Second World War Medic receives Lifetime Membership to the Royal Canadian Medical Service Association

November 20, 2020 - Defence Stories

Author: Major Joel Bernier, Commanding Officer, 11 Canadian Forces Health Services Centre Shilo

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Cpl (retd) John Pauls with his Quilt of Valour. (Credit: Marlene Pauls Laucht)

October 2020 was a significant month for 104 year-old Cpl (retd) John Pauls. He had the honour of receiving a Lifetime Membership to the Royal Canadian Medical Service Association (RCMSA). The RCMSA is an independent, non-profit, all-ranks organization dedicated to promoting Canada’s military medical services – past, present and future. It contributes to the advancement of military health care services in Canada by increasing public awareness, preserving heritage and fostering esprit de corps.

Cpl (retd) Pauls, served as a Medic with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (RCAMC) in Italy and Europe during the Second World War. He was mainly employed in second-line medical support, which today would be known as a Role 2 Basic within the Brigade support area. He was awarded the 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp. Cpl (retd) Pauls also received a Mention in Dispatches, an honour awarded by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Chief of the Defence Staff.

He was promoted to corporal while in Italy. He recalls his service: “The medical tents in which we worked were moved frequently as the battle lines changed. Several times while working in these tents, we were even closer to the battle, as the artillery shots were directly overhead. At one time, a barrage lasted for at least two days non-stop. Shrapnel, loud, low-flying planes and mortar fire were exploding close by on numerous occasions.”

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Major Joel Bernier, Commanding Officer 11 Canadian Forces Health Services Centre, presents the RCMSA certificate signifying Cpl (retd) John Pauls’ Lifetime Membership, to Cpl (retd) John Pauls’ daughter, Marlene Pauls Laucht. (Credit: Cpl Tanner Musseau-Seaward)

The Lifetime Membership bestowed on Cpl (retd) Pauls came with a certificate and a coin to accompany the honour. Both were presented to his daughter, Marlene Pauls Laucht, on October 2, 2020, near Winnipeg’s Saint-Boniface Cathedral War Memorial by the 11 Canadian Forces Health Services Centre Shilo Command Team. Cpl (retd) Pauls could not attend the presentation in person due to COVID-19 protocols currently in place to protect residents of the long-term care facility where he resides.

The Command Team also took the opportunity to present his daughter with a Quilt of Valour from the Quilts of Valour - Canada Society to give to her father. The Quilt of Valour is handmade in Canada and is presented to soldiers, past and present, in gratitude for their service. This particular quilt was provided by the Canadian Forces Base Shilo Transition Centre and it reads: Handmade with love, respect and gratitude for your sacrifice to Canada. May the hugs stitched into this quilt give you comfort, strength and love.

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The Quilt of Valour is presented to Marlene Pauls Laucht, daughter of Cpl (retd) John Pauls, by the 11 Canadian Forces Health Services Centre Command Team. The Quilt of Valour is handmade in Canada and is presented to soldiers, past and present, in gratitude for their service. (Credit: Cpl Tanner Musseau-Seaward)

The presentation respected physical distancing, but still gave the Command Team an opportunity to share fond memories with Cpl (retd) Pauls’ daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter, and to honour his service to Canada.

Cpl (retd) Pauls was discharged from the RCAMC after the war, following demobilization; however, his medical service to his comrades did not end there. He became a medical orderly and eventually a supervisor at the Deer Lodge Veterans' Hospital in Winnipeg, where he worked for 30 years, taking care of his fellow brothers and sisters in arms.

Cpl (retd) Pauls has now received his certificate, coin and quilt, which are proudly on display in his room. Marlene Pauls Laucht said, “My dad is already using the beautiful quilt and enjoying the extra layer of warmth. He was pleased when I described the presentation, showed him the pictures we took and showed him the certificates and medallion. The certificate sits on his picture board in his room and the quilt covers and decorates the bed.”

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