Private Joseph Elmer Tansley
Joseph Elmer Tansley was born on April 11, 1924 in a country home in rural St. George Ontario. It was said that Joseph caused his mother twenty-four hours of hard labour, for which she never forgave him. Joseph was the oldest of five children born to Earl and Grace Tansley. Joseph had three sisters named Margaret, Ruth and Gail. His only brother Douglas also served in the military during World War II. The family grew up farming, apples and pigs primarily. It was a hard life during the great depression taking goods to market but they learned a good work ethic early in life. He developed many skills growing up on the farm and often referred to as a “jack of all trades”.
World War II was in full motion when Joseph decided to enlist. It wasn’t long before he learned about the Paratroops and them only wanting the best men to apply. Joseph was up for the challenge and requested a transfer to the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. He passed all the aptitude, psychological and rigorous physical testing requirements. He was ready for the next phase of his training. He departed Brantford on a train bound for the parachute school located in Shilo, Manitoba. Joseph successfully completed his training and graduated from his parachute course on March 4, 1944. He was now a proud paratrooper and shortly after joined the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion in the UK, where he became part of the 6th Airborne Division and assigned a signaler position.
It wasn’t long before Joseph was sent as part of the reinforcements who departed for Ostend Belgium and travelled to the Ardennes to fight in the Battle of the Bulge. He then made his way back to England where he would train for the next several months in preparation for a risky day time parachute drop known as Operation Varsity. The day had finally arrived where he would put all his training and preparation into action. On March 24, 1945, he parachuted with the Battalion into Germany where he was met with fierce fighting with enemy forces upon landing. He continued on with the Battalion to Wismar, Germany where they met the Russians. Joseph was a man of great strength and courage and kept many of his war experiences to himself.
The war was finally over for Joseph and he released from the army and returned to Brantford, where he married a young lady named Irene Hapichuk. Their courtship was short prior to enlisting. Joseph and Irene exchanged vows in Downtown Brantford in 1946 and began their life together. It wasn’t long before their family had expanded, they had two sons, Robert and David. During this whole time, Joseph secured employment with the Public Utilities Commission where he remained for the next forty-seven years, working his way up the corporate ladder. He started off as a lineman, and after several more advancements, he was promoted to the Superintendent, where he remained until he retired.
After retiring from the Hydro Corporation Joe and Irene spent much time travelling to many vacation destinations. He also made time for their four grandchildren, Marcus, Rhys, Brodie and Marlee. Joseph had a love of music and played the accordion and the harmonica. He had a great sense of humour and an optimistic view of life, he’d say things such as “I spent my 19th birthday in a foxhole in France being shot at and so hungry I ate the soles of my boots, how hard can anything be after that?” Joseph had a presence about him, wherever he went he left a positive impression on people. If you met him, you would remember him. Joe passed away on Friday, March 29th in 2002 at the age of 77. Irene and Joe reunited on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, when Irene passed at the age of 91. They both are laid to rest at Farringdon Burial Ground in Brantford, ON. If you have read this biography, then you have kept the memory of Private Joseph Elmer Tansley alive.
Special thanks to Rhys Tansley for pictures and information.