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Grade 5 students pen letters to Barrie's war heroes

Children in Jared Rutledge's class at Terry Fox Elementary School researched local soldiers before writing personalized letters
Jared Rutledge's Grade 5 class at Terry Fox Elementary School in Barrie.

Editor's note: Grade 5 students in Jared Rutledge's class at Terry Fox Elementary School in Barrie have written the following letters to local war veterans. They are presented here unedited. 

Dear Mr. Stanley William Abrams, 

I am writing to you to let you know how thankful I am for you and many others who gave away their lives for people they don't even know. You helped Canada to even be called Canada. 

I will never forget about D-Day. You would have been running while people are shooting, throwing grenades, and stabbing others with bayonets. What did the materials feel like on your feet? Also I know that over 9,000 soldiers died or were badly injured. There was also razor and barbed wire making it almost impossible to get through without a tank. I also know that over 156,000 soldiers went to D-Day.

Now for the deadliest battle for Canadians in WWII, Dieppe. There was a lot of pressure on Canadian soldiers at Dieppe. They had to travel through the British Channel at dawn on boats so the Germans didn't find out because it would be dark at dawn. But there was a humongous mistake, and everyone was super late landing in France. After that the Germans could easily see them. I wonder how people got through the barbed wire with no tanks?

I learned that the Germans would separate Jewish people into two groups. In one group were the sick and old, children, and girls. In the other group were men 16 years old and older. The men were sent to work camps where they would literally work until they died. But the other camp the Nazis would test weapons, perform experiments, and torture the Jewish people. 1.6 million children died in concentration camps. 6 million Jewish people died in concentration camps altogether.

I am so thankful for you and many others. I would like to say thank you, but I don't think words are enough.




Dear Mr. John Edgar Langridge,

My name is Abubakr. I’m 10 years old. I go to Terry Fox Elementary School. I am going to be talking about Dieppe, Concentration camps and Adolf Hitler. I’m writing you this letter because I’m so grateful for all that you and your fellow soldiers have done for us Canadians. 

Today I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned about Dieppe. Dieppe happened on August 19th, 1942. Many Canadians did not return. 4,963 Canadian soldiers went to Dieppe and only 2,210 soldiers returned to England. Also, there were many injuries involved. Of the 4,963 Canadians who went to Dieppe, 3,367 were injured. Did any of your close friends pass away during this battle?

I also learned about Concentration camps and how horrible Jewish people were treated. Approximately 6 million Jewish people were killed at the concentration camps. One of the worst concentration camps was named Auschwitz. The Jewish people died from food poisoning, hunger, and hate. How big were the concentration camps?

Finally, I learned about Adolf Hitler and all of the terrible things he did. Hitler took over Germany and almost the whole of Europe, while he was the leader of Germany. Adolf Hitler blamed the Jewish people for starting World War ll. He killed approximately 6 million Jewish people. Hitler committed suicide when he realized he couldn’t win World War ll for the mistake he made when he split his army team in half and didn’t have enough people. Did you ever see Adolf Hitler?

In conclusion, thank you Mr. Langridge for all that you and your fellow soldiers did for us. I wouldn’t be in the same world today if you guys didn’t risk your lives for us. There is no way I can thank you enough for all you and your fellow soldiers have done.




Dear Mr Douglas David Bradford,

Born 1919. Died 1942.

Service # 942426

My name is Seamus and I'm 10 years old. I want to tell you what I learned about Dieppe. I can't believe you decided to fight in WWII. You are really brave.

When the Canadians arrived at the beach they came out of landing crafts. The Canadians were running towards people who wanted to kill them! On the beach there was razor wire, barbed wire, bombs and bunkers with Germans shooting machine guns out of them. What was your training like? Was it hard?

Were you very nervous? I bet a lot of the soldiers were scared. We learned that big warships fired at the beach to create smoke so the Germans would have trouble seeing the Canadians. I also learned that one of the only ways to blow up a bunker was to run across the beach, then climb a cliff without them seeing you, then you had to throw a grenade into a bunker. I also learned that when soldiers got off the landing craft they had to swim onto the beach and get through all the barbed wire and razor wire and mortar rounds! If I was on the beach I would be very scared.

