Sapper Raymond Reginald Sparkes, B25474

"He died the helpless to defend, Faithful soldier, Noble end." - Sapper Sparkes' headstone at Beny-Sur-Mer Cemetery
Beny-Sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery – The Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, located at Reviers, about 4 kilometres from Juno Beach in Normandy, France. (J. Stephens)

6th Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers

Raymond Reginald Sparkes was born on 3 February 1922 in Toronto to Sidney W. and Della M. Sparkes, of Richvale ON. When he enlisted at No 2 Depot, RCE in Toronto on 14 February 1941, he listed his trade as a tractor driver. He joined the 6th Field Company, RCE on 16 June 1941 when they were in Debert NS awaiting embarkation for the United Kingdom. Two days after he arrived, they sailed for England.

Within a year, Sapper Sparkes was a qualified carpenter. For the first summer, the unit was heavily involved in building the camps required for the accommodation of the increasing number of Canadian troops in England. After that until the end of 1942, the Company was heavily committed to training – both in developing technical Combat Engineering skills required for warfare, as well as participating in a number of exercises to develop their team skills and ability to support Combat Arms units. 1943 saw the training emphasis focusing on Assault Training with its focus further sharpening in the first few months of 1944 to the preparations for the D-Day landing and assault.

Shortly before D-Day, Sparkes was engaged to Miss Doreen Daisy Mabel Middleton from London who he had known for 18 months. On 18 May 1944, he received permission from the Army to marry her with his Commanding Officer commenting, “This man has been with the unit for over three years and is thoroughly reliable and hard working. I recommend permission be granted.”

On D-Day, Sapper Sparkes was a member of Corporal P.H.Wilkinson’s sub-section supporting No 11 Platoon of The Royal Winnipeg Rifles in the first wave. Corporal Wilkinson was wounded by machine gun fire during the landing. Sapper Sparkes was killed by an extended burst of machine gun fire. He is buried in the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in France.

..... Based on Research conducted by the 6th Field Engineer Squadron Museum Association.