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Wait for me, Daddy

Another not quite Wordless Wednesday…

I fear that becoming a dad has turned me into a bit of a softie, at least as far as kids are concerned. I ran across this photo on Pinterest. It had been pinned from some random Tumblr account with no details about its source. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this one certainly speaks volumes.

It’s pretty clear the boy has tugged away from his mom and is reaching for his dad who is in this column of soldiers apparently shipping off to war. I guessed it was World War II by their dress. I became mildly obsessed with the people in the photo, and wanted to know more. Did the dad make it back?

Wait for me Daddy by Claude P Dettloff, Oct 1, 1940

Eventually I traced this to photographer Claude P. Dettloff, who took it on October 1, 1940. The line of soldiers were The British Columbia Regiment, shown as they marched down Eighth Street at the Columbia Avenue intersection in New Westminster, Canada, on their way to a waiting train.

Claude very appropriately named this photo, “Wait for me, Daddy”, because, as it was being taken, a young five-year-old Warren “Whitey” Bernard tugged away from his mother, Bernice, to reach out for his father, Private Jack Bernard. I love the smiles on the soldiers just behind Private Bernard.

So that told me who it was in the photo, but what became of that father and son? I found out. The regiment was eventually sent to France and the Netherlands. Unlike so many who never returned to their loved ones, I’m happy to report Private Jack Bernard made it back to Whitey at the end of WWII.

If little Whitey Bernard is still alive, he’d be about 78 years old now. I’m not sure why it mattered so much to me, but I was glad to find his dad made it back home to him. On that note I’d like to add, to all of our brave men and women in harms way right now, get home soon, and get home safe. Godspeed.

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24 comments

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  1. Timmi

    What a lovely story. I too like to know the stories behind pictures.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you, Timmi. It became a bit of a detective story for me. I was very happy to find in the end the father and son were reunited. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  2. Justin - Writing Pad Dad

    I almost didn’t read this post because I didn’t want to read a sad ending! So glad I did! Awesome story and picture!
    Justin – Writing Pad Dad

    1. Michael Schmid

      Yeah, I was a bit worried about what I might find… or that I might not find anything at all. As I found each clue, I was able to narrow the scope of my search until I found very specific info. Appreciate you dropping by. I’ll definitely visit your latest post, as a $25 Starbucks giftcard sounds good to me. :)

  3. Kelli

    I often see pictures like this and wonder what the outcome was. I think it’s amazing that you took the time to follow up on it, and wonderful that you found good news in the end! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi, Kelli. There’s a tool called “TinEye” (a plugin on Firefox) that allows easy image searches (better than Google’s version so far). It lets you pick a photo on the Internet and search for other websites that have hosted that photo. That helped me get started in my search. Have a great weekend (we’re almost there)!

  4. Charlie Hendricks

    Very touching.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks, Charlie! It touched me, but then I’ve become a big old teddy bear since having our little girl. 😉

  5. Larry Dunnigan

    A great photo and one that hung in every school classroom in British Columbia until the end of the war. Warren “Whitey” Bernard retired to Tofino, British Columbia and opened a small marina/gas station/hardware store that is now run by his son Steven. You can read more at the History of Vancouver website.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Larry. Thank you so much for that information! I guess it was well known in Canada. My wife knew it from my description alone. I must be the only one who’d not seen it. It’s quite evocative. Have a great week, Larry.

  6. LCpl In the BCR

    This photo is pinned up against the wall in the armoury I parade in. It’s nice to see something so famous, so close to something a part of me. I am in the BCR (2381 BCR, Irish Fusiliers, Duke of Connaughts Own)as a Lance Corporal.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you for stopping by, Lance Corporal. I’m happy to know this photo is still in circulation and honoring the bravery of the British Columbia Regiment, then and now. A poignant personal moment, indeed.

  7. Candace Macpherson

    Hi there, Michael ~

    Thought you might like to know that you can see Claude’s October 1944 photo of the reunion between Whitey and his Dad at this address: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-e0F1dXTav8k/UYXpkSNYwgI/AAAAAAAAJHg/HVfw9-dDm8E/s1600/returning+home.jpg

    Cheers.
    ~ Candace (CPD’s granddaughter)

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you so much, Candace! I’ve not seen it.

  8. Jackie Carmichael

    PLease contact me. I have some information, would like to talk with you about Whitey Bernard. I’m doing a story about him for a newspaper.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Jackie. Per my email, I’d be happy to help, though I know little more about Whitey’s story than what’s contained in this post and the comments. Drop me a line and let me know how I can assist you. Have a super evening!

  9. Kathy Henley

    Thanks for your blog. I’ve known of this photo for years but just actually found out its title just yesterday. My husbands grandfather is standing right behind Mr Bernard. Also a friends grandfather is only one or two behind him. Grampa made it thru the war and passed away December 1986.

    1. Michael Schmid

      I’m so glad you finally found it. How wonderful to have your Grampa captured in this slice of frozen time. His face always stood out to me as I looked at the men marching with Pte Bernard.Thank you so much for your comment, Kathy. Here’s a slightly larger excerpt (unretouched):

  10. Sue

    They recently did an article about the little boy, now a senior, on Yahoo news

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/39-wait-daddy-39-boy-revisits-spot-iconic-013659866.html

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks so much for sharing this, Sue. :) How wonderful the City of New Westminster is putting up a monument with three statues of the boy, his mom and dad, to be located in the exact location near the intersection of Eighth Street and Columbia Street where the photograph was taken!

  11. Adrianne

    Wow! This is a great story that you shared! I love stories like this and love that there are still people in this world who care enough to find answers to some of life’s mysteries. I’m sure that this family would be so happy that you took the time to do so. Well done:-)

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks, Adrianne. I’m rather sentimental that way… especially after having my own child. Since this post has went up I’ve even heard from the grandchildren of other soldiers in that photo. Also, I just found out they are going to celebrate that moment with a monument to be placed on the exact spot this photo was shot. More on that here: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/39-wait-daddy-39-boy-revisits-spot-iconic-013659866.html

  12. Shelley

    It think third soldier that is behind Bernard is my father . Not quite sure do you have anymore info where to get their names or exactly where they came from.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi, Shelley. How cool your father may be among the soldiers in this iconic photo. I’ve been unable to find the names of the other men, except the one immediately behind Bernard… see a comment by Kathy (kenhen2004@yahoo.ca) several above this one. Sorry I can’t be more help identifying your father, Shelley. Wishing you and yours all the best in the new year.

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