The Military Museums

Jarvis and Thomas Milner

Jarvis and Thomas Milner had very different experiences during the war.

Jarvis and Thomas Milner

Jarvis and Thomas Milner had very different experiences during the war.

Jarvis and Thomas Milner

Jarvis Milner

Jarvis Milner grew up in Turner Valley, Alberta and worked in the oil fields their while going to school. He joined the 2nd Battalion Calgary Highlanders soon after war broke out in Europe, but soon left to work in Trinidad to help with oil production for the British Air Ministry.

Jarvis was in charge of all inter-connecting pipelines between the new refinery project and the existing plants. As the war progressed, Germany U-boats periodically shelled the petroleum facilities and food supplies were at times short.

In June 1944, Jarvis was prepared to join the Canadian Navy, but was sent to Fort McMurray instead to assist the Federal Government in construction and production of the small Abasand Refinery to increase petroleum supplies for the war effort. This was the first refinery to use Athabasca oil sands.

In June 1945, the plant was destroyed by fire and the Government abandoned the project. Jarvis worked at a refinery in Lethbridge until the war ended in August 1945.

Thomas Milner

Thomas Milner was a Sergeant with the 10th Canadian Infantry Brigade during the Second World War. In April 1945, Thomas and his unit were involved in decisive action during the Allied drive into Germany.

Thomas's armoured unit found itself pinned down by a German anti-tank squad with machine guns and Panzerfausts firing from strongly defended positions inside the wood.

Realizing the difficulty of clearing the enemy without infantry support, Sgt Miner withdrew his tanks out of range of the anti-tank weapons and engaged the enemy positions with intense direct fire from his own guns, indirect fire from a supporting squadron and a regiment of field artillery. He then launched a second attack under this covering fire but was again driven off by the heavy enemy fire which had not been reduced by the artillery concentration.

As it was impossible to advance in tanks until the Panzerfausts were eliminated, Sgt Milner ordered his tanks to provide covering machine gun fire while he went forward alone on foot carrying a shell casing full of petrol, a Verey pistol and some phosphorus grenades.

Moving directly under the supporting fire, he worked his way to the closest trench, poured the petrol into it and ignited it with the Verey pistol and a grenade. Two of the enemy immediately surrendered. Using these two as a screen, Sgt Milner moved on towards the other enemy positions. Almost immediately, the remaining enemy either surrendered or ran back out of the woods.

Within a matter of minutes Sgt Milner and his troop captured twenty German paratroops and moved on through the woods without loss of a man. The magnificent gallantry and leadership displayed by this NCO in the face of fanatical opposition undoubtedly enabled his troop to clear a position that could easily have delayed the advance of his entire regiment until infantry support could be obtained.

His initiative and complete disregard for personal safety were inspirational to all ranks in his regiment. For this brave action, Thomas was awarded the DCM.

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