Michael “Mike” BrunnerSee Full Bio
Brunner’s parents are German-speaking Hungarians. They immigrated to Canada when Brunner was five in the late 1920s. Growing up in Montreal, he is fluent in English and German. Brunner is relieved to join the military in 1943 after being raised in a poor, working class neighbourhood in Montreal, hit hard by the Depression.
He becomes a rifleman in the reformed C Company that had been destroyed during the Dieppe Raid in 1942, and is transferred to the sniper platoon to undergo sniper training just before the battalion head for France, proving himself a crack shot. Landing on July 6th with Jim Wilkinson, Dale Sharpe and the rest of the regiment, he is placed in reserve for the first few major battles where he witnesses the bloody debacle at Verrières Ridge. On burial duty following the battle, he, Sharpe and Wilkinson are amongst the few survivors from the original regiment left to rebuild the battalion.
His German language skills become invaluable when the regiment enters the Netherlands and Germany. Brunner is sent out on patrols to creep up and listen in on enemy conversations – reporting back what he hears to his superiors. His fluency in German also makes him the Regiment’s unofficial translator during prisoner interrogations. Brunner becomes fast friends with Jim Bennett. Bennett, the good-looking ladies' man enlists Brunner’s help in chatting up Dutch girls. However, it isn’t all work for Brunner! Despite the casualties the regiment endured, Brunner comes through the war in one piece – all the more remarkable considering the fact he was with the regiment from its earliest engagements.Close
Jim “Hook” WilkinsonSee Full BioWilkinson, like Brunner, is also raised in a working class neighbourhood of Montreal. The son of a First World War Black Watch veteran, he joins the Regiment in April 1940 as soon as he is old enough to enlist. His mother tries to stop him. But his father – despite living through the horrors of WWI – knows it’s futile to try to dissuade the boy. He will have to experience for himself what war is like.
“Hook” as everyone calls him because of his big nose, arrives in England in June 1940 and is then tasked with helping to found the regiment’s sniper platoon. Landing with the Battalion on July 6th, Hook witnesses their early engagements at the Orne River and Verrières Ridge – where the slaughter takes place. He survives because the snipers are with the Support Company and held in reserve.During the Battle of the Scheldt the snipers start coming into their own; Wilkinson organizes the men on patrols into the water-clogged and muddy wilderness and executes dangerous but essential intelligence gathering operations.
Just after Christmas in 1944, while on a dangerous scouting patrol with Dale Sharpe in German territory, Wilkinson is shot twice in the leg. Unable to move, he is saved only due to the heroism of Dale Sharpe who carries him on his shoulders to safety. Wilkinson is pulled out of the line and returns to England, then Canada to recover. Close
Bernard “Jimmy” BennettSee Full BioAs a rifleman in C Company, Jimmy Bennett is smack dab in the middle of the hell at Verrières Ridge and witnesses the massacre. He is one of only twenty survivors of the horror that befell the regiment at Verrières Ridge and recalls vividly the sights, sounds and smells of the battle. He volunteers for scout/sniper platoon shortly after the battle; remaining there for the duration of his active service.
While serving with the regiment through the battle of the Scheldt and the beginning of the Liberation of the Netherlands, Bennett and Brunner became best friends. They often were paired up on patrol together and Bennett’s Dean Martin looks and affable charm make him popular with the Dutch women, turning him into something of a ladies man. He often took advantage of Brunner’s language skills to charm the ladies of Europe.
Bennett owes his life to Brunner after being wounded on patrol in the spring of 1945. He is taken out of the line for treatment and finishes the war in an English hospital, returning home to his family in Saskatchewan. Close
Russell “Sandy” SandersonSee Full BioSanderson is typical of the new regiment’s reinforcements. The Niagara Falls local is young, inexperienced. However, what he doesn’t have in experience he makes up for in eagerness and daring.
Sanderson also volunteers to join the scout/sniper platoon after joining the Battalion in September 1944 just before the Battle of the Scheldt in Belgium and Holland. Dale Sharpe takes him under his wing, training him on what it means to be a sniper--using German soldiers for target practice. Sandy quickly forms a tight bond with the other members of the platoon and fights with the regiment until the end of the war. He builds a reputation as a ruthless and deadly sniper. In an action typical of his bravado, he captures a remarkable 25 Germans singlehandedly in the final weeks of the war. Nineteen days before the end of the war, Sanderson drinks some poisoned wine the Germans left behind in Groningen and winds up in a field hospital. He returns home to Niagara Falls after the war. Close
Dale SharpeSee Full Bio
Sharpe grew up in Corbyville, Ontario and is as a truck driver for the local distillery when he marries Zelma ‘June’ in 1938. They have two children, Dale Jr, and Teddy, with a third on the way. In 1943 at age 25, Dale volunteers to join the fight overseas.
Sharpe is an avid hunter, and is a natural fit for the Black Watch sniper/scout platoon. Being several years older than the other soldiers around him, he quickly becomes a father-figure, teaching the new recruits the skills they will need to survive the war. He survives the massacres of Verrières Ridge and the Schelt, leading his men with patience and compassion. On December 27th, 1945 while on patrol with Jim “Hook” Wilkinson, he single-handedly takes out a German ambush and carries a wounded Wilkinson on his back, to safety. In April of 1945, just a month before the end of the war in Europe, Dale is hit with shrapnel in Laren, Netherlands. He succumbs to his injuries and is buried in the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands.
In May of 2015, Ted Sharpe visited his father’s grave in Groesbeek for the first time in his life, and despite having only known his father for two years, he still considers his father his hero.Close