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This article was published 15/5/2019 (386 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Jacqueline White lives in the same small house a young Brandon man left to serve his country 75 years ago and never returned.
On Tuesday, White received a postcard from the Juno Beach Centre Association telling her a little bit about the young man, Walter John Klos, who was born to Joseph and Antonia Klos on July 1, 1917 and died June 6, 1944, during the Juno Beach campaign in northern France.
Klos was a 26-year-old corporal with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles.
"It is really, kind of, a little overwhelming to find out that somebody (who served in the war) actually lived here," said White, who has lived in the house at 206 12th St. North for about three years.
"This is pretty awesome," she said of the postcard. "You have a connection with someone."
White said she plans to keep the postcard in a safe place to remember the soldier’s sacrifice.
"I knew what Juno Beach is," she said. "I guess it makes you aware that these things really did happen."
The association, which is dedicated to commemorating Canada’s role in the Second World War, mailed out postcards to the former homes of soldiers who died in the first five days of the pivotal D-Day campaign, which helped secure victory for allied troops against Germany.
The commemorative project is meant to honour the 75th anniversary of the D-Day campaign.
White’s postcard was one of six mailed out to Brandon homes.
A few blocks away, at 26 Eighth St. North, another young man also left his home to serve overseas.
Eugene J. Woronchuk, who was also 26 and a rifleman with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, died the same day as Klos.
It’s not outside the realm of possibly they knew one another back home, perhaps even enlisting together.
Now located across from the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium, the house at 1925 Princess Ave. was once the home of Hugh Archibald Munroe, a corporal with the Regina Rifle Regiment. Munroe, 24, died the same day as Klos and Woronchuk, on June 6.
Wilfred Howard Way, a 23-year-old flight lieutenant with the Royal Canadian Air Force, died the next day. Flanked by a pair of tall trees, his home at 645 14th St. is now undergoing renovations.
Austin Ralph Fuller also lived in a modest house at 116 16th St. The 26-year-old lance corporal with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles died the day after Way, on June 8.
Joseph Arthur Elwood Kinnaird, the youngest of the six men, was only 22 when he was killed on June 8 as well. Calling 218 12th St. his home, Kinnaird served as a gunner with the Royal Canadian Artillery.
An estimated 156,000 British, American and Canadian troops stormed a 75-kilometre stretch of beach in northern France beginning on June 6, 1944. The 14,000 Canadian soldiers were assigned to an area dubbed Juno Beach, where they were eventually tasked with reaching a local rail line and beating back the assault from German troops.
The 76-day campaign exacted a high death toll from all nations involved, with 903 Canadians perishing in the first five days.
Mike Bechthold, executive director of the Juno Beach Centre Association, told The Canadian Press researchers mined attestation records from the soldiers, preserved in a combination of government archives and genealogy sites.
More than half of the addresses listed on those documents are no longer valid, he said, replaced by new developments or rendered obsolete by changing geographical boundaries.
Valid addresses were found in nearly 400 cases.
Bechthold — a historian by trade — said the postcards should be seen as the letters that the slain soldiers "would have sent home if they could have." He said he hopes they will also help Canadians to connect the dots between the increasingly distant past and the lives they lead today.
"There’s history all around us, yet it’s almost like we walk around with blinders on," he said. "The people living in these houses ... have no concept of what happened there. This is an opportunity to sort of open their eyes and get them attuned to a different wavelength."
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from The Canadian Press
» Twitter: @BudRobertson4