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Monday, February 17, 2020
 
 
Corporal Philip V. Alexander
  (The following profile of Philip V. Alexander is based upon the biographical summary prepared by his son Philip H. Alexander, B.A.Sc., M.A.Sc., P.Eng.)

Philip Valoure Alexander was born in Raleigh Township, Kent County, Ontario on October 1916. He was trained as a Carpenter and in 1940 he was happy to be among his fellow carpenters building the army training camp near Chatham, Ontario. This was a highly sought after position as the carpenters were paid 90 cents per hour, a full 50 cents more per hour than

Corporal Philip V. Alexander

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  those individuals assigned as general labourers. In fact, Alexander remembers how many untrained individuals would purchase new tools and try to pass as carpenters in order to receive the higher rate of pay.
 

In 1942 Alexander was called into the service and underwent basic training in Chatham and advanced training in Listowel. He achieved the rank of Corporal early in his army career. Cpl. Alexander was posted in several locations across Canada and in New York.

He was disappointed that he and a fellow African Canadian soldier were removed from a troop assigned to duty in the Aleutian Islands due to the participation of American soldiers who served in racially segregated units.

In addition to regular duty he also volunteered for duty at the Suffield base in Alberta which involved being the subject of experimentation on the effects of mustard gas. He bears a small scar from this experience. The Canadian government began providing compensation to the volunteers injured in this testing.

Cpl. Alexander has many dramatic and often humorous tales to tell of his time in the armed forces. Amongst these are stories of having guarded German prisoners of war being transported on trains to a remote location in Northern Ontario. He remembers that they posed an unlikely flight risk and seemed to be relieved that the war was over for them.

Beginning in September of 1944 he served in England, Scotland, Italy, France, Belgium and finally Germany as part of the occupation. He recalls the characteristic ‘stiff upper lip’ of the British displayed when V2 bombs and rockets nearby disrupted a Christmas service at Westminster Abbey he was told by an Englishman that “it was just another Christmas present from the Germans.”

On August 19th, the end of the war in Japan was declared, and he was returned to Aldershot, England to await his turn to be reunited with his family. Following his time in the armed forces he returned to his position with the Ford Motor Company in Windsor. He later went into business for himself. Cpl. Alexander is retired and continues to reside in Windsor.

 
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The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.

 

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