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Alexander, John Arthur

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

Alexander, John Arthur (Art) Shreve Second World War

Rank: Corporal Service # B-107026

Unit : Rifleman A-Company Queen’s Own Rifles

Alexander, John SWW and wife Jean 1940s

D-Day Veteran John Arthur Shreve Alexander was born on the Six Nations Indian Reservation near Brantford, Ontario on April 3, 1918

His father, Arthur Harding Alexander, was teaching school there at the time. His grandfather, John Henry Alexander, had taught school at the King Street School in Amherstburg, Ontario during the late 1800's and early 1900's.

His great grandfather, Thomas Alexander, was a fugitive slave who escaped from a plantation in Kentucky and settled in Anderdon Township near Amherstburg, Ontario in the 1840's.

John Arthur Shreve Alexander was in A Company of The Queen's Own Rifles, on the first Canadian ship to hit the beach of Normandy on D-Day. His first task was to blow up the barbed wire entanglement along the beach. He fought through France, Holland, England, Italy, and Germany.

He was wounded several times. he following is his war story which appeared in McLeans magazine June 6, 1994:

Nervously Waiting at Home

The hedgerows and hills of Normandy are far removed from the gently rolling southwestern Ontario countryside where John and Jean Alexander lived in their cozy ranch house just outside North Buxton. But the memories of the events 50 years earlier, when John Alexander was a young rifleman fighting on French soil, are still vivid.

The couple were married in Jean's hometown of Chatham, Ont. on Dec. 30, 1942, just eight months before Cpl. John Alexander left for England.

Once there, the 24-year-old former railway porter was assigned to The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, then stationed in Aldershot, southwest of London.

But that posting would have been news to his 18-year-old bride. "I wrote letters to him all the time, but he rarely wrote to me," Jean Alexander, 70, says now with a chuckle.

And it would be a long time after June 6, 1944, before she knew what part he played in the invasion of Normandy. "It wasn't like today, where you hear about things almost as soon as they happen," she says.

"News about D-Day trickled in. We heard bits on the radio, saw some newsreel footage at the cinema."

Alexander took up barbering when he returned home and was still barbering four days a week in 1994 at the age of 76 years.

John Arthur Alexander passed away on October 21st, 2002.

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