Corporal Fred Barnard was born in Toronto on April 13, 1921. He lived on Sutherland Avenue and attended Secord Public School and Central Technical School. Typical of young men of that generation, he left school early and went to work.
As the war in Europe began and continued, friends and acquaintances enlisted, and Fred followed suit in 1941 and enlisted with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada after seeing a newsreel film at a movie theatre in Toronto. ‘I didn’t like what the Nazis were doing”, Fred said. “I didn’t like the hatred. I had to do something. Somebody had to do it!” Strong convictions and a sense of duty for a young man of 20….but his personal character and a family legacy of service established by his grandfather during the Boer War and his father in the Great War led him to enlist.
Through three years of service to the country, one day of action, 6 June 1944, had a deep and lasting effect on Fred. On D-Day, Fred and his brother Don were crouched down about six men apart from each other as they approached Juno Beach, Nan White Sector at Bernieres-Sur-Mer in the first wave of assault. As the front ramp dropped, Fred yelled, ‘Give ‘em hell, Don” and the brothers jumped into waist-deep water. Those were the last words ever spoken between them. When Fred reached the shore, he came upon Don lying on the ground. He’d been killed by a single bullet to his chest. He must have died instantly, Fred told me.
Fred went on to fight in the fierce battle to take Carpiquet Airport, and shortly after was involved in the Liberation of Caen. In the Quesney Woods, Fred, at this time in charge of his platoon, was seriously wounded by shrapnel in the neck, shoulder and foot. After five months of convalescence in England, Fred boarded a ship and returned to Canada.
In 2007 he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur by the President of France and in June 2019 the City of Uxbridge held a parade and event to recognize Fred’s contribution to WWII. The City of Uxbridge also named a street in his honour.
He died on Friday, 23 August 2019 and was buried in Uxbridge Cemetery.