November is Remembrance month. As we approach the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, we pause to remember those who gave their today for our tomorrow. We dedicate this post to the lawyers and law students who died during the two world conflicts.
Ontario Lawyers and Law Students Answered the Call of Duty
Over 1,000 members of the Law Society enlisted for active service during World War II. Of these, 32 lawyers and 18 law students never returned home. This year, the Law Society is posthumously calling to the profession the 18 articling students who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in WW II.
These young men put their lives on hold to respond to a greater call; went to war and never returned. By bringing them into the profession, we are giving them and their families what the fates denied them all those years ago.
E. Patrick Shea, LSM, partner with Gowling WLG
The commemorative call is taking place, on November 8, 2017, at Osgoode Hall, in Toronto. Many families of the fallen ones are expected to be present and will receive a book honouring these members of the Ontario legal profession who made the ultimate sacrifice. This book presents the biographies of each of these 18 articling students and of the 32 lawyers who died during WW II. While each of these brave men deserve to be remembered, I reproduce below excerpts from the biography of Maj. Edwin Ronald Bennett. Bennett articled at Gowling prior to enlisting in Active Service.
Maj. Edwin Ronald Bennett
Edwin Ronald “Ron” Bennett was born on May 4, 1917, in Hopewell Cape, New Brunswick, to Capt. Ron Vivian and Elva Inch (Machum) Bennett. He had one brother, Henry Harrison. He was also the nephew of the Rt Hon. Richard Bennett, the 11th Prime Minister of Canada.
Bennett graduated from McGill University with a BA in 1938. He was admitted to the Law Society as a student in September 1938. Bennett articled with the firm Henderson Herridge Gowling & McTavish (now Gowling WLG). He also worked as a law student at McCarthy & McCarthy (now McCarthy Tétrault LLP) in Toronto.
Bennett was serving in the Militia with the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada when he signed-up for Active Service in July 1940. After training in Canada, he was promoted to Lieutenant in January 1941 and eventually to Captain, in England, in August 1943. He went over to France with The Black Watch in early July 1944.
In the first week in France, The Black Watch sustained heavy casualties. The Regiment lost its Commanding Officer, all of its Company commanders and the majority of the senior Non-commissioned officers. Going into battle, Bennett was one of the only 6 remaining officer with combat experience.
On August 5, 1944, in the midst of Operation Spring (aimed at capturing Verrières Ridge in Normandy), The Black Watch, with Bennett in command of “D” Company, headed down the road to May-sur-Orne without fire support. As the Black Watch got within 100 yards of the town, the enemy opened fire. Bennett’s Company was pinned down in the ditch on one side of the road by heavy enemy fire.
Bennett was killed by an enemy mortar round. He was 27 years old.
His brother was killed only days later, at Falaise in Normandy, on August 14, 1944. They are both buried at the Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, in Calvados. There is a memorial to the Bennett brothers in the River View Cemetery in Hopewell Cape, New Brunswick and the Bennett Building at Mount Allison University is named in their honours.
When you go Home, tell them of us and say,
For your Tomorrow, we gave our Today
John Maxwell Edmunds
The Great War Law Student Memorial
The Great War Law Student Memorial project is spearheaded by Patrick Shea, a lawyer at Gowling. This project led, in 2014, to the honorary call of 58 student members of the Law Society killed in WWI. This year, the 18 law students killed in WWII are being added to the roll.
Patrick Shea was awarded the Law Society Medal for his work in connection with the Great War Law Student Memorial.