So I thank you so much. If you had not done this I would not be here now. I don't know how to thank you but I'm more grateful than ever to thank you for protecting Canada.




Dear Stanly F. Grandfield

Born 1916-03-23. Death 1944-09-3.

Service # B114196

My name is Spencer. I go to Terry Fox Elementary School and I am writing about WWII for Remembrance Day. 

This is what I learned about Dieppe - 4963 Canadians fought the Germans at Dieppe. It was full sunlight outside and that's when Canadians attacked, but the Germans were prepared with their pill boxes, razor and barbed wire, rifles, mini guns, and cannons. How were you able to retrieve the dead soldiers? 

I also learned about the Holocaust. On Sept. 3, 1939 Germany invaded Poland. Hitler’s Nazis began to kill Jewish people and before the Germans were defeated they had killed about 6 million Jewish people. How many people did Hitler mind control?

I also learned that the USA bombed Japan on August. 6, 1945. The Americans dropped the first ever Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima in Japan. The Japanese did not surender when the bomb was dropped so the Americans dropped another Atomic Bomb in Nagasaki. After that Japan surrendered. How hot is an Atomic Bomb? 

I don’t know how I could repay all of your kindness and the kindness of all the other soldiers who were willing to risk your lives. I don't know how to say thank you but words are not enough.




Dear Mr. Robert William Abrahms 

Born May 30, 1924 Death. March 6, 1945.

Service # J9524


My name is Robbie and I’m 10 years old. I go to Terry Fox Elementary School. I’m writing to you because I am learning about WWll and about Dieppe, Juno beach, and the Holocaust. I can’t believe you would risk your lives for us and just walk towards your death. It’s like suicide!

At Dieppe, Canada's soldiers formed the main assault force. Of the 4963 Canadians who went to Dieppe, only 2210 returned back to England, and many were wounded. The raid on Dieppe started on the 19th of August, 1942. There was a lot of barbed wire in Dieppe. Did you participate in the raid on Dieppe?

On Juno beach, by June 1944 the allies were ready to invade France. On June 6th 1944, the Canadian Division and the second Canadian Armored Brigade landed in Normandy with more than 150,000 Allied troops! The area of the invasion was defended by cement walls, rotating motorized gun turrets, and machine guns. Did you participate in the raid at Juno beach?

The Holocaust, Adolf Hitler wanted all Jewish peple dead, and unfortunately the Nazis killed 6 million Jewish people. Concentration camps were horrible. They tortured, starved, murdered, and experimented on Jewish, gay, lesbian, and trans people. How many people survived Concentration camps?

If Canada didn’t win the war I would be nothing and the world would be VERY different. I can’t thank you enough because it seems words are not enough in war and death.




Dear Mr. Jasper Grieves,

Born 1920. Died 1945.

Service # C406007

I'm Jaxin. I am here because I am SO thankful for heroic Canadian soldiers.

I am am going to tell you what I learned about D-day. I know that everyone was really scared about going into terrible battles, filled with razer and barbed wire with bombs going off ALL the time. I wonder how many soldiers wanted to run away? Were you one OF them? 

Now to tell you about what I learned about THE concentration camps, and how they were terrible to live in. For the meals they were given raw meat in a bowl with water. And you had to sleep on a shelf with no pillow and just a thin blanket. Do you know how the SOLDIERS felt when they found the concentration camps?

Now finally I will tell you about the United States Air Force. They helped to end WWII by dropping 2 Atomic Bombs on Japan. The Atomic Bomb sent out a shockwave that destroyed everthing in its path, creating a mushroom cloud. ARE Canadians associated with making the Atomic Bomb?

I would like to thank you for being one of our HEROES!




Make sure to read all the bold capital words.


Dear Mr. George James Langridge,

Born: 1922, March 10. Died: 1944, April 27.

