Ford of Canada
President Wallace Campbell with his British war guest
David Leon at Edgewood, Campbell’s home in Olde
Ford Motor Company of Canada played an important role in the
Second World War. Many Ford men were sent to Britain to design
Canadian Military Pattern vehicles under great secrecy. In
addition, a number of Ford men and women gave their lives
in service for their country.
the home front, thousands of trucks, scout cars, and Windsor
carriers were manufactured in the Windsor Ford factory and
shipped overseas to aid the Allies. The assembly lines were
devoted entirely to military production from May 1942 to June
perhaps the most intriguing component of Ford’s involvement
in the war was their Evacuee program, popularly known as “Bundles
from Britain.” Over 100 British children – the
sons and daughters of British Ford employees from the London
area – became the guests of Windsor Ford executives,
dealers and the employees of feeder plants that supplied the
auto industry, from 1940 to 1945. Wallace Campbell, the President
of Ford of Canada, and his wife Gladys, had dreamed up the
idea of offering the children safe haven.
and Lord Perry, the Chairman of Ford of Britain, worked together
to arrange the transportation of the children to the Windsor
area. Because of the German bombing blitzes in London, British
parents were willing to entrust their children to caring families
in Windsor for as long as the war lasted. Since the London-area
Ford plant was producing armaments for the war, it was an
children, who were also referred to as the “Blitzkrieg
Kids” started sailing across the Atlantic and arriving
in Windsor after bombs began falling in London in July of
of these children were only 4 years old.
Campbells personally hosted 23 children, who ranged in age
from 4 to 14. The family converted the top floor of Edgewood,
their large home on Richmond Street opposite Willistead Park,
into a dormitory. Many other children also stayed with them
for a brief while, before being situated in area homes.
the only contact that the children had with their parents
back in England was through letters that would often arrive
with sections blacked out by military censors.
not all the children were treated with warmth and affection
and some were treated more like servants than refugees. Some
even ran away.
April, 2003, several guests, now in their sixties and seventies,
who were among those that had chosen to emigrate to their
adoptive country, gathered at the University of Windsor to
attend a ceremony where a collection of interviews, newspaper
clippings and other memorabilia of that time, was presented
to the University and the Ford Motor Company. These documents
represented 13 years of work by UNI-COM, a volunteer group
of retirees coordinated by Bill McRae, who realized that this
significant era of our local history shouldn’t be forgotten.
Horlock, one of the Blitzkrieg Kids and now a resident of
Mississauga, Ontario, was one of the attendees and is also
keen to help preserve the memory. He donated the trunk that
was given to him as a child to transport his belongings to
his temporary home in Canada, to Windsor’s Community
Museum, where it is currently on display. His story about
returning to England after his stay in Windsor follows.
of a Blitzkrieg Kid: 1940 to 1943
by Peter Horlock
war had been progressing for about a year when the time came
for Britain to batten down the hatches. After Dunkirk the
bombing raids were beginning in earnest. Through the generosity
of the Ford Motor Company of Canada and its employees, an
evacuation scheme was put into operation for the safekeeping
of the children of Ford Motor Company of England employees.
13 I was one of those children lucky enough to be a part of
the spring of 1940, we lived in Hornchurch, Essex to be near
the Dagenham plant where Dad worked. This area is almost a
suburb of London and was also home to an RAF base and therefore
deemed a target area.
and Dad wanted me to go to Canada to be safe from the bombing
and that soon I would be back with them when the war ended.
It was a big rush getting outfitted, buying a trunk to put
it all in, seeing all of my aunts and uncles, getting documents
from school and saying goodbye to all my friends. To say I
was thrilled was putting it mildly.
“Guest” Peter Horlock
today with his boyhood trunk
(on display at Windsor’s Community’s Museum
was completely oblivious to the effect this would have on
no time it was mid-July and we were at the train station saying
goodbye – shaking hands in manly fashion with Dad and
being embarrassed by a long hug from my Mom. (She told me
years later that she ran down the station platform, to try
to take me off the train.)
were chaperoned all the way by Ford Motor personnel and finally
arrived in Liverpool to board the CP ship “Duchess of
Bedford.” It was a fast liner and so was able to travel
alone. It was an exciting time, meeting the other evacuees,
learning lifeboat drills, and generally getting in the way.
attended most meals while we were in the North Atlantic, getting
only mildly seasick. Then we were traveling down the St. Lawrence
River where we really marveled at all the sights down to Quebec
of Mr. Campbell’s sons (Noel I believe) met us and organized
our train trip from Quebec City to Windsor. I remember that
it felt like a luxury train after the British commuter trains
we’d been using to get in and out of London.
a long journey we arrived at the Windsor train station at
the foot of Ouellette Avenue on the Detroit River. There were
a lot of people there to meet us and help everyone get sorted
into the various vehicles that would take us to the staging
locations. I was one of twelve boys who were put on a bus
with a chaperone and taken to the home of Mr. and Mrs. L.C.
Angstrom and their daughter Barbara on Riverfront Road in
arriving we were all awestruck at this beautiful home and
its park-like setting. Overlooking the Detroit River at its
widest point, the property had a curved driveway leading to
a huge house with a separate garage and two monstrous barns,
plus equipment sheds for the farm machinery.
