Honour the Men and Women who Served our Country.

This week, and on Remembrance Day, we pay our respects to the men and women who served (and continue to serve) in conflicts around the world. On this solemn day, we honour those who sacrificed so much for our freedom.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.” ("For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon – English poet, 1869-1943)

In January of this year, I received an email inquiry from an Afghanistan vet who wanted to purchase a pointillism (dot) painting of a CWAC that I had posted on social media in 2018 for Remembrance Day.

After a few emails, I found out that there was another vet in the family and she, like the woman in the portrait I had painted in 2018, had served in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. I offered to paint the soldier. When I saw the photo of this beautiful woman, I was very excited to paint her and find out more about her.

The client recounts WWII vet's service in his own words.

Doris Turski was the sister of 3 older brothers. All her brothers joined the Army in WW II and served in operations overseas.

One of her brothers, Bill, 1 CDN Para who jumped into Normandy on D Day, was captured and remained a prisoner for the rest of the war.

Doris wanted to serve her country and at 18 she followed her brothers into service.

Young recruit joins the Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWAC).

After completing basic training where she learned to march, fire a weapon, maintain her uniform and equipment, she was posted to then Camp Borden (primarily a training base for the Canadian Forces, located northwest of Toronto, Ontario) to support the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps.

The RCASC was made up of all supporting trades that are the backbone of the military which would include cooks, mechanics, supply of weapons such as bullets, and drivers, etc. Doris was proud of her service supporting the overseas war efforts from Canada.

After the war Doris was released from the CWAC and she used her veteran benefits to go to school. She became a nurse which she proudly did for the remainder of her working life.

Mrs. Doris Turski photographed in 2023, honoured for her service as CWAC.
Mrs. Doris Turski today. Former CWAC.


War medals awarded much later in life.

When I became a part of the family in 2011, I found out that Doris was never presented with any service medals. As a veteran myself, I found this odd. With her permission, in 2011, I applied through Veterans Affairs Canada and sure enough, Doris was owed the war medal 1939-45.

Since receiving her war medal, she has proudly worn it to Remembrance Day ceremonies and other military formal events.

Doris is a true inspiration: she helped to pave the way for  the rights and freedoms that modern women enjoy today. It wasn't until WW II that women could serve in the Canadian Army in a segregated unit with no men.


Reference photo of CWAC Doris Reid (Turski) used with permission.
Reference photo of CWAC Doris Reid (Turski) used with permission.

Ryan (the client) recounts his service in Afghanistan.

Canadian Forces soldier Ryan Gingras in Afghanistan. Photo used with permission.
Canadian Forces soldier Ryan Gingras in Afghanistan. Photo used with permission.

I served in the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) and the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) joining the Canadian Forces in 2001 and retiring medically in 2021 from injuries after my deployment to Afghanistan in 2006.

During my service with 1 RCR, after fighting through Operation Medusa, the largest offensive lead battle for the Canadian Army since WW II, my vehicle, a LAV III (light armoured vehicle), struck an IED (improvised explosive device).  

I completed selection for Conduct After Capture Instructor (CACI) during my posting to CSOR with 1 Special Operations Company (1 SOC),

During my CACI course where I was being taught how to teach others to survive as a PW (prisoner of war) Doris would often joke with me about how the old army was more tough. She would say "well my brother Bill didn't have any training before he was captured by the Germans, but he was strong and smart enough to know what he had to do". 

Special note to Mr. Gingras and Mrs. Turski: Thank you so much for your service and for defending our freedom, something we too often take for granted. Words are never enough.

A Poem for Remembrance Day

"The inquisitive mind of a child."

Why are they selling poppies, Mummy?

Selling poppies in town today.

The poppies, child, are flowers of love.

For the men who marched away.

But why have they chosen a poppy, Mommy?

Why not a beautiful rose?

Because my child, men fought and died

In the fields where the poppies grow.

But why are the poppies so red, Mummy?

Why are the poppies so red?

Red is the colour of blood, my child.

The blood that our soldiers shed.

The heart of the poppy is black, Mummy.

'Why does it have to be black?'

Black, my child, is the symbol of grief.

For the men who never came back.

But why, Mummy are you crying so?

Your tears are giving you pain.

My tears are my fears for you my child.

For the world is forgetting again.

(author unknown)

2 Responses

  • What a wonderful story and so good that you have so much information in regards to this family. I love the poem.

    • The client was very generous in sharing information about his service in Afghanistan as well as giving me information about Mrs. Turski. This was my first commission in 2023, a great way to start the year. Thanks Sally.

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