Service # J90385

I am Raegan, I am 10 years old. I go to Terry Fox Elementary School. I wrote this letter because it is important to learn about Canada’s history and how Canadians and Allies gave their lives to put Canada where we are now. I’d like to tell you about what I’ve learned about World War 2. 

First, I am going to tell you about one of the most deadliest and terrifying events in World War 2’s history, The Holocaust. There were around six-million Jewish people that were killed. The Jews were sent to Concentration Camps where they were worked to death. They were prisoners of war. Adolf Hitler blamed the Jewish people for everything including losing World War 1. It was awful. They were treated poorly and weren’t given nutritious foods. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed by starvation and diseases alone. Do you think many Jewish people were able to sneak out of the camps?

On D-Day, getting to the Germans didn’t sound or look easy. Nothing was easy in the war. I learned that if anybody was too scared to get off the boat, they could be tried in a military court and possibly be in jail for a long time. The Allied force had 7,000 ships and landing crafts. They were from eight allied countries that had nearly 133,000 troops from England, Canada, and the United States. The soldiers were incredibly brave to walk right out onto a beach towards an army of killers. What they did for people living now changed the world. Do you know how many people were killed?

World War II took the lives of roughly 60 million people. Atomic Bombs were very destructive and cost the lives of tens of thousands of people. On August 6, 1945, an American B-29 dropped an Atomic Bomb on a city in Japan called Hiroshima. It killed 80,000 people. Japan insisted on continuing. Then, 3 days later, the Americans dropped another Atomic Bomb on Nagasaki. Japan soon surrendered. That ended World War 2. Do you now if the American B-29 was affected by the bomb?

Words cannot describe how grateful I am for your service and what an incredibly brave thing you did to make peace between everyone.




Dear Mr. Peter Brasseur, 

Born 1915 January 1. Death 1944 August 9.

My name is Landon, I am 10 years old and I go to Terry Fox Elementary school and I wanted to thank you by writing this letter.

I learned that of the 4963 Canadians that went to Dieppe, only 2200 Returned to England, and many were wounded. Also 3350 became casualties of World War 2. Also they had people shooting at you, barbed wire, grenades and artillery. There was a cliff that you had to climb up before you could do anything and they had all their tanks stuck. Did you go to Dieppe and if you did, were you in a tank?

I found out that allies taken prisoner were treated badly and had to walk very long distances and if they survived the walk and did not die of thirst, hunger, or exhaustion they had to work very tough jobs. Many died of being crushed by heavy things they had to carry, exhaustion or drowning. If they did not die by those things you probably would die of thirst or hunger because they didn't get enough food either. Were you a prisoner of war? 

I was educated that when WWII started the Canadian Navy only had 15 warships and by the time the war was over we had 365 ships making our Navy the third largest Navy in the world. The Canadian Navy also protected cargo ships delivering food and materials to Great Britain because the Germans were attacking, especially when the Atlantic battle started. A lot of Germans attacked the cargo ships with submarines and blew some up so they needed to be protected.

I would never be brave enough to go to war. How did you build up enough courage and bravery to risk your life for people you don’t know even know? Even after you knew what happened in WWI? I honestly cannot thank you enough for what you did for strangers.




Dear Mr. Roland Edward Brault,

Born-06-26-1922. Died-05-07-1944.

Service # V4427

My name is Zen. I’m 9 years old. I go to Terry Fox Elementary School. I am writing this letter because I am thankful for Canadian soldiers. I can’t believe you would go to war for us.

I am going to tell you about what I learned about Dieppe. Canadians were the main assault. They were going to attack the Nazis on the coast of France in Normandy. Around 5,000 Canadians took part, but only 2,200 returned. Dieppe was like walking to your death. The plan was to attack before dawn, but everything was late. The Allies attacked in the sunlight right before the waiting Nazis. The Dieppe raid was really tough. The Germans would shoot toward you. Landmines and barbed wire were everywhere. How would you get past the barbed and razor wire?

