UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Rev. Ted Kersey. Photo by the Oakville Beaver

Q&A with Rev. Ted Kersey

By Nancy Fornasiero


Earlier this year, retired United Church minister Rev. Ted Kersey was awarded the rank of the Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour for his involvement in the liberation of France during the Second World War. Journalist Nancy Fornasiero sat down with Kersey, just in time for Remembrance Day, as he shared some memories of that time in his life.

Q What made you decide to enlist back in 1943?

A I was working in Courtice, near my home in the village of Hampton, as a woodworker. I enjoyed it a lot but when I turned 18, I knew wanted to serve our country. My first choice was the Air Force, but I was turned down because of my poor eyesight. My friends told me the easiest medicals to pass were for the Ordnace Corps, so that’s what I tried next. Sure enough, I was accepted. My parents weren’t too happy about it, though. It was hard on them. The memories of the hardships of the First World War were still on their minds. My dad had fought, and he never liked to talk about what he’d seen there. 

Q Tell me a bit about your experiences in France during the war.

A I was a DR [Dispatch Motorcycle Rider] so I never fought in combat, but I was in the thick of it in other ways. I saw the Battle of Caen take place, and after the breakthrough there my days were a blur. I would go night and day on my Norton. . . . I once went three weeks without undressing. I’d be sent out, come back, and report in. I’d snatch a few hours sleep, but didn’t undress because I’d be called at any moment and sent out again. I still remember what a gruesome sight it was to drive along that road from Caen to Falaise. The fighting was fierce, and the losses terrible, to both men and equipment.

Q Was it during your time in the service that you felt called to ministry?

Rev. Ted Kersey during the Second World War. Photo courtesy of Rev. Ted Kersey
Rev. Ted Kersey during the Second World War. Photo courtesy of Rev. Ted Kersey

A Not at all. After the war, I was happy to go back to woodworking. I loved it. But when our minister in the Hampton church called out for new candidates, I got an uncomfortable feeling, like maybe he was speaking to me. But I wasn’t sure at all. I kept thinking how unsuited I’d be — after all, for three years I had been taught to hate and kill. And now I’m supposed to talk about love? I would ask God about this, because I really wasn’t sure. Finally after praying on it, I told God, “Okay, I’ll give it a try, but I’m going to need a lot of help.” You know, doors just started opening after that. I’ve always been amazed at what God accomplished using my limited talents.

Q If you could have a dialogue like that with God, your faith must have been strong even during your Second World War days.

A Yes. I have to credit my grandmother for that foundation — she was a real saint. She gave me her Bible when I shipped off to France, and I carried it every day during the war. I still have that dog-eared Bible.

Q How does it feel being recognized as a hero by the French government?

A I’m honoured, but I don’t think “hero” is the right word. We all felt the same way back then. Our freedom was threatened. Somebody had to stand up. Why not me? I was just doing my bit.



Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

A perfect send-off

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: A Tale of Two Cancers

by Observer Staff

Catherine Gordon's October 2017 feature for The Observer, 'A tale of two cancers,' recently caught the eye of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and his Washington, D.C.-based team, and inspired a short documentary. Gordon talks about the experience of writing the article and participating in the film.

Promotional Image

Society

November 2017

Trump country

by David Macfarlane

A northern Alabama county voted almost unanimously for Donald Trump in 2016. One year later, the writer, together with photographer Nigel Dickson, travels there to try to understand why.

Faith

November 2017

Involuntary pilgrim

by David Giuliano

The return of a tumour sets David Giuliano on a path he calls his ‘Camino de Cancer’

Faith

October 2017

A tale of two cancers

by Catherine Gordon

One year after the writer discovered she had breast cancer, her sister in California received the same diagnosis. They both recovered, but their experiences were worlds apart.

Society

November 2017

Trump country

by David Macfarlane

A northern Alabama county voted almost unanimously for Donald Trump in 2016. One year later, the writer, together with photographer Nigel Dickson, travels there to try to understand why.

Faith

November 2017

Involuntary pilgrim

by David Giuliano

The return of a tumour sets David Giuliano on a path he calls his ‘Camino de Cancer’

Faith

November 2017

Grey matter

by Trisha Elliott

Is consciousness just a function of the brain — or something more?

Promotional Image