Wartime photo and internet bring together two families affected by tragedy in Second World War

Bruno Anderson and Donald McMartin SUS-180730-115228001
Bruno Anderson and Donald McMartin SUS-180730-115228001

The power of the internet has brought together two families almost 75 years after tragedy struck their lives in the Second World War.

Vic Jay, who wrote The Mallon Crew, which charts his father’s wartime experiences, said contact was established between both families following the publication of a wartime photograph in his book.

Donald, left, and Edward McMartin SUS-180730-115238001

Donald, left, and Edward McMartin SUS-180730-115238001

He said: “There is a picture, taken in March 1943, of a 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun on Brighton seafront, with the Grand Hotel in the background. Manning the gun are members of the Canadian armed forces.

“My attempts in 2016 to establish who owned the copyright led to the discovery that the man in the centre was Gunner Bruno Anderson, of the Royal Canadian Artillery, who was born in Welland, Ontario, and whose daughter Peggy lives in Vancouver.

“Peggy told me her father kept a copy of the picture and, when she was about 13, showed it to her. Pointing to the man seated in the foreground, he said it was ‘Mac’, his friend. Peggy didn’t know who ‘Mac’ was, only that he was killed in an air raid in Hastings.

“With the help of archives, I concluded Bruno’s friend Mac was probably Trooper Donald James McMartin, of the 17th Duke of York Royal Canadian Hussars, although it was impossible to be certain.

Donald McMartin SUS-180730-115248001

Donald McMartin SUS-180730-115248001

“He was killed on May 23, 1943, alongside 10 of his comrades in the Albany Hotel, used at the time to billet Canadian soldiers. The deaths were the result of a ‘tip-and-run’ raid by several Focke-Wulf Fw 190s.

“In June, Karen Kaus, in Windsor, Ontario, came across two tweets I had posted, one featuring the photograph of the Bofors gun, the other showing the memorial plaque at the site of the Albany Hotel.

“She responded to say Trooper Donald James McMartin was her great uncle. In an emotional exchange of emails, Peggy and Karen were able to share stories about their loved ones, whose paths had crossed so tragically 75 years earlier.”

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