German pillboxes were really stiff and protected. They had two feet of concrete on the walls, roof and floor. Not even a bomb could break a pillbox! It would have a metal door to get in and out. There also would’ve been a small opening for the Germans to aim their guns through and shoot. The only way to shoot the soldiers inside is to shoot right through the small hole, which was almost impossible. The Germans hid in these pillboxes during Dieppe. Also you could creep below the pillboxes and throw a grenade inside. But that is also almost impossible. Is it even possible to explode a bunker?

Hitler blamed everything on the Jewish people. He would capture them from their homes and send them to concentration camps. The nazis built over 44,000 concentration camps. Concentration camps had barbed wire around the whole entire building, so no one could escape. Also at concentration camps Jewish people had to work all day long with very little food which was watery soup. They would get abused and tortured. This is the called the Holocaust. It started in 1933 and ended in 1945. Dduring that time 6 million Jewish people died. Why did Hitler blame everything on the Jewish people?

I am thankful for the bravery of the soldiers from Canada. If you didn’t go to war the world would’ve been very different. I can’t thank you enough.




Dear Mr. Albert Joseph Abram,

Born July 11, 1920. Died July 20, 1944. 

Service # D131222

My name is Leah and I go to Terry Fox Elementary School. I am 10 years old and in the 5th grade. I am writing this letter to you about WWII and the horrible things that happened in it.

First I will tell you about what I learned about concentration camps. Concentration camps were even worse than Residential Schools and that just tells you how bad concentration camps were. They would starve all the Jewish people who were there until their own bodies were so skinny they looked like living skeletons. When the Jewish people died, they would dig big holes and put all the bodies in the hole. 

Next I will talk to you about Adolf Hitler. He is a very, very bad man and he is the reason that concentration camps were made. I learned that even pregnant Jewish women were not safe from Hitler. Same with gay people or people who identified as a diffrent gender. Adolf Hitler committed suicide when he knew the Nazis would not win the war.

The third thing I'm going to tell you about is D-Day. On June 6,1944 D-Day started. Allied troops crossed the English channel and were able to set up bases to protect them from Germany. If I was in the middle of D-Day I would be screaming for my life and I would stand beside my Dad and Brother. I think you are so brave to fight on D-Day.

I think you are awesome. I am so grateful for all the things you have done for me and my country.




To Leopold Alvin Ingram, 

My name is Olivia and I go to Terry Fox Elementary School. I am writing this letter because I am grateful for all of the soldiers that thought of us before themselves. 

Why would boys and girls be separated in concentration camps? 1.6 million jewish kids were killed by the Nazis. Concentration camps are horrible. Young boys had to go to work camp and young girls, old people, and sick people had to go to death camp.

The guards would not care if they are dead or alive. When were concentration camps made, and why? Why were the Nazis so evil?

I am very grateful to live in Canada and have a caring family. I am also thankful for the soldiers who fought to the death for us. They didin’t even know us and they never will. I want to say thank you, but I don't think words are enough.




Dear Jack Grogan, 

My name is Marley. I am 9 years old and I go to Terry Fox Elementary School. In class we are learning about WW2. I have learned about Dieppe, Concentration Camps and D-Day.

When you got to Dieppe how did you survive? How did you survive all the bullets and grenades and all the landmines? How did you get through all the barbed wire and razor wire? Were you in the RCAF? Were you a general? Did you go on a destroyer to Dieppe? Were you a Marine?

In the concentration camps, 6 million people died. How many people did you save from the concentration camps? Before we learned about WWII this year we learned about Residential Schools. I am sad to learn about so many bad things happening to humans.

On June 6, 1944 D-Day happened. It included more than 6000 ships and 13,000 aircraft.

I am writing this to you because if you didn’t go to WWII I wouldn’t be here writing to you right now. I don't know how to say this, but words are not enough.




Dear Mr. Gerard Louis Joseph,

Born: February 27, 1910

Death: July 27, 194

Hello, my name is Jason, I go to Terry Fox Elementary school. I learned about Canadian troops did in world war 2. I would not be here today if you did not fight in such a terrible war.

