October 22, 1920 – April 28, 2010
James Gerrard, beloved father of Greg Gerrard and grandfather of Anna and Oliver Gerrard, passed away peacefully in Calgary on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at the age of 89 years, of natural causes.
James was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England on October 22, 1920 and immigrated to Red Deer, Canada in 1926, with his mother, sister and brother joining their father who had arrived in 1923.
As a member of the militia he was called to service in September 1939 when war was declared. He became an early recruit of the newly formed 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion in 1942, training at Shilo, Manitoba and Fort Benning, Georgia. The Battalion was transferred to England in early 1943 and trained at Ringway before moving to Bulford. Serving in Battalion Headquarters he jumped into Normandy with the 6th British Airborne and 1st Canadian Para Battalion on the night before D-Day, landing in France hours before the beach assault.
Wounded twice, he served in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany before his unit met up with the Russians at Weismar stopping their advance on Denmark. After returning to Canada he commanded the guard at the POW trial in Medicine Hat before returning to Calgary and taking his discharge.
James worked at Lincoln Park Air Base and Curry Barracks as a civilian employee before joining the Calgary Herald in a variety of jobs before retirement in 1985. He was an active member of the Army Navy and Air Force Veterans Club.
James was predeceased in 1998 by his wife of fifty-two years, Susanna Engel, who he met at the Red Deer Army Base when she served with the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. James is also survived by his brother Horace Gerrard of Victoria; his sister Betty Kennedy of Calgary; his sisters-in-law, Bett Gerrard of Calgary, Rose Gerrard of Edmonton, Louise (Gordon) Fisher of Airdrie, Alma and Pauline Engel of Hanna, and Clara Bogner of Didsbury; and brothers-in-law, Frank Chapman of Calgary, Albert (Bernice) Engel of Calgary, and Carl Engel of Hanna; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
A man who saw the worst of humanity, he was a gentle and charming soul with an offbeat sense of humour and a warm, engaging personality. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.
James requested no service and will be interred in the Field of Honour in Calgary. Forward condolences through www.mcinnisandholloway.com. In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes in James’ honour would be appreciated to the CNIB which had been a source of support to him for many years as he dealt with his war injuries, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, 15 Colonel Baker Place N.E., Calgary, AB T2E 4Z3 Telephone: (403) 261-7219.
In living memory of James Gerrard, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Chapel of the Bells, 2720 CENTRE STREET NORTH Telephone: (403) 276-2296.Print This Obituary & Condolences