Cecil Feldman was born in Poland and came to Canada with his parents in 1927.
When war broke out in Europe in 1939, Cecil left school to enlist with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment. At the start of the Italian Campaign in July 1943, the Loyal Edmonton Regiment was involved in the Invasion of Sicily, where at one point the troops borrowed a donkey cart, which Cecil drove to help carry supplies, one of his fonder memories of the war.
After Sicily, the Regiment was sent to Italy where they fought valiantly throughout the Italian Campaign. After this battle the Regiment was sent back to Western Europe where they continued fighting in France, Belgium and Holland before returning to England in 1945.
"Joe", as he was fondly referred to by his comrades, was born in Poland on November 22, 1920. When he was seven, his family immigrated to Canada. Twelve years later in 1939, when war broke out in Europe, Cecil dropped his studies at Victoria High School to serve his country and enlisted with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment.
The Regiment was shipped overseas in mid-December and landed in Aldershot, England on January 1, 1940. During the next three years, Sergeant Feldman was stationed in London and traveled with the Judge Advocate's Unit.
While stationed in London, Cecil met the woman with whom he would spend the rest of his life. On April 11, 1943, Dorothy Keller became Cecil's war bride. Dorothy returned to Canada in November of 1944 and waited for Cecil to join her.
In July of 1943, at the start of the Italian Campaign, the Loyal Edmonton Regiment was transferred to Sicily. They campaigned across Sicily and north through Italy to Avellino. They fought in the Battle of Ortona, where 334 officers and fellow soldiers lost their lives.
The Loyal Edmonton Regiment accounted for a total of 172 casualties, 63 of whom did not return home. After the Battle of Ortona, Sergeant Feldman's troop continued on through France, Belgium and Holland before returning to England in 1945, shortly before the end of the war.
A Happy Reunion
Sergeant Feldman returned to Canada, a decorated soldier. Although he never shared his war experiences with his family, he did have a favourite memory, perhaps one of the very few that he cherished. Cecil had not seen his younger brother Sam for almost five years since the Loyal Edmonton Regiment was shipped overseas in 1939. Sam had also enlisted and was later captured by the Germans while in the service of his country.
After the war had ended and while sleeping on his bunk waiting to be discharged, Cecil dreamt of his brother Sam. He awoke suddenly to find Sam, standing at the foot of his bunk, waiting for him to open his eyes. Unknown to him, Cecil's fellow soldiers had gone out of their way to ensure that the two brothers were reunited.
Cecil was asked what he thought brought him safely home. Without hesitation he offered the following explanation:
"Just before I left home to go overseas, Rabbi Isaac Haft called and asked me to come to his house. I went. He said he wanted to bless me. That's all he wanted. Rabbi Haft's blessing saved me. I came back without a scratch."