L/Sgt Worden: Found

I feel ecstatic. I finally found Lance Sergeant Edwin Worden–and he was only a few blocks from my home. He is honoured at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa–his photo huge and happy hovering over the Royal Canadian Legion’s Hall of Honour.

And so, I am pleased to finally introduce you to LSgt Edwin Worden–he is every bit the handsome lad that I imagined he would be:

LSgt Worden’s military portrait on display at the Canadian War Museum (photo credit: Lost and Found Books)

The Hall of Honour is very moving. It is peaceful and dark. A quiet place of contemplation and remembrance.

LSgt Worden’s portrait overlooks the Hall of Honour, Canadian War Museum. (Photo credit: Lost and Found Books)

The tribute to LSgt Worden is contained in this Second World War exhibit:

Canadian War Museum. (Photo Credit: Lost and Found Books)

This exhibit, though small, includes many artefacts that have helped me piece together my final portrait of  LSgt Worden: A journey that started with a soldier’s D-Day letter, and my question: Was it his last?

October 10, 1916:

Edwin is born in Regina, Saskatchewan, the son of Edward and Julia Worden.

1940-1944: The war years

At age 24, Edwin enlists in the Canadian Army to serve in the Second World War. He is an infantryman with the Royal Regina Regiment. On August 24, 1941, he ships out to England, where he spends three-years training for D-Day.

Early in 1944, he marries Lily Baldwin of Brighton, East Sussex, England.

June 5, 1944:

Worden writes a D-Day letter home to his wife Lily: “So promise darling you will not worry for I’ll be allright and home befor you know it.”

June 6, 1944:

LSgt Worden survives D-Day, and goes on to fight for many months towards Victory in Europe.

April 8, 1945:

LSgt Worden is killed in action, April 8, 1945, in the Netherlands. Only one month before VE Day.

He is 28 years old.

His death is recorded on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission directory.

May 27, 1945:

King George VI sends this letter of condolence to Mrs. Lily Worden “on the death of, L27027, Lance Sergeant Edwin Owen Worden”:

On display at the Canadian War Museum. (Photo credit: Lost and Found Books)

LSgt Worden is buried in the Holten Canadian War Cemetery, Netherlands, which is the resting place of 1,394 Commonwealth servicemen who died during the last months war in Holland and Germany:

He is widely decorated for his valor. Here are just a few of his medals:

LSgt Worden’s medals on display at the Canadian War Museum. (Photo credit: Lost and Found Books)

And, he has a son named Donald Edward Worden. In the photo below (centre, bottom), Donald is tucked in close to his mother looking down at his father’s grave in the Netherlands (1951):

Photos and artefacts of LSgt Edwin Worden, Canadian War Museum. (Photo credit: Lost and Found Books)

His parents, who remained in Saskatchewan, Canada, outlived their son by many years: His father Edward died on May 2, 1956 at age 71 years. His mother Julia died Feb 29, 1960 at age 80.

It would be nice to think that Worden met his son, and saw Lily one more time before his death. But it is doubtful.

Not the ending I was hoping for when I first read his letter home to Lily…“You and I can be together sooner something I have allways prayed for and I know you have to.”

LSgt Worden is not alone. He is a casualty of the deadliest military conflict in history: an estimated 22 to 25 million military personnel killed and some 40 to 52 million civilians dead by the end of the war.

On my way to finding LSgt Worden at the Canadian War Museum, I found this memorial to another hero of the Second World War–Raoul Wallenberg. Not a soldier, but a Swedish architect and businessman who risked his life to save tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust.

Where would we be today if individuals like Wallenburg and Worden did not sacrifice so much to save so many?

Here are words from a beautiful speech honouring Mr. Wallenberg, his legacy and our collective responsibility:

“During World War II, Raoul Wallenberg could have chosen to live a life of comfort and safety with his loving family. Instead, he risked his life to save the lives of others…

Raoul Wallenberg’s life-giving legacy reminds us of a question that we should all be asking, amidst the daily business and the pull of our national interests: How do we ensure that every individual – regardless of race or religion – is able to live a life of freedom, a life with dignity and respect? How do we prevent the sins of history and our past failures to stop mass killings of civilians, from being repeated? How do we pass on to the next generation a sense of the importance of not being indifferent?” ~William J. Burns, Deputy Secretary, Stockholm, Sweden, at a memorial tree dedication, May 14, 2012

I believe these words hold true for our soldier, too.

The final word goes to LSgt Worden, and his final goodbye to Lily:

To read this story from the beginning:

Part 1: Finding Lance Sergeant Worden: His D-Day Letter home…was it his last?

Part 2: LSgt Worden joins the army

Part 3: LSgt Worden goes in to battle: “The big day has come”

Part 4: LSgt Worden’s bitter-sweet victory in Europe: A story in pictures

Part 5: LSgt Worden: Found

4 comments

  1. My name is Keith Worden and I live in Armstrong, B. C. I have been trying to put together a family
    album and I believe Edwin Owen must be a cousin. I was raised in Manitoba as was my dad and my uncles. I had an uncle Ed, but always thought he was Edwin, not Edward. However, if Lsgt Edwin Owen’s mother’s maiden name was Stuart that would be fairly certain we are cousins.

    • Hello Keith! Wonderful to connect with Edwin’s family. I didn’t dig very deeply into his family tree–but you could probably find more information about his mother (and her maiden name) and father from Saskatchewan census data or possibly from National Archives in Ottawa. You may be right about your Uncle’s name — he is listed as Edward in some places, and Edwin in other places: the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records his father as “Edward” at http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2228165/WORDEN,%20EDWIN%20OWEN, while the cemetary he is buried in records him as “Edwin” at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cansacem/broadview.html. His son’s name is Donald Edward, born in England. Does anyone remember your cousin going to war? Did he have any siblings? Good luck tracing your family history, and thank you for your message.

  2. Hi there, I just came across this link because I was intrigued by the Worden’s letter reproduction I found in a WWII book. I hope you find out more about this brave man. Good luck.
    In the book “The D-Day Experience” author Richard Holmes included a letter written by Lance Sargeant Worden to his wife while on the boat waiting to cross the Channel on D-Day. It reads “To my darling wife: how are you to-night? Fine I hope. Lee darling I find it very hard to write this to you. I only wish I could have seen you but I can say this. I am fine, and feel 100 percent for I know I have someone waiting for me who is very brave and knows how to smile. We are going in to-morrow morning as I write this we are out on the water so the big day has come. I often had wondered how I would feel but I don’t feel any difference [sic], as I ever did befor [sic]. Thanks to you I know I can truthful [sic] say if it was not for you I would feel different [sic]. But it is the love and trust I have for you and that will help me over many a rough spot. I am glad in it away [sic] that it has come, for it means you and I can be together sooner. Something I have allways [sic] prayed for and I know you have to [sic]. So promise darling you will not worry for I’ll be allright and home befor you know it. Just you and mum look after each other, and time will pass swiftly. Now before I close I want to say again that I love you very much and you mean the world to me. So now darling I’ll say good-night and God bless you till we meet again soon. Yours forever, love Ted. P.S. Tell mum that I am thinking of her too and not to worry but look after you. I am enclosing a message they gave us good-night i’ll wright as soon as I get a chance.”

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