Lost — but never forgotten

By on November 8, 2017
Ken Moyes was a sergeant with the Royal Westminister Regiment during WWII. He passed away at the age of 93 in December of 2016. (Ian Webster/Herald)

 

This year marks the first Remembrance Day members of the Moyes family will be without their father Ken Moyes — a Nicola Valley veteran of the Second World War who passed away last December at the age of 93.

“We’ll be thinking of dad that day,” said his son Peter Moyes.

“In the last three or four years many people in the community would come up to me after November 11 and say that they were glad to see me with my dad, and that there’s hardly anyone from that age group left,” Peter said.

“I can’t believe he’s not going to be there,” said daughter Jayne.

Last year was the first time the soldier and long-time Legion member wasn’t able to attend the ceremony for Remembrance Day at the Merritt Cenotaph.

“Last year was, in my lifetime, the first Nov. 11 that he hasn’t been at the cenotaph,” said his son Peter.

But his family brought Remembrance Day to him that year, said Jayne, adding that they enjoyed muffins and tea at Gillis House and he watched the ceremony in Ottawa on T.V. with his grand kids.

Remembrance Day was always important to his a father, Peter recalled.

“Growing up, it was a big part of his life. There was no missing Nov. 11. That wasn’t even on the table,” Peter said.

Recalling Remembrance Days from his childhood when the cenotaph was at the old courthouse, Peter said his father would encourage his four children to reflect on what that day meant.

Moyes began his career in the Canadian Armed Forces in November of 1940. Canada was at war as part of the allied forces and Moyes decided to join up.

From 1940 to 1945 he served with the Royal Westminster Regiment.

“We became a motorized infantry unit in the Fifth Armoured Division,” Moyes told the Herald in an interview back in 1995.

In November of 1943 the regiment set sail for Algiers, North Africa. After a short trip by train and old First World War personnel carriers, Moyes set sail across the Mediterranean landed at Naples, the article stated.

“We fought there at various locations until Feb. 1945,” said Moyes, who by that time had been promoted to sergeant.

“Our first major battle was at the Melfa River. The first division broke the Hitler line there and after they broke the Hitler line we went through and formed a bridge head there.

“My best friend was killed that day,” he said.

In another interview with the Herald in 2013 Moyes recalled the objective he had in that battle as he fought as a ground soldier alongside tanks.

“Push the enemy back,” said Moyes.

Ken Moyes, accompanied by his son Peter Moyes (right), seldom missed the opportunity to pay respects to his fellow veterans — at Remembrance Day ceremonies, or regiment reunions. (Ian Webster/Herald).

Moyes was never seriously injured during the war. The only injury he sustained was from a piece of shrapnel that struck him in the back but didn’t break the skin.

“I was just lucky more than anything,” he said in 1995.

Speaking to the Herald earlier this week, Peter and Jayne had smiles on their faces while recalling memories of their father, such as the tank he had in the garage or the memberships in the Legion he purchased for his kids — unbeknownst to them until they were called for a renewal.

One thing that inspired Peter about his dad during his childhood was his generosity towards his fellow soldiers.

“It seemed like every five years or so, one of his old army buddies, who had fallen on some hard times, would show up and the next thing you know they’re living in the basement and dad’s providing them jobs,” said Peter. “Sometimes they’d be there for a month and sometimes for a couple of years. Whatever relationship he had with his fellow regiment guys he had to be a leader to them because a lot of them showed up for his guidance over the years.”

Ken also always made sure to attend an annual reunion of the Westminster Regiment to reconnect with his fellow soldiers.

“He went every year to that,” said Jayne, adding that he only missed the past two meetings.

Like many veterans, their father didn’t speak much about his service during the war.

“I would say soldiers like my dad, definitely my dad, never talked about it,” said Jayne, adding that she learned a little bit about her his experience from her own research.

“If he ever said anything, when I tried to talk to him deeply about it, he said they were pretty scared.”

A leader through and through, Ken became heavily involved with the Rocky Mountain Ranger cadets in the Merritt area during the 50s and 60s.

“We were proud of that and proud of him,” said Peter.

Every summer their father would attend the Rocky Mountain Rangers cadet camp in Vernon as an instructor.

Ken Moyes, who was born and raised in Merritt spent most of his life here, marrying his wife Mary of 50 years and raising a family after the war.

“The only time he was really away was during the war years,” said Peter.

He was a member off the Legion for more than 70 years, Moyes and was involved in many other organizations including the golf course, curling rink, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce and Masons Club.

A prominent developer and real estate agent in town, Moyes was instrumental in getting mortgage lenders to approve the first mortgages in Merritt, which resulted in unprecedented growth.

Moyes received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

Members of his family will once again be in attendance at the cenotaph this year to place a well-deserved wreath at the base of the memorial for this father, husband, soldier and community builder who called the Nicola Valley home.

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