Private Douglas Archibald Bumstead
Douglas Archibald Bumstead was born in Broderick, Saskatchewan on January 11, 1924. He was the oldest of five boys. His parents, Archibald (Archie) Bumstead and Edna (Addie) Adeline Petty were both from Ontario. Their families had moved west to homestead near Outlook, Saskatchewan where Archie and Addie met, married and decided to settle to raise their five boys and take over the family farm. In 1926 they had 1,000 acres of the crop cut down by hailstones as large as duck eggs. Douglas, along with 2 of his brothers and cousins attended Garden Valley School until their return to Ontario.
Douglas completed his grade 8 at Tiny School Section, #15 Campbell Schoolhouse then decided to quit school and help with the farm and join the workforce to earn a living. In 1937, after several years of crop failures from drought and grasshoppers and no crops to feed the livestock, the Bumstead family returned to Waverley, Ontario.
Douglas was working in a steel mill and boarding in Welland Ontario when he and a friend decided to enlist in the Canadian Armoured Corp in Hamilton Ontario on March 25, 1943. He took his Basic Training in Brampton, Ontario. It wasn’t long when Douglas learned about an elite unit called the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion that was looking for volunteers, wanting only the best people to apply. Douglas was eager for the challenge, so he volunteered and was accepted to take some pre-training at the newly opened facility at Shilo, Manitoba. He then travelled to Halifax and then overseas embarking July 23, 1943, on SS Queen Elizabeth arriving July 28 in Scotland and on to Carter Barracks, Bulford, England. On September 11, 1943, Douglas graduated from Ringway, England and was a very proud paratrooper.
Douglas was now a part of the 6th Airborne and began training with the Battalion in preparation for the D-day invasion. It was during that time when Douglas was assigned to “A” Company. On June 6, 1944, Douglas parachuted into Normandy as part of the biggest Canadian parachute invasion force in history. Due to poor visibility and evasive drills to avoid enemy fire, the men were dropped many miles away from the intended drop zone. After 10 days of combat and attempting to rejoin the main body, Douglas along with several of his comrades were taken prisoner by the enemy. At that time, he was reported Missing in Action.
It was sometime after that his family was informed that he was a Prisoner of War in Camp Stalag 5, Bitterfelt, Germany. He endured the next 11 months in the prison camp. After release at end of the War, Doug spent some time recuperating in the hospital in England, returning home on the Lady Nelson Hospital Ship, and also time at Chorley Park Hospital, Christie Street Hospital and the Weston San in Toronto. It was during this time that he met Lorraine Young, thanks to Doug’s cousin who asked a friend if she would visit Douglas during his stay in hospital. It was love at first sight; they were married within the year. The war was finally over for Douglas and he discharged from the military on September 14, 1945, and returned to his civilian life. Douglas and Lorraine exchanged wedding vows on July 6, 1946, and the newlyweds settled in Wyevale.
Douglas drove stock truck to Toronto Stockyards when first married and lived in the back of the Wyevale General Store. In no time they built a house next door to Archie and Addie’s new house and Douglas joined father Archie at Bumstead’s Electric, Plumbing and Heating where he enjoyed his working days and maintained a long time partnership with his brothers and eventually his son. Two of Doug’s brothers joined the Bumstead line in Wyevale, building homes right next door.
In 1974 Douglas, Lorraine, Archie and Addie decided to take a trip with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion group to UK, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany as part of the 30th anniversary of D-day. It was an excellent opportunity to reunite with old comrades and visit old barracks, parade ground, pubs, cemeteries and attended various celebrations along the route. Then in 2004, Doug and Lorraine, along with their three children Linda, Gary and Gail travelled to England and France with the Battalion for the 60th anniversary of D-day. This trip was another opportunity to reunite with old friends and a sombre reminder of those young men who never came home.
On January 24, 2010, at the age of 86, Douglas passed away exactly 11 months after the love of his life, Lorraine died. They are interred together at Wyevale Cemetery.
Artifacts and information courtesy of Gail Vasey