I learned about Dieppe and that soldiers left their homes to go fight for our country. The Germans were ready for the Canadians, and the Canadians were going to use tanks for cover but the beach was made out of tiny rocks and the tanks stopped working. There were bombs everywhere, bullets whizzing by your face, and friends and family dying right before your eyes. And sadly out of 4963 soldiers only 2200 survived. The raid of Dieppe started in 1942. There was so much barbed wire the Canadians could not get through it. Were you a soldier in Dieppe?

I also learned about concentration camps. The Germans took Jewish people away just because they were Jewish. The Nazis made the Jewish people starve. The trains they went on were so claustrophobic that people passed out, and died all from the heat or cold. People in concentration camps were living skeletons from hunger and thirst. The Nazis did not care if the Jewish people died. They fed the Jewish people watery soup, they had food but the food probably made them sick. Did you anyone in a concentration camp?

I learned about the most horrible person I've ever heard of. He was the leader of the terrible Nazis: Adolf Hitler. He gassed, killed and tortured Jewish people. Hitler wanted all Jewish people dead and his Nazis helped him. Adolf Hitler started a deadly war. Hitler hid in concrete bunkers with his Nazis. When Adolf Hitler knew he was losing he committed suicide. Did you ever see Hitler?

l am so grateful for what you have done. It takes a lot of bravery and courage to do what you did. People take things for granted but you made my country free and that means so much. Words can not express what you have done for our country.




Dear Mr. Albert A. Granger

Born February 28, 1922. Died December 19, 1941.

Service # Ll37000

My name is Owen. I’m 10 years old and I go to Terry Fox Elementary school. I’m writing to you to share what I learned about The Treaty of Versailles, The Holocaust, and Dieppe. I am so thankful for the things you and other soldiers did in the war.

 I learned that the Treaty of Versailles ended WWI. It made Germany admit that they caused the war. Germany had to give money to countries they fought and give back land. The treaty left Germany poor, wrecked and without hope. A new leader called Adolf Hitler thought that the Treaty was unfair. He stopped giving back money and started to take back land. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. Did you know this about the Treaty of Versailles before you went to war?

The Holocaust was a terrible thing that Hitler did. He forced Jewish men into concentration camps where they were worked to death. Nazis starved them and the food they got was horrible and could have made them sick. Jewish women, elders, sick people and kids were sent to different concentration camps called death camps. They used them for experiments and didn’t care if they died. They probably did other horrible things to them. Did you know that Germany was doing this? If you did, do you have any Jewish family members that hod to go to a work or death camp?

I learned that Dieppe took place in Normandy, France on August 19, 1942. The plan was to land before sunrise. But everything was late. Canadians arrived in full sunlight to waiting Nazis. Tanks got stuck on rocks so soldiers had to run through barbed and razor wire. Nazis were at the top of a cliff in bunkers shooting at soldiers. To get to the bunkers you had to climb a cliff but Nazis would have shot you down. Out of the 4963 Canadian soldiers that fought in Dieppe only 2,210 returned to England. Did you have any friends or family in the war? If you did, do you know if any of them went to the battle of Dieppe?

I am so thankful for the things the Canadian soldiers did in the war because if they didn’t I might not be here today and the world would be different. To me, saying thank you isn’t enough for the things soldiers did.




Dear Mr. John Mark, 

Born December 14, 1920. Death August 19, 1942.

Service # B3732

My name is Emily and I am 10 years old. I go to Terry Fox Elementary School. I wrote this letter because soldiers gave up their lives to allow us to go to school and learn safely.

The first thing I learned was about The Treaty of Versailles and that Germany was left poor, wrecked and without hope. A new leader came to power in Germany. His name was Adolf Hitler. He thought that the Treaty of Versaille was unfair. He stopped Germany from giving away money to other countries, and began to take back land. How powerful was Hitler?

