Private Gordon Werring Barnett
Gordon Werring Barnett was born on February 27th, 1925 and raised on the family farm near St. Marys, Ontario, Canada. Gordon was the 4th generation born on the family farm that had been first settled in 1853. His parents Isaac and Mary Barnett had four children, Gordon was the second youngest. He had one younger brother and an older sister and brother. He was a gifted athlete who enjoyed playing baseball and hockey throughout his formative years. Gordon and his family attended the United Church of Canada on a weekly basis.
Gordon completed grade 10 and left school at 16 years old to assist on the family farm where he learned a good work ethic at a young age. In addition to working on the family farm, he worked as a hired hand on neighbouring farms. Gordon hoped to take over the family farm after returning from the war. His older brother joined the 48th Highlanders and deployed overseas. Gordon also wanted to join the military to contribute to the war effort but was not yet of age.
Gordon enlisted on October 12th, 1943 at 18 years of age. In January 1944 he was found suitable as a candidate for paratrooper training so he was sent to the recently opened Camp Shilo in Manitoba for training as a paratrooper. He graduated on April 2, 1944, and was now a proud paratrooper. Gordon arrived in Great Britain on July 19th, 1944 to join the Battalion and begin training with the 6th Airborne Division. He saw his first action when the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion was sent to Ostend Belgium by ship on December 25th, 1944 to reinforce the Allies as they prepared to push back the German offensive which was the Battle of the Ardennes, often referred to as the Battle of the Bulge. In mid-February, the Battalion returned to England where they began training for their next major assignment.
On March 24th, 1945, Gordon was a part of the largest air assault in history known as Operation Varsity. Their role was to land across the Rhine River in the area around Wesel, Germany. C Company was the first to parachute onto the drop zone and it was during this drop that Pte. Gordon Barnett was killed, along with 27 other paratroopers from his Battalion. Initially, he was temporarily buried near Xanten, Germany but was later moved to his final resting place in Grave 2, Row B, Plot 22 in the Nijmegen, Canadian Military Cemetery where he lies next to his fellow paratroopers. If you have taken the time to read about Pte. Gordon Barnett, then you have kept his memory alive.
We will remember them.
Biography information and photographs courtesy of Gord Barnett (Nephew of Paratrooper Pte. Barnett)
Camillus Stiletto Fighting Knife
1942 Camillus manufactured USMC Raider Stiletto Fighting Knife and Sheath with blackened blade and grip used by the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. Approximately 500 of these particular knives were produced for the elite Canadian airborne members. Private Gordon would have been issued a similar knife as shown here.