Judith McIntosh recalls spending a lot of time listening to her father in the basement of her childhood home in Winnipeg.
He was very much in need of talking, and she was there to listen.
“My dad and I were very close; we supported each other a great deal. We would talk and cry together.”
McIntosh’s memories and stories shared with her dad are part of what helped the Comox Valley author write her second book, Daddy Went to War: A Young Girl’s Memoir of World War II.
The book is a dedication to her father – a doctor and war hero whom she explained spent four years overseas and returned home “suffering greatly” as he was dealing with death nearly every day.
About three years ago, McIntosh, 82, began thinking about the idea for the book, a few years before the 75th anniversary of the Second World War in 2020. Previously, she had completed her first book, Ecuador, La Mitad del Mundo, a memoir about a tale of a young family’s journey to Ecuador.
“I read something that said ‘you must write what you must never forget.’ So I wrote and wrote and rewrote a small book, and spent a lot of time with research. It took three years, and with my 80th birthday looming, I knew I had to get going.”
This past spring, McIntosh submitted her book to the publisher and it was officially published the first week of December.
Research was key to the book, she explained, a process which took significant time but also a factor which “opens up so much.”
McIntosh was two years old when her father went away to war. She recalls a few details – enough to know her dad was missing. She was around seven or eight when her father returned, and described him as a “very strong, smart, lovely man. But the war just wore him down.
“He was a devout Catholic, but when he came back, he lost faith in God and in people; the war devastated him. He was a wonderful father to me.”
Despite the hardships of war, McIntosh learned a number of lessons from her father. She recalled his compassion, sense of humour and his dedication and advocacy for veterans. Following the war, her father became the head of veteran affairs for the Deer Lodge Centre hospital in the city. His work with veterans inspired McIntosh to do the same – she is donating all proceeds of the book to the Comox Legion Branch #160.
“It would make my dad really happy,” she noted. “He was a generous man, and he taught me that. I think he would be very proud, happy and appreciative.”
Daddy Went to War: A Young Girl’s Memoir of World War II is available for purchase at Blue Heron Books in Comox or directly from McIntosh at firstname.lastname@example.org.