Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remember George Quist Hansen

I've always have always been drawn to graveyards. I'm not sure why this is. I know most people avoid them and some even feel uncomfortable in them.  I remember being genuinely surprised when Cory told me he too liked them. Since then we have visited many together and even had some of our wedding photos taken at the Union and Burnsland Cemeteries in Calgary.



We love strolling through them, reading the names and wonder what their lives might have been like. We can only wonder as we never knew these people and I guess it's our way of remember those who came before us. That's what Remembrance Day is about; paying tribute to those who made sacrifices for all of us, whether you knew them or not.

As generations pass I think it will become harder and harder for people to remember. As those who survived the major wars pass away, so will some of their stories. Grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on will be further and further removed from the memories of those directly involved in war.

Last week my son was award three scholarships and bursaries from Mount Royal University. One of them was the "Flight Sergeant George Quist Hansen Military Memorial Bursary".  This piqued my interest to learn more about George Hansen. What I found was very limited, but does include two things of (ironically) personal interest.

George died either April 27 or 28, 1944 (depending on the source) during WWII. He was 28 years old and he is buried at Schoonselhof Cemetery in Belgium.

Source

He was a gunner in the Royal Canadian Air Force.  He was in the 431 Squadron and the serial number of his plane was MZ536. This is will be of interest to my son, since his grandfather on his fathers' side was also a gunner in the RCAF. It makes one ponder if they ever crossed paths.

MZ536 was one of four 431 Sqdn Halifaxes lost on this operation. See: LK842; MZ522; MZ529. MZ536 was initially issued to No.432 Sqdn. Airborne 2323 27Apr44 from Croft, tasked to bomb the railway yards. shot down by a night-fighter and reported to have crashed at Trognee (Li_ge), 10 km WSW of Waramme, though burials are reported from Antwerpen-Deurne 30Apr44. Their graves are now located in the Schoonselhof Cemetery. Considering the distance between the reported crash-site and the place of burial, some amendment in respect of the former may be necessary.     Source

Given it was a mission on the evening of April 27 that explains why there are the two dates of death. From another site I discovered he had a wife and was from Standard, Alberta. Since I grew up in the area and attended High School in Standard - it has me wondering if I went to school with one of his descendants.

There is so much we don't know about George Hansen. Where was he born? Did he have children? What kind of man was he?

On this day though, I we don't need answers to those questions.

On this day all we need do is remember that he gave the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. Him and many, many more that we know little of.

It is our duty now to remember what they stood for.

What they all believed in and died for.

Our freedom.

"I DO NOT KNOW YOUR NAME"


I do not know your name, but I know you died

I do not know from where you came, but I know you died



Your uniform, branch of service, it matters not to me
Whether Volunteer or Conscript, or how it came to be
That politicians' failures, or some power-mad ambition
Brought you too soon to your death, in the name of any nation



You saw, you felt, you knew full well, as friend and foe were taken
By bloody death, that your life too, was forfeit and forsaken
Yet on you went and fought and died, in your close and private hell
For Mate or Pal or Regiment and memories never to tell



It was for each other, through shot and shell, the madness you endured
Side by side, through wound and pain, and comradeship assured
No family ties, or bloodline link, could match that bond of friend
Who shared the horror and kept on going, at last until the end



We cannot know, we were not there, it's beyond our comprehension
To know the toll that battle brings, of resolute intention
To carry on, day by day, for all you loved and hoped for
To live in peace a happy life, away from bloody war



For far too many, no long life ahead, free of struggle and pain and the gun
And we must remember the price that was paid, by each and every one
Regardless of views, opinions aside, no matter how each of us sees it
They were there and I cannot forget, even though I did not live it



I do not know your name, but I know you died
I do not know from where you came, but I know you died.



Kenny Martin


Photo by Daliscar






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