SERVICE NO: A / 31364
AWARDS: 1939-45 Star, France – Germany Star, Defence Medal,
War Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal + clasp.
DATE OF BIRTH: November 7, 1907
DATE OF DEATH: December 24, 1944 37 years 1 month
WIFE: Mrs. Sarah Levina Hart – Guelph – Ontario.
SONS: Wilbert Jr., David and William – Guelph – Ontario.
MOTHER: Mrs. Edith Hart – Wingham – Ontario.
BROTHERS: Mr. Alvin and Earl Hart – Wingham – Ontario.
SISTER: Mrs. Mildred Prentice – Wingham – Ontario.
CEMETERY: Temporary Canadian Military Cemetery – Jonkerbosch – Netherlands.
Row 4 Grave 4
CEMETERY: Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery – Groesbeek –
Gelderland – Netherlands.
II C 11
Height: 5’ 6” Weight: 120 pounds
Complexion: dark Eyes: hazel Hair: brown/grey
Occupation: foundry worker Religion: Church of England.
RESIDENCE: Guelph – Ontario.
ENLISTMENT: April 29, 1941 – Guelph – Ontario.
ENLISTMENT AGE: 33 years 5 months
Wilbert enjoyed playing softball.
Following school he had worked on a farm for three years and then had worked at Western Foundry in Wingham – Ontario for 5 years.
In 1981, Mrs. S. Hart contacted the Library and Archives of Canada about the service file of her husband Private Hart. At that time she would have been approximately 68 years of age.
- Upon his enlistment, Gunner Hart was with the 4th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery and immediately posted to the 100th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery in Guelph – Ontario.
- July 7, 1941 – granted Embarkation leave until July 9, 1941.
- October 10, 1941 – granted furlough until October 29, 1941.
- November 10, 1941 – Embarked from Canada for overseas.
- November 23, 1941 – Arrived in Liverpool – England.
- December 1, 1941 – granted landing leave until December 6, 1941. United Kingdom
- January 18, 1942 – assigned to No. 3 Canadian Army Reinforcement Unit.
- May 29, 1942 – Taken on Strength for the Canadian Reinforcement Pool and attached to 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment.
- October 5, 1942 – granted 7 days leave until October 12.
- February 4, 1943 – granted 9 days leave until February 13, 1943.
- June 7, 1943 – granted 9 days leave until June 16, 1943.
- July 4, 1944 – Embarked from England bound for the continent.
- July 7, 1944 – Arrived in France on D Day + 31. North-West Europe
In the field…..
- September 13, 1944 – Gunner Hart transfers to the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps and assumes the rank of Private.
- October 24, 1944 – assigned to the Black Watch of Canada.
The Nijmegen Salient was a large area defended by the 1st Canadian Army from November 1944 until early February of 1945. The 1st Canadian Army front during this period was 135 miles in length.
At the beginning of the second week of December the Regiment found themselves on the front lines again and in their slit trenches, trenches, dugouts and sandbag huts bordering the River Maas. For the next two weeks, they would carry out patrols and raiding parties.
- On December 24, 1944, the Regiment was preparing to advance onto Middelaarhuis but did not want to move until the moon went down about 9:45 pm in the evening. The weather in the day had been clear, sunny but frosty.
When the moon set “C” Company moved forward toward the town of Middelaarhuis and their supporting arms fire was very well coordinated.
“A” Company sprayed the area with machine gun fire and received a few enemy mortar rounds in return.
The planning of the Brigade had worked well and they were then able to move their positions forward.
The Companies had been able to advance their forward positions and it was at this time the enemy sent some mortar fire and one struck very close to where Private Hart was and he was immediately evacuated to a Canadian Aid Station but was not able to survive the wounds received.
This raid was not a success as the reason for it was to bring back German prisoners. Once in the town, the Regiment found no enemy. The Regiment was disappointed in the result especially because of their losses.
The known enemy mortar positions were then engaged by the artillery, with air bursts.
During the daylight hours of December 24th there had been little action, but following the raid and upon returning to their positions the men of the Regiment could hear the Germans playing and singing Christmas carols as they were popping rifle grenades toward the Regiment.
The Regiment then sat and waited until the Germans began “Silent Night” and made a liar out of the Germans by furnishing the accompaniment with their Bren guns.
Later the Regiment heard the sound of female voices and they wondered if the rumours were true that the enemy had “camp followers” that move with the troops.
- A letter dated January 11, 1945 arrived at the Hart home in Guelph Ontario expressing regrets about the death of Private Hart while serving his country in the North-West theatre of war. In addition, the Minister of Defence and the Army board are expressing their deepest sympathies. This letter was from Major-General A. E. Walford per the Adjutant General.
- A letter to Mrs. Hart from Colonel C. L. Laurin – the Director of Records per the Adjutant General dated July 23, 1946 arrived explaining that her husband Private Hart was reburied with full honour and rites at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. She was also invited to send a short personal message that would be carved into his headstone.
- In May of 1946, Mrs. Hart received a letter from Miss Jet Janssen who tended to his grave following his death. She wrote that Private Hart had given his life to the Dutch people and that because of that he would never be out of their prayers and that they considered him to be a hero.
The War Service Gratuity sent to his wife was $873.77. His Last Pay amounted $264.94.
His personal items sent back to his family in Canada included 1 snapshot album, 2 photos, 1 leather shaving case, 1 cap badge, 1 key and locket on a chain, 1 coin purse, 10 souvenir coins, 2 English Farthing coins, 1 pen knife, 2 lanyards, a New Testament, a notebook, a nail file, a fountain pen, good luck tokens, a red “I” disc and a packet containing snapshots/negatives/postcards/greeting cards/writing paper and envelopes.