Adolf Hitler wanted to do something else, as well as take back land. He wanted to kill every Jewish person in Europe. It was called the Holocaust. What Hitler did to the Jewish people of Europe was horrible. Over 6 million Jewish people were murdered during World War 2. Why did Hitler kill lots of Jewish people?

Eventually, on August 6, 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb ever on the city of Hiroshima in Japan. The destruction was horrible. Japan however continued to fight. Then three days later, on August 9, 1945, America dropped another atomic bomb on the city Nagasaki. Japan realized that there was no hope. On September 2, 1945, Japan surrendered. Why did Japan continue to fight when they knew they were going to lose? 

I am really thankful that soldiers gave up their lives to provide for us. I don’t know if this is enough but I wanted to say thank you to the soldiers who fought for Canada during WWII.




Dear Ewalt Brandt

Born 1917/04/24. Death 1944/06/10

Service #M101303

Hello, I’m Endi. I’m from Terry Fox Elementary School. I’m writing this letter because you fought in World War 2 and were very brave but you passed away. In this letter, I’m going to talk about the Treaty of Versailles, Germany, and World War 2

I learned that the Treaty of Versailles was a legal agreement between countries which ended World War One. What happens if you break a treaty? 

Germany is the one who started WWI and WWII, but lost in both wars. Hitler was the one who started World War Two and did bad things. Over 6 million people died because they were Jewish in WWII. What happened to Germany after the war? 

World War Two started on September 1, 1939, and ended on September 2, 1945, and an estimated 40 million to 50 million people died in the war. How many Canadians died in the war?

You died for someone you didn't even know. You died to give us our freedom. You died for our country and us. Thank you is not enough but you are always in my heart. 




Dear Mr. David Stanly Brandner,

Born 1913-12-11. Death 1944-06-10.

My name is Ryker. I am 10 years old and I go to Terry Fox Elementary school. I am writing to you because I am so thankful for what you did.

At Dieppe, or “Operation Jubilee”, the Canadians were landing ate and all of the Nazis were awake and waiting for them. 4963 Canadians were part of Dieppe. Only 2200 returned to England. Many were wounded. Were you part of the people that went to Dieppe?

 The Treaty of Versailles ended WW1 because all of the country leaders said that Germany started WW1. Hitler said that we do not have to give you money and land anymore because German people were getting poorer and then WW2 started. 66 representatives were at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Did you see the Treaty of Versailles? 

On June 6, 1944 Canada, Britain and the USA were all a part of D-day. Canada was on Juno beach, the Americans were on Utah and Omaha, and Britain was on Gold and Sword. In the first 24 hours more than 9000 people died! The battle ended on June 30, 1944. D-day was in Normandy, France.

Thank you for all the stuff that you did for the country and people that you will never meet. No matter the age you live to see everyone is calling you a hero because of the stuff you did for them. Everyone can not repay you for what you did for the country.




Dear Mr. Stuart Willoughby,

I am Sawyer. I am 10 years old. I go to Terry Fox Elementary school. I am writing this letter to you because I am so thankful for all of your bravery.

Today I am going to tell you what I learned about Dieppe. Dieppe was very late. It was supposed to be at dusk but it happened in the middle of the day and the Germans were ready. Canadians were the main assault force at Dieppe. Of the 4963 Canadians only 2200 came back. The Allied War Ships would shoot and when the artillery explodede it would give off smoke to protect the soldiers. Did the smoke help protect you?

I learned about concentration camps. The old, sick, women, and kids would go to death camps and the men go to work camps. The Nazis would work you to death and feed you one rotten meal a day. When all the people died they would dig a huge hole and put all the bodies in the hole. How many open pit graves did you find?

We learned about the Nazis. The Nazis were a powerful force and led by Adolf Hitler. They wanted every Jewish person to die, that's why they made concentration camps. They split into 2 armies and attacked the Soviet Union then they had to retreat back to Germany. Hilter got scared and killed himself. 

I am so thankful for what you did. There is no word that can tell you how thankful I am but I hope this can.