March 3, 2017 – FG
The volunteers at The Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum interviewed their first Second World War veteran, Reverend Wesley Oake, for a Remembrance Project. The purpose of the interviews is to record history from those who lived it.
Rev Oake, a native of Beaumont, Long Island, now living in Gander, served in the 166th (Newfoundland) Field Regiment during the Second World War. He saw action in Italy near Monte Cassino and the Sangro River.
Oake was the first veteran to be interviewed by the museum in their Remembrance project to highlight the connection of the two Newfoundland artillery regiments of the Second World War. Today’s Royal Newfoundland Regiment is heir to the traditions of the 166th and 59th (Newfoundland) Heavy Regiments. After Confederation in 1949, both the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the 166th were formed as units within the Canadian Army. In the early 1960’s the 166th amalgamated with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment giving the famed regiment a world class marching band while making it one of the few infantry regiments in Canada with their own artillery.
The remembrance project was the idea of Dale Hutchings, a member of the museum committee who came up with the concept after a discussion on how the museum could improve the collection from those who served in the artillery during the Second World War.
On Tuesday February 28, 2017, Museum Chair Frank Gogos, member Peter Noel, whose father served with Rev. Oake, and volunteers Peter Barfoot and Perry Greenham interviewed Oake in the Royal Canadian Legion branch in Gander.
The interview was recorded on video and the museum plans to produce a documentary based on the interviews. It is hoped that it will be ready in the fall. Eventually all the raw footage and recordings made during the process will be made available through the Museum’s website, social media and YouTube channel and become a permanent collection within the museum’s archival holdings. Meanwhile there are more soldiers to be interviewed in the coming weeks.
If you know of soldiers of either the 59th (Newfoundland) Heavy or 166th (Newfoundland) Field Regiments who wish to participate in the interviews the museum can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 709-733-3910. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum collection can be viewed by appointment or most Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The Museum is located in the Sir Anthony Paddon Building, Canadian Forces Base St. John’s. You can follow or like them on Facebook and Twitter @RNFLDRMuseum.