Private Henry Edward Guenther
Henry Edward Guenther was born on October 24, 1920 in London, Ontario. He was the youngest of four children raised by their parents Alan and Barbara Guenther. Henry attended the local school in London and was a good student. He was actively involved in many sports such as hockey, baseball, boxing, and gymnastics during his formative years, proving to be very athletic. At the age of 16, he completed 2 years at the London Technical School for bookkeeping and general business. From 1936 through 1941, he worked various odd jobs – from delivery boy at a butcher shop to factory work), before he secured a permanent job at Kellogg.
World War II was in full swing when Henry decided to join the war effort and enlisted in the military on March 5, 1942, at the No. 1 District Depot AF. On March 13, 1942, Henry began basic training. Then, on May 12, 1942, Henry transferred to the Artillery Training Centre. Henry learned of the newly formed group called the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion and immediately put in a transfer to the Paratroopers. He was able to pass the battery of physical and aptitude tests and was then sent to the Parachute school in Fort Benning, Georgia, USA. He graduated from his parachute course on January 23, 1943.
Henry then joined the Battalion in England and proudly became part of the 6th Airborne Division. Henry was assigned to C Coy, when he parachuted into Normandy as part of the D-day invasion of France. He fought valiantly throughout the Normandy campaign, and on August 13, 1944, he was involved in a firefight, in which was wounded. By the end of the war, Henry had served 40 months, with 22 months served overseas in the UK and France. By the time the war ended, Henry was awarded several medals including, The 1939-45 Campaign Star, the France and Germany Campaign Star and the Defence Medal, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with clasp, and the 1939-45 War Medal.
Henry returned to civilian life. He met a young woman by the name of Janet, and they married a short time later. The union produced two children, Jill and John Guenther. They moved to Vista, CA, and became naturalized American citizens. Many years later, Henry went to Vietnam for work. He was fortunate to find love again in the early 1970s when he met Tam Nguyen. When the Vietnam War ended in 1975, Tam and her daughter Debbie came to the United States. Henry married Tam and adopted Debbie and raised her as his own child.
With Tam and Debbie by his side, Henry travelled and worked in many places all over the world, including Oman, Egypt, and Syria, eventually returning to Vista, CA to settle down. Henry continued to work overseas in Bangladesh until 1983. He became ill suddenly in 1984, which turned out to be a brain tumor. He passed away in 1987. He was buried beside his mother in London, ON.
Pictures and information courtesy of Debbie Sand and Tam Nguyen Guenther.
Private Guenther would have carried a Sten submachine gun overseas, similar to the one shown below. The Sten can be found in several models, the one pictured here is a Sten MKV, produced for the Paratroopers. It was an inexpensive firearm to produce, costing less than $10.00 per unit. It chambered a 9mm cartridge with a firing rate of 550 rounds per minute and an effective range of 100 yards. Also shown is a magazine pouch or bandolier that allowed a soldier to carry additional 30-round magazines. Courtesy of Collectors Source.