Sapper Howard Stolar, L104205

Sapper Stolar's 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)

5th Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers

Howard Stolar was born in Willowbrook SK on 17 July 1922 to George and Katie Stolar. One of six boys, with two sisters, he left school at age 14 having completerd Grade VII. He was single and worked as a farmer before the war but had ambitions of becoming a blacksmith.

Howard enlisted on 9 January 1943 in Regina SK. On 31 March he arrived at the A6 Canadian Engineer training Centre in Chilliwack BC to undertake his Field Engineer training. After completing his training, he embarked for England on 26 August 1943 and was assigned to the Canadian Engineer Reinforcement Unit upon arrival. After achieving a Blacksmith qualification he joined the 5th Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers in England on 6 April 1944. At this time, the unit’s training was in the final stages of preparation for the eventual assault on the Continent. On 2 June 1944, the Company loaded the Landing Craft Tanks (LCT) for the crossing to Normandy. After a 24 hour we24-hour delay, they pulled out of Southampton docks on 6 June and proceeded to cross the English Channel to the Normandy beaches.

When the assault craft reached the beaches at approximately 0745 hours on 6 June, they found that the tides were considerably higher than had been anticipated. Most of the craft destined for “Nan” Beach grounded in deep water. This caused the Company considerable difficulty in getting off their equipment and personnel. Heavy German mortar and machine gun fire opened on the craft and caused several casualties before they could completely disembark. The Beach Parties were eventually able to get their personnel and equipment out of the craft. Most enemy obstacles were submerged, however, and it was not possible to clear them as planned. As the tide receded the personnel were organized into three main obstacle clearing parties and they immediately started removing mines and shells from the obstacles and clearing them with the bulldozers.

During the first two hours on the beach, 5th Field Company lost one Officer, one Sergeant, One Corporal and two Sappers as well as 17 wounded due to heavy enemy fire. Sapper Howard Stolar was one of those killed. Howard was 21 years old when he died. He is buried at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in France.

... Based on research conducted by the Canadian Military Engineers Association and the 5th Field Company Veterans' Association