Nakusp for 50 years, raising his family after moving there in the mid-1950s.

“They told him, ‘You’re going to be driving a jeep on D-Day for a colonel,’” says Williams.

“Now, this was very close to D-Day. And Earl thought about it and said, ‘We’re going to be coming off this landing craft, they don’t go anywhere near the beach. This jeep is going to be going into the water, and it’s going to stop the engine, because there’ll be water in the carburetor, and the exhaust.

“So he outfitted his Jeep with special pipes, and when he landed he just drove off the landing craft and onto the beach, and he was apparently the only one to make it without his officer getting his feet wet.”

The funny anecdote can’t mask the real horror and violence of that day.

“I asked Earl, ‘Were you scared on D-Day?’” recalls Williams. “And he said ‘Scared? I got out of that damn Jeep, and found cover until we could go up the hill.’”

Moffat, who passed away a few years ago, isn’t the only connection to the historic assault on Normandy’s beaches.

Williams’ father was also an active participant — not from the water, but from the air.

“My father was a navigator, and his bomber led its squadron, and their squadron led its group over on D-Day,” recalls Williams.

“I said to my dad, ‘D-Day started at 6 a.m.’ He said ‘Yeah, the invasion did, but the air invasion started at midnight the day before.’”

Williams’ father did two bombing runs that week in support of the ground troops.

“They bombed that night, had a break, ate breakfast, then loaded up again and bombed the next night as well,” he says.

He says it’s hard to imagine what these young men went through.

“They signed up to go to war because of the excitement. They were all young people,” he says. “Then all of a sudden they had to go and hit the beaches, and they knew a lot of them weren’t going to come back. That’s really something else, what they did. They couldn’t turn around after they were in. But they went ahead and did it.”

Williams’ father eventually made it home safely. At least, in body. Like many veterans, the war was something to put behind him.

“My dad, when he came home after the war, wanted to forget about it and get on with life,” he says. He recalls when his father went to a reunion of his old bomber group.

“I asked my dad if he saw anybody he knew there, but he wouldn’t talk to me about the reunion,” recalls Williams. “And I asked my mom, and she said ‘Are you stupid? His friends were either killed, or are old, or are dead. There was no one there he’s going to know.’”

For decades, members of the Nakusp Legion have remembered the men from their community who left for that war, and the seven from the community that didn’t return.

Now, the living memory of the war is passing on. Nakusp’s oldest vet recently passed away at 102.

The stark reality of the passage of time means there’s a danger we can forget the lessons taught by that war, and what led up to it, says Williams.

“One of the reasons for the war was economics — and bigotry. It was a whole mess of things, starting with the economy in Germany in the Dirty ‘30s” he says.

“So when you see economic situations like that coming around again, it affects us as well. We can’t forget how this happened, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Just Posted

Teck will continue to fight U.S. judgement

U.S. Supreme Court denied hearing Teck’s appeal last week

Four fires still burning in West Kootenay

More than 25 fires were started by lightning in the last week.

Greens choose Rosslander to represent them in next federal election

Tara Howse is the former chair of Rossland’s Sustainability Commission

OPINION: Kootenay tech sector is on the rise and everyone is noticing

Community Comment by Raghwa Gopal, president and CEO of Innovate BC

Nine fires burning in West Kootenay

All fires considered to be lightning caused.

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Home care for B.C.’s elderly is too expensive and falls short: watchdog

Report says seniors must pay $8,800 a year for daily visits under provincial home support program

B.C. ‘struggling’ to meet needs of vulnerable youth in contracted care: auditor

Auditor general says youth in contracted residential services may not be getting support they need

Pair of B.C. cities crack Ashley Madison’s ‘Infidelity Hotlist’

Data from the website reveals Abbotsford and Kelowna hottest spots for cheaters

Cranbrook RCMP seek help finding missing man

Jeffrey Edward Burns was last seen on the evening of Sunday, June 16.

Life’s work of talented B.C. sculptor leads to leukemia

Former Salmon Arm resident warns of dangers of chemical contact

Billboard posted along B.C.’s Highway of Tears to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women

Billboards featuring Indigenous artwork to be placed in Surrey, Kamloops and near Prince George

Federal cabinet ministers visit Edmonton, Calgary, in wake of TMX approval

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi is set to visit Trans Mountain Corp.’s terminal in Edmonton

B.C. municipality prepares to forbid overnight camping by homeless despite court ruling

While courts have ruled against blanket bans, Langley City is employing a site-by-site approach

Most Read