The iconic photograph “Wait For Me Daddy” captures a heart-wrenching moment in Canadian history during World War II. Taken on October 1, 1940, in New Westminster, British Columbia, the image has become a symbol of the sacrifices made by families during wartime and the enduring human connection that transcends the horrors of conflict.
By the fall of 1940, World War II was in full swing. Canada, as part of the British Commonwealth, had joined the war effort alongside Allied forces. The conflict had spread across Europe and beyond, and Canadian troops were being deployed to various theaters of war.
The soldiers depicted in the photograph were members of the British Columbia Regiment, also known as the Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles. They were part of the Canadian Army and were being sent off to join the war effort. The regiment had a deep-rooted history in British Columbia and had been called upon to serve in both World Wars.
Claude P. Dettloff, a photographer for the Vancouver Daily Province newspaper, captured the now-iconic image. The photograph is powerful in its simplicity. It features a line of soldiers marching in formation, their faces reflecting a mix of determination and uncertainty. Among them, a young boy named Warren “Whitey” Bernard is reaching out for his father, Private Jack Bernard, who is among the departing soldiers.
What makes “Wait For Me Daddy” particularly poignant is the raw emotion it conveys. At the forefront of the image is Whitey Bernard, a five-year-old boy, who tugs away from his mother’s hand, yearning to reach out for his father. The anguish on his mother’s face is palpable as she watches her son’s desperate attempt to connect with his departing father.
“Wait For Me Daddy” quickly gained widespread recognition and became an enduring symbol of the sacrifices made by families during wartime. The image resonated with people across Canada and beyond, as it captured the universal themes of separation, longing, and the human cost of war.
The photograph served as a reminder of the human face of war, illustrating the profound impact of military deployments on families. It also highlighted the resilience and courage displayed by loved ones left behind. During the war, “Wait For Me Daddy” was used in various ways, including on posters promoting war bonds and in recruiting campaigns, emphasizing the importance of the war effort.
In 1995, a bronze statue titled “Wait For Me Daddy” was erected in New Westminster, British Columbia, to commemorate this powerful moment in history. The statue depicts the scene captured in the photograph, immortalizing the emotional connection between Whitey Bernard and his father.
“Wait For Me Daddy” is a timeless and emotionally charged image that encapsulates the human toll of war and the strength of the human spirit. It serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by families during World War II and has become an enduring symbol of hope, love, and the enduring bond between soldiers and their loved ones.
Claude P. Dettloff’s photograph continues to touch the hearts of people around the world, preserving the memory of that fateful day in October 1940 and the countless families affected by the ravages of war.