WINNIPEG — A family in Manitoba is sharing the final heartfelt letter sent home by a 23-year-old Second World War veteran who died overseas.
Private Melvin C. Smith grew up on a farm in a small community in central Manitoba called McCreary.
He was visiting Trail, B.C. to see one of his 10 older siblings when he decided to enlist in the military.
Two years before his death on May 4, 1945, he gave his sister a letter to give to his mom, “should necessity arise.”
The letter reads:
Dear Mum and all: Just a line to let you know all is fine; am well, and hope this finds you all the same. Well Mum, here is my thought and what I think of fighting for Canada and also what I think of my home.
Let every Canadian fight to the last drop of blood in his body. Let him keep the golden fields and the busy streets clean and fresh and let him keep the air he breathes free from the stench of Nazism. I have no regrets of dying. Give this message to my friends and to the people of Canada if it is possible. I would like to thank you Mum and Dad for making my life a very happy one indeed, and for giving me every possible chance in life to make a success of it.
I have no regrets dying for my country; it is a grand country – any man who can call himself a Canadian should be proud to die in the struggle for freedom which I am sure Canada will always have. I am sure that our troops – the lucky ones – will march victorious through the streets of Berlin. I am proud of those brave lads of the Tank Corps with whom I had the honour to fight side by side.
So I will say goodbye and God bless you all. Love, your son, Mel.
Alain Smith, the soldier’s nephew, hopes to carry on his uncle’s legacy.
“I feel very proud of it, to be honest,” he said. “The sad part is he was so young, he was only 23, and he died four days before the end of the war.”
“I just think it’s just such a wonderful letter for somebody so young and to be so patriotic and to let his feeling be known,” said Alain’s wife, Carol.
Alain Smith served in the navy himself, and has been involved with the Naval Museum of Manitoba for 20 years, making the letter extra poignant for him.
“I hope people read it, remember it, never forget it and keep wearing a poppy,” he said.
Private Melvin C. Smith is commemorated at the Holten Canadian War Cemetery in Holland.
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