PRIVATE JOSEPH SPISAK

Joseph Spisak Jr. was born in Hradiste, Czechoslovakia on October 13, 1920 to Julia and Joseph Sr. He was one of 5 children and left school after completing grade 9 in order to help support his family. Spisak was very athletic and participated in a variety of sports such as baseball, hockey and golf; he also enjoyed fishing. Spisak appeared to be a natural at everything he attempted and there seemed to be nothing he couldn’t do. He was also known to be a perfectionist and was very particular about details when it came to completing tasks. Prior to the war he had worked as a movie projectionist and had driven a milk truck. 

Spisak volunteered for duty on October 27, 1942 and was assigned to No. 2 District Depot, Royal Canadian Engineers. It wasn’t long however before he turned his sights on becoming a paratrooper and he requested a transfer to the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. While undertaking the battery of testing required of Battalion applicants it was determined that Spisak had a very high IQ of 151, far in excess of the minimal requirement of 115.  He successfully passed all tests and was sent to Parachute Training School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Spisak proudly graduated from the Parachute Course on February 19, 1943 and was transferred to Camp Shilo shortly thereafter.  

In June of that same year, the Battalion was issued weapons and sent to Halifax where they boarded RMS Queen Elizabeth for their voyage to the UK. They disembarked in Greenock, Scotland and travelled to Carter Barracks at Bulford in the south of England. Joseph recalls they were immediately assigned to Brigadier James Hill’s 3rd Brigade within the 6th British Airborne Division.  For the next 10 months the Battalion trained hard in preparation for operations to follow, and also participated in the testing of new equipment that was being developed.

All that hard training was finally put into effect when the Allied invasion of France was launched, Operation Overlord. Spisak was assigned to a Vickers machine gun platoon and parachuted into Normandy on June 6, 1944. He would fight for the next 27 days before being shot through both knees at Le Mesnil. He wasn’t wounded by the enemy however; this was an unfortunate friendly-fire accident caused by his trench partner. With such a crippling injury, the war ended for Spisak right then and there. He was immediately returned to the UK for recovery and rehabilitation.

Spisak was released from the military on December 6, 1944 and returned to civilian life. He quickly obtained employment at Gypsum, Lime and Alabaster Limited where he worked as a Supervisor. Feeling that it was now time to settle down and raise a family he exchanged vows with Mildred Innis on November 21, 1945. They raised 3 wonderful children together and remained happily married until his death on April 11, 2002.  He is resting peacefully beside his wife at Queens Park Cemetery in Calgary, Alberta.
 

Spisak
Portrait picture of Pte. Spisak Coutesty of Bob Spisak.
Spisak Medal Group
Pte Spisak's medals and other personal items. Coutesty of Bob Spisak.
Spisak Cert
Spisak Cap Badge
Pte Spisak's original war time cap badge he wore overseas in Europe. Coutesty of Bob Spisak.
Spisak Wing
Post-war U.S. wing which belonged to Pte Spisak. Coutesty of Bob Spisak.
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Spisak Medals
Spisak HQ Group Pic
1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Group photograph. Coutesty of Bob Spisak.
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Training at Fort Benning. Coutesty of Bob Spisak.
Spisak Plane
Courtesy of Bob Spisak
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Training at Fort Benning. Coutesty of Bob Spisak.
Spisak Jump
Pte Spisak second from the left getting ready to jump. Courtesy of Bob Spisak
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A letter to Pte Spisak's mother, informing her of his injuries. Coutesty of Bob Spisak.
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Pte Spisak's discharge certificate. Courtesy of Bob Spisak
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Pte Spisak and his wife Mildred. Coutesty of Bob Spisak.
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From left to right, Mildred, Pte Spisak and Audrey who was the maid of honour. Coutesty of Bob Spisak.
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Spisak married the girl of his dreams, Mildred Innis, and began their family together.
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The wedding bands of Mr. & Mrs. Spisak.
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Mildred Spisak Courtesy of Bob Spisak
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Mildred Spisak Courtesy of Bob Spisak
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The Caledonia Men’s Club held a Welcome Home Banquet for all the local soldier who served during WW2. Pte Spisak can be found on the list. Courtesy of Bob Spisak
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The list of WW2 Veteran’s being honoured at the dinner that night. Courtesy of Bob Spisak
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The menu of what was served at the Caledonia Men’s Club held a Welcome Home Banquet on January 29, 1946. Courtesy of Bob Spisak
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The list of WW2 Veteran’s being honoured at the dinner that night. Courtesy of Bob Spisak
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Spisak was proud to serve his new country during World War II and he worked hard to finally receive his Canadian citizenship in 1953.
Spisak Grave
Queens Park Cemetary Calgary, Alberta Courtesy of Bob Spisak
  

Vickers Machine Gun

Below is a Vickers Machine Gun, Pte Spisak would have used a similar one overseas. It chambered a .303 British cartridge with a rate of fire at 450 – 500 rounds per minute with an effective range of 2,000 meters.  It was usually employed by a 3-man team in order to carry all the parts and ammunition required.  Due to the Vickers Machine Gun having the ability of such a long range, it was employed to support the platoon at a greater distance from the enemy.  Photographs courtesy of Arundel Militaria in the U.K.