‘I’m sure of one thing. I was no hero and I was scared.’
He is a Second World War veteran who says he’s no hero.
He’s also been a very active member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 26, in Truro, for the past 47 years and recently was presented with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
“I guess I received it mostly for the work I did over the years at the legion,” said 88-year-old Ernie Hingley of Salmon River. “I was quite surprised when I heard about it. I felt good that I was wanted and I felt thankful to the people who supported me.”
“When I think back to all those years doing maintenance and repairs to the legion building I think of Bus Bilby, Stan MacMillian, Willis Sittal and others who were always willing to help out. We looked after the heating, plumbing, renovations and everything. A lot of days we’d go in at 8 a.m. and work right through until suppertime.”
Born in Kemptown in 1925, Hingley was one of 16 children. He left school at age 11 to work in the woods.
“One day in 1941, Maynord Wilson, Bill Boyce and I decided to go to Halifax to join the Canadian Army,” he recalled. “The war was on and we wanted to help. It was October, 1942 that I went overseas in an old cattle boat called the Acatania.
During the invasion of Sicily in 1943, Hingley spent “a week or so” in hospital after being wounded by shellfire.
“I’m sure of one thing,” he said. “I was no hero and I was scared.”
Returning to action, Hingley served with the First Canadian Army Transport Service Corp and took part in the invasion of France.
“There are war memories that stick out in my mind,” he said. “I lost eight good friends and I had a lot of close calls. I have wondered sometimes over the years why some of us got to live through close calls while others were killed.”
After the war, Hingley married Helen Burard of Saskatoon in 1947 and raised one daughter. After Helen’s death, he married a widow, Sylvia Gorman, in 1983.
Hingley was also a well-known contractor in the Truro area for 50 years before retiring in the late 1980s.
One of his projects was a large residential development in the Miller Road area of Salmon River. He built about 20 houses and named William Street after his father, Susan Court after his mother and Virginia Avenue after his daughter.
“A lot of work went into that development,” Hingley said. “I kept pretty busy and I worked lots of evenings and weekends. When others were going fishing I would be working. But I never had any regrets, I enjoyed learning something new every day as I went along.”
Jean Marie Deveaux, president of the Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command of the Royal Canadian Legion, presented Hingley with the medal with Ron Trowsdale, first vice-president of the command, assisting.
“Our aim is to serve our veterans and their dependants,” Trowsdale said. “Ernie Hingley, a Second World War veteran, is first and foremost a fine example now serving our veterans and making certain their needs are met.
“Ernie, as a young man, left his family and went overseas to serve his country. He put his life on the line for all of us.”
Trowsdale said that we owe veterans such as Hingley for the freedom and lifestyle we enjoy today.
These days, Hingley keeps busy plowing snow around his own property, socializing at the food court at the Truro Mall, reading books on war history and watching military programs on television.
He also enjoys dropping in to see his friends at the legion as well as quiet time at home with Sylvia.
TAGLINE: Lyle Carter’s column appears every Tuesday in the Truro Daily News. if you have a column idea, contact him at 673-2857.