Angstroms had things well organized for us and soon we were
sitting down to our first Canadian meal. We were housed in
a large room at the top of the house that had been turned
into a dormitory. There were two American boys there also,
who were waiting to join the RCAF. They looked after us younger
ones and organized activities, etc, while we were getting
Canadianized and waiting for the “foster parents”
to come out and pick up those boys who had been assigned to
the end of this period, Mrs. Angstrom asked me if I would
like to stay with them as part of their family until the war
ended. I couldn’t believe my luck! Of course I said
YES! Thus began a wonderful friendship with a great family,
which still exists to this day.
and Mrs. Angstrom were now Aunt Hazel and Uncle Carlton and
Barbara became my older “sister” Barb. My room
was a huge bedroom on the north end of the house with a great
view over the Detroit River. They owned a 200-acre farm that
stretched down the 10th Sideroad to Malden Road and as well,
they were leasing another 800 acres across the road, to assist
in the war effort. There were Belgian horses, milk cows, Berkshire
hogs and Leghorn chickens, plus various crops. Uncle Carlton
and the farm manager, Bert Madill, showed me how to look after
the animals and generally be a “regular farmhand.”
three weeks after arriving, I had my 14th. birthday and coincidentally,
the first letters arrived from my mother. That’s when
it really hit me how much I missed her but the Angstroms understood
and provided lots of comfort. When September rolled around
I started school at “General Amherst High” in
Amherstburg. It was strange at first being in a co-ed class,
but I was really made welcome by the teachers and classmates.
school I would help on the farm, “mucking out”
animal stalls, collecting eggs, etc. Dinners were formal affairs,
so I had to clean up after chores before sitting down to eat.
Then it was homework time before I went off to bed.
was also involved in after school activities such as lacrosse,
DCRA shooting team, school play and, as it was wartime, all
male students, who were not conscientious objectors, were
involved in the RCAC cadets. It was a truly great experience
that guided me in later life.
Hazel made sure I wrote home to my Mom and Dad every week
and it was always an event when my parents’ letters
British boys in front of the
Angstrom home, Amherstburg
school year had several highlights, of which the November
11th parade was the first. In 1940 all cadets were issued
WWI uniforms from the school stores and it was a riot trying
to get the thing to fit. Uncle Carlton had quite a laugh helping
me wind the puttees and tie them off.
were a small school with only 200 students, so in order to
have a marching band, we enlisted the girls into a drum and
bugle band. Another highlight was Christmas, which was very
nice as there was snow in the area back then. We always had
a play and a Christmas Social.
big event of the school year was the annual cadet inspection
in May and the Cadet Ball. This event became quite impressive
after 1941 when we were issued our new, modern uniforms, which
complemented the girls’ formal gowns at the Ball.
scholastic side of my education was good, as I had to master
French and Latin, plus various Maths, a new style of History
and Geography, various English components, Phys. Ed. and Shop.
1941 I had my tonsils out at Hotel Dieu Hospital and I was
“obligated” to eat ice cream to “ease”
my throat. Another highlight was attending the wedding of
Wallace Campbell’s daughter Glad to Nelson Works.
gasoline was rationed we did save enough for Uncle Carlton
to drive us to Toronto and the CNE. The visit to the exhibition
is sketchy, but I do remember driving along the QEW, only
two years after it was opened. In December came the “Day
of Infamy” and I remember listening to the news flashes
on the radio with the Angstroms while we were all in the study.
The next day, we heard President Roosevelt’s speech
and realized the war was being brought home to all of us.
was not a good year in general and the entire Windsor area
was particularly hard hit with the news of the Dieppe raid.
I remember Aunt Hazel going in to Windsor to comfort several
friends who had lost loved ones in the raid.
day, as a reward for our hard work we were allowed to go to
Detroit to see and hear Glen Miller and his orchestra at the
Michigan Theatre. He was playing between movies and just afterwards,
he and his group joined the army.
my 16th birthday in the fall of ’42, Aunt Hazel took
me to get my temporary driving license. I was then allowed
to “put the car away”, that is, drive it from
the back door of the house to the garage, but eventually I
was taken on the road for lessons. Gasoline rationing had
been tightened up by this time and therefore I didn’t
get to drive too much.
remember that my mother’s letters were beginning to
look like paper cut outs from the censor’s scissors.
it was1943 and the war had taken an about turn. The Allies
were no longer consolidating, but were starting to advance
in both Europe and the Pacific. At home, we were starting
to talk about when the war would be over. I had passed my
Departmentals for grade 11 and spent the summer planting and
harvesting on the farm.
the fall I started grade 12. Patriotism was running high at
this stage of the war, so along with a group of friends I
made a pact to join the RCAF when I graduated. I wrote and
asked my parents, who wrote back and agreed.
I could graduate however, the long arm of the British Government
reached over the Atlantic and beckoned me. It was time to
come home and do my duty. I had a con-versation with Aunt
Hazel about the RCAF, but she felt it would be better if I
went home, as I would get to see my parents for the first
time in 3 years.
all the official papers had been filled in, there came several
rounds of long and very, very difficult goodbyes. I left the
Windsor area from the station at the foot of Ouellette Avenue
on Christmas Day 1943. I left behind very enduring memories
of some wonderful people who I came to love as my own parents.
Uncle Carlton, Aunt Hazel and Barb, you were a part of my
life that is unforgettable.
Peter lives in Mississauga,
Ontario and can be e-mailed at: email@example.com
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