GIORGIANNI, Corporal Charles Everard (R85802) –
British Empire Medal – RCAF Station Botwood – Award effective 1 January 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 113/44 dated 21 January 1944. Born in Angus, Ontario, 2 December 1918. Home in Barrie, Ontario; enlisted in Toronto, 19 December 1940. DHist File 181.009 D.3061 (RG.24 Vol.20635) has recommendation and correspondence; events happened on 12 August 1943. In the previous winter he had also given good service clearing roads of snow.
“When a dangerous fire broke out in a town in the vicinity of his unit and threatened to become a major conflagration owing to a very high wind, this NCO, in spite of the intense heat, smoke and flying embers, and with no regard for personal safety, repeatedly drove an RCAF bulldozer into the flames, levelling the burning buildings and sheds which made an effective fire break, thereby greatly assisting the fire fighters in bringing the fire under control. The courageous actions of this airman undoubtedly contributed in averting a very serious conflagration resulting in minimizing the damage to property and loss of life.”
Lieutenant Harold (Hal) Mills
Harold Abraham Mills was born at Meaford, Ontario on August 23, 1919. In 1938, he moved to Barrie where he was employed as an auto mechanic. He joined the Grey & Simcoe Foresters Reserve Battalion in 1939 and, in July, 1940 enlisted with the 1st Battalion so that he could qualify to go overseas. While a Forester, he was promoted to sergeant and then lieutenant following officer training.
In 1942, the G&S Foresters were converted from an infantry to an armoured regiment now known as the 26th Army Tank Battalion, Grey & Simcoe Foresters. More training ensued and the Regiment embarked for England in the spring of 1943. A decision to reduce the division to one tank brigade resulted in the breakup of the 26th Army Tank Regiment and Mills was re-assigned to the 1st Hussars Regiment, 6th Armoured Division.
On June 6th, D-Day, Lt. Mills and his tank crew went ashore at Juno Beach as part of the 1st Hussars “B” Squadron. Five days later, Lt. Mills and 60 other members of the 1st Hussars paid the supreme sacrifice when they attacked into a strongly defended enemy area near Le Mesnil-Patry, France. He is buried in the Bretteville-sur-Laize, Canadian War Cemetery.
Pilot Officer Jim Beierl
WW2 veteran Jim Beierl’s picture appeared in the Barrie Examiner last year (2015) following our Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph. He also came to our Legion Hall following the ceremony. In the month following, on Dec. 21, Jim died at Victoria Village with his family by his side.
Jim, pictured here in a photo taken during the war, was born in York Township in what would today be known as part of Toronto. He spent a good portion of his life living in Toronto and Markham.
In 1942 at the age of 18, he joined the RCAF and trained to be a pilot through the British Commonwealth Air Training Program. When he earned his wings, he was posted to Ferry Command to fly bombers to Britain and Africa.
As Jim described in a Year 2000 article, “Although only a few of us fell victim to enemy guns, we constantly faced danger. The aircraft were new, hastily built under wartime pressures and not properly tested so we experienced many mechanical failures. . . The aircraft barely had the range to reach our destination. The weather on the North Atlantic in the winter was terrible with a constant danger of icing. . . (Weather) Forecasting was very unreliable . . . Get a little past halfway and there wasn’t enough fuel to go back.”
That same article described two very close calls for Jim. One was between Greenland and Iceland when he was flying a Mitchell. The plane iced up and became too heavy to fly. When they broke cloud, the sun was out and melted the ice before they flew into the ocean. Another flight saw one engine fail on a B-25 Bomber just past Iceland. With the plane just 50 feet above the ocean, they were able to shed a 500-gallon auxiliary gas tank and make it back to Iceland.
Jim’s daughter, Judith Dyck donated four boxes of Jim’s books to the Barrie Legion – the majority about the British and Canadian airforce during WWII. These books are all quality, non-fiction books that will be treasured reading for our Legion Members. His family also contributed $300 to the Legion as a gift for Legion involvement with his funeral.
Major Stanley Francis Corbeau
Stan Corbeau was born was born in Penetanguishene, Ontario, Feb. 15, 1917. As a young man, he was employed by Ontario Hydro.
He joined the Simcoe Foresters in 1933 as a Private and rose to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in November, 1939. At the outbreak of war in Europe, Corbeau remained attached to the G&SF at Camp Borden through its transition ao the 26th Army Tank Battalion. In October 1942, he was permanently attached to H.Q. 2 Cdn. Army Tank Brigade at Camp Borden and promoted to the rank of Captain. The Brigade, equipped with RAM II tanks, trained at the newly opened Meaford AFV Range. In August, 1943 he went overseas to Bovington, England for training in use of the Duplex Drive Systems for armoured vehicles.
In preparation for the D-Day Invasion, Corbeau worked closely with Maj. Gen. Sir Percy Hobart and the British 79th, in simulation trials, testing and strategies development for armoured vehicle beach landings. On June 6, 1944, Capt. Corbeau landed at Juno Beach, Normandy with the 2nd Canadian Armoured brigade in support of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.
In September, 1944, Corbeau was appointed as, Officer Commanding of the newly formed 1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron which became known as “THE KANGAROOS” and advanced to rank of Major. With Corbeau in command, 1CAPC Squadron, the “Kangaroos” took part in operations to close the ‘Falaise Gap’ and the capture of Le Havre, Boulogne. Calais and the breaching of the Siegfried Line. Prior to the campaign for the liberation of the Netherlands, the Squadron was absorbed into the 1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment where Corbeau continued in command through the liberation of the Netherlands and into Germany. It was during his time as Officer Commanding 1CAPCR, that Major Corbeau received the Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Major Stan Corbeau wore his Kangaroo cap badge at Borden until 1950 when he was transferred to the Royal Canadian Dragoons. He remained active in the Canadian Military until his retirement in 1966.