Commendation recognizes local war veterans

Barbara Fosdick, Velma Emberly and Gerard Ratchford recognized by federal government

Fernwood resident Barbara Fosdick is presented with a coomendation from Veteran Affairs Minister Steven Blaney.

Fernwood resident Barbara Fosdick is presented with a coomendation from Veteran Affairs Minister Steven Blaney.

Barbara Fosdick, now 87, was just 17 years old when she worked with other women on British anti-aircraft gun sites during the Second World War .

“We weren’t allowed to load and fire. We were on the instruments that directed the guns to the planes,” the Fernwood resident recalled.

Fosdick, Velma Emberly of Vic West and Gerard Ratchford of Esquimalt were among 13 people in B.C. who received commendations Jan. 17 for their remembrance of and care for the well-being of veterans and their families from Veteran Affairs Minister Steven Blaney.

Fosdick, an active member of the Tralfalgar/Pro Patria branch of the Royal Canadian Legion supports other veterans, and talks about the war to youth, especially girls.

“It was the women that went to war that opened the doors for all of you young women,” she said. “Today, women can do anything they want to do.”

Velma Emberly spent two years of the war as an air raid warden in North Vancouver. She was 14 years old when she made her rounds every night reminding residents to cover up their lit windows and doors so the enemy wouldn’t have a target to fire at.

“There were Japanese subs going up and down the coast here,” said Emberly, membership chairperson of the Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans Association.

Fellow recipient Gerard Ratchford is a veteran of the Merchant Navy, the Korean War and the Canadian Forces. Like Emberly and Fosdick, he has helped with services at God’s Acre veterans cemetery in Esquimalt.