It was one of the most iconic Canadian photos of the Second World War. It is soon to be immortalized in a permanent sculpture to be located at the original spot where the photo was taken.
Originally the photographer, Claude Dettloff of the Vancouver Province news, was just trying to get a photo to show the number of British Columbia soldiers marching off to war, when the “moment” happened.
It was October 1st, 1940 in the city of New Westminster, British Columbia. Pvt Jack Bernard was marching with his regiment ( The British Columbia Regiment -Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles) when his 5-year-old son breaks away from his mother to join his father.
The photo was dubbed “Wait for me Daddy!”
It was featured in the paper the next day, but was quickly picked up by other newspapers and magazines throughout North America, including extremely popular Amercai publications such as, Life Magazine, Newsweek, the Reader’s Digest and even the Encyclopaedia Britannica yearbook, as well as most newspapers across the continent.
The little boy was Warren “Whitey” Bernard. He and his mother got by on a meager income while his father’s regiment was stationed first in Nanaimo, BC, for more training, and then while the regiment was sent to fight in Europe.
“Whitey” who was then well-known, spent summers in 1943 and 44 touring with a small entertainment group travelling the province encouraging people to buy war bonds to support the soldiers fighting overseas. At the end of the performance, the still quite young boy would give a speech.
Warren-Whitey-Bernard still has a copy of that speech which begins, “Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to show you a picture of my daddy who left for overseas more than three years ago. You’ll see me in the picture too. I was just about five then.”
Now that special moment in history, captured in black and white, is to be recreated in a monument to be placed at the exact location of 8th Street and Columbia Street, where the photo was taken.
The monument will apparently feature the three figures of mother, son, and father. The work is being carried out by a husband and wife artistic team in Barcelona Spain.
The city of New Westminster plans an unveiling in 2014, followed by a re-enactment of the soldiers’ march in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, according to Councillor. Lorrie Williams.
“We want to try to get the whole area declared a historic site, because there are not many military historic sites on the West Coast.”
The story has a mixed ending; happily Whitey’s father, Jack survived the war and came home, however, the marriage did not survive and the couple divorced soon after.
Jack did live long enough to see his son become mayor of the city of Tofino.
Warren “Whitey” Bernard says he’s now looking forward to seeing the monument and that emotional moment immortalized forever.