Frank Chevrier, 84, shows off some of the medals he was given after two tours in West Germany during the Cold War and two tours as a peacekeeper in Cyprus in the 70’s. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Frank Chevrier, 84, shows off some of the medals he was given after two tours in West Germany during the Cold War and two tours as a peacekeeper in Cyprus in the 70’s. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

‘My jaw broke in two places:’ Veteran recalls highs and lows in west Germany during Cold War

Frank Chevrier, 84, did two tours in Germany, two in Cyprus as peacekeeper

Frank “Chevy” Chevrier didn’t know what love was until it hit him like a ton of bricks.

The year was 1956. Though the Second World War had ended, Canada was still maintaining a presence in Europe as part of the NATO forces.

The 84-year-old member of the Langford branch of the Royal Canadian Legion remembers the day when he was out on a blackout drive in West Germany when his comrade crashed their vehicle into a rock wall.

“My jaw broke in two places,” said Chevrier, who was 20 at the time and held the rank of lance corporal.

“It all happened so fast. First the crash, then the windshield broke and all of us got banged up pretty hard. The next thing I knew I was in the hospital getting my jaw, nose and one ear fixed up by a doctor and a dental hygienist.”

Her name was Joy.

A member of the British dental corp, she not only scaled and treated his broken jaw, she stole his heart.

READ MORE: Colwood veteran recalls harrowing experience during Second World War

They married a couple months later in the summer of 1957 in England.

Over the next few months, Chevrier worked as a ration clerk back in West Germany. He’d drive 25 miles from the camp and bring food back to the commissary where the cooks would prepare meals.

It was all part of the lifestyle of waking up at 0600, aka 6 a.m., and completing patrol exercises near the West German border before heading to bed at 2200, aka 10 p.m.

During his first tour with the second Canadian Infantry Brigade Group, he says the Germans didn’t like Canadian troops on their home soil.

“They’d throw potatoes and rocks at you when they had the chance,” he said. “They’d call you a pig and even spit at you. You just had to take it and not retaliate.”

Chevrier would always be in uniform, even during late nights at the local pub. They were advised to go with two or more people to avoid getting jumped while returning to the base.

ALSO READ: Colwood house helps homeless veterans get back on their feet

By the end of 1957, Chevrier and Joy returned to Canada and settled at CFB Esquimalt.

The Winnipeg-born man trained in what he calls a “little engineering group” that would work on creating and disarming assault weapons and booby traps. By the next time he would be sent back to Europe in 1963, the couple would have their first daughter, Susan.

Soon enough, Joy and their four-year-old joined Chevrier in Germany as tensions rose during the Cold War. He would later have two more children there.

One of his most memorable moments during his second tour was hearing the U.S. president John F. Kennedy famous anti-communist speech ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’

The speech highlighted anti-communist values nearly two years after the Berlin Wall had been built in 1961.

Chevrier pointed out that most Germans “were much nicer” to Canadian troops in 1963.

Though he’s thankful for the time spent abroad in his 22 years of service, Chevrier is relieved he didn’t have to stay too long during two tours with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.

Known as Operation Snowgoose, his first stint lasted six months and nine days, the second was seven months and 19 days.

“I only remember the rumbling of tanks firing day and night,” said Chevrier. “It was so touch-and-go there and I saw things that were unforgettable in the worst possible ways.”

Looking back, Chevrier says his life could’ve gone down a completely different path because he wasn’t planning on being sent to Germany in the first place. In fact, 65 years ago, he was four days out from being sent to Korea when plans shifted after opposing forces agreed on an armistice.

Nonetheless, the Saanich man is grateful his choices has led him to where he is today, with his second wife, Joan in a quaint apartment building with a pristine view of the Gorge.

RELATED: Plans for new Legion in Langford include low-cost housing for seniors


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com

Remembrance DayRoyal Canadian Legion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Frank Chevrier, 84, shows off some of the medals he was given after two tours in West Germany during the Cold War and two tours as a peacekeeper in Cyprus in the 70’s. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Frank Chevrier, 84, shows off some of the medals he was given after two tours in West Germany during the Cold War and two tours as a peacekeeper in Cyprus in the 70’s. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Frank Chevrier, 84, shows off some of the medals he was given after two tours in West Germany during the Cold War and two tours as a peacekeeper in Cyprus in the 70’s. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Frank Chevrier, 84, shows off some of the medals he was given after two tours in West Germany during the Cold War and two tours as a peacekeeper in Cyprus in the 70’s. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Frank Chevrier shows a portrait taken in his 40’s while part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Frank Chevrier shows a portrait taken in his 40’s while part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Just Posted

VicPD is warning the public after a man paid $460 for fake gold jewelry. (Unsplash)
Police issue warning after Victoria man pays $460 for fake gold jewelry

Suspects flagged victim down and took him to ATM

Carmen Robinson was last seen getting off a bus in View Royal the evening of Dec. 8, 1973. Her case remains unsolved 47 years later. (Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Gone cold: Fate of View Royal teen remains a mystery, 47 years after her disappearance

Carmen Robinson, 17, was last seen exiting a bus in View Royal in December 1973

Andrew McBride is among those who deck out for Sea of Lights floating ship parade annually. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pandemic sinks Royal Victoria Yacht Club’s Sea of Lights

Oak Bay club encourages donations to the charities event supports

The Oak Bay Police Department has announced plans to purchase the municipality’s first electric marked police vehicle. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Electric police vehicle could soon be patroling Oak Bay streets

Oak Bay police plan to purchase first marked electric police vehicle in 2021

Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre likely won’t be hosting a farmer’s market originally scheduled for Central Saanich after all after municipal staff in Sidney did not issue the necessary license.
Proposed farmer’s market for Sidney likely to be cancelled

Market was scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5 in the parking lot of Mary Winspear Centre

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Jon Lefebure went back to construction after losing the 2018 mayor’s post in North Cowichan to work on the Cottages On Willow. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Former Island mayor retools priorities with construction project

Fresh air a benefit and satisfaction results from building eight-unit housing complex in Chemainus

Most Read