Frank Hildebrant, resident at Cherry Park Retirement Residence in Penticton, is a veteran who served in the army in the Second World War. (Contributed)

Frank Hildebrant, resident at Cherry Park Retirement Residence in Penticton, is a veteran who served in the army in the Second World War. (Contributed)

Penticton resident recalls WWII experience

77 years after being shot in battle Frank Hildebrant still has shrapnel in his chest

It’s been 75 years since the end of the Second World War, and while the number of war vets still alive to mark Remembrance Day continues to dwindle, a handful of them are in Penticton.

According to Veterans Affairs Canada, 33,200 WWII veterans are still alive in Canada, including 7,500 in British Columbia.

The number of active case plans with Veterans Affairs in Penticton is 494, giving Penticton the highest concentration of living war vets being served by Veterans Affairs in the province.

At age 96, Penticton resident Frank Hildebrant is one of the few remaining WWII veterans living in Penticton.

When he was 19, Hildebrant shipped out with the rest of the Winnipeg Rifles for Holland. It was 1943, the middle of WWII.

“For two days we were just walking along and didn’t see any [Nazis] at all, and we were just checking the houses and stuff,” Hildebrant said.

Everything changed the next day.

READ MORE: Historian brings colour to the lives of Similkameen men on the battlefield

“There were some tanks out there. One of them fired and I got hit,” he said. “I didn’t feel anything. I just grabbed my rifle and held it.”

Hildebrant was immediately put on a stretcher. The nearest jeep took him to a field hospital, where he spent the night, before being transferred to a hospital further from the front-lines.

Hildebrant joined the army in 1942, at the age of 18. He grew up in a very small town near Regina, Saskatchewan, and had a job with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Because of his job with the railway, Hildebrant didn’t have to join the army, but he didn’t realize his job was considered an essential service at the time. And, as he said himself: “Well, somebody had to go over there.”

Hildebrant was almost immediately sent overseas to Holland with the Winnipeg Rifles. After he was shot, Hildebrant spent three months in hospital before returning to his battalion to continue fighting in the war. To this day, 77 years later, he still has shrapnel in his chest from the incident.

When the war ended Hildebrant was sitting in a large hotel on the waterfront.

“There was a huge celebration with everyone in town,” he said.

Afterwards, Hildebrant was part of the occupational force in Germany for a year and a half. He left the army in 1947 and returned home, where he returned to his job with the Canadian Pacific Railway.

In 1952 he married Louise, whom he first met when he was 16. They had a daughter, and “a wonderful life” together.

Frank worked his way up the ranks, eventually becoming an engineer with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Louise worked as a hairdresser and had jobs around the world, even working in New York City at one time.

Today, Hildebrant is 96 and continues to enjoy life at Cherry Park Retirement Residence in Penticton.

READ MORE: COVID-19 changes Remembrance Day in Penticton



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Remembrance DayWorld War II

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Overhead lights have been installed at the Oliver skatepark so kids can enjoy the park longer during winter hours. (Argon photo)
Community lights up Oliver skatepark, calling it a ‘game changer’ for youth

Both the dog park and Small Wheels Skatepark have lighting now

Pathways
LETTER: Pathways chair says ‘wet houses’ can be part of solution but only with proper supports

Sherry Ure says we need to all come together and help our neighbours

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Chelsea Ishizuka was borned and raised in Penticton but has now moved to Japan. When she found out there was a popular restaurant there named after Penticton, she had to go check it out. Here she is with the owner (right). (Facebook)
Popular restaurant in Japan named after city of Penticton

A Pentictonite now living in Tokyo discovered the eatery and the history behind its name

There is no true picture of how many youth in Penticton are experiencing housing instability or true homelessness. The Foundry and the city of Penticton are trying to find that out.
How many youth are experiencing homelessness in Penticton?

Foundry Penticton and the City have partnered on a youth survey open until March 13

Five Kelowna writers are featured in an anthology that launched in time for International Women's Day. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
International Women’s Day: Book exploring fears features Kelowna writers

The book has launched in time for International Women’s Day

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
One of two Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreaks declared over

One outbreak declared over after two deaths, seven cases; another outbreak remains ongoing in the hospital

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna care home after 12 cases noted

Two staff members and 10 residents at Cottonwoods Care Centre have tested positive for COVID-19

Coldstream’s Kalamalka Secondary has teamed up with Globox on a fundraising raffle for its graduating class of 2021. (Photo supplied)
Okanagan secondary school grads glowing over fundraiser

Kalamalka Secondary teams with company on fundraising raffle, replacing annual apple pie fundraiser

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Multiple people were injured at a Vernon home following an early-morning break-in Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Multiple people left injured following break-and-enter in Vernon

Police believe the early-morning break-in was targeted and not a threat to the general public

Most Read