The day peace was announced

Graduation day June, 1944. Five lieutenants in the RCAMC (left to right: Crawford, LaPierre, Barnett, Wells, and Smyth). Headed for junior internship then army officer training camps, graduating as captains.

Graduation day June, 1944. Five lieutenants in the RCAMC (left to right: Crawford, LaPierre, Barnett, Wells, and Smyth). Headed for junior internship then army officer training camps, graduating as captains.

November 11, 2015 | by Dr Henry Barnett

I graduated from an abbreviated Toronto medical course in June of 1944. My real interest as a youth was to become an ornithologist but that did not resonate well with my father or the culture of the times. Instead I decided upon medical school and have spent the past 71 years practicing medicine and exploring nature wherever and whenever I could.

Medical school was cut short by a year as our presence was thought to be quickly required on the battlefields of Europe. We graduated as lieutenants in RCAMC and became Captains after our officer training. The European war ended in May, 1945 and most of us were put in the 5th Division; a ship was standing by to take us somewhere in the Pacific when the Nagasaki bomb ended the war.

A small tale regarding the latter. An early day in June 1945, as I was walking in my lab coat in front of the General Hospital. As I gazed up at a tree full of migrating warblers, I became aware that a car on the road beside me squealed to a stop. Almost immediately I found myself being hugged from behind by a man in a three-piece grey suit with a gold watch chain. I looked at the stranger, and probably in alarm, perhaps with a frightened look on my face.

Immediately he exploded: "Don’t you know it’s all over? The Japanese will unconditionally surrender in Tokyo harbour a few minutes from now on the U.S. aircraft carrier." He shook my hand and said, "Sorry to frighten you sir but this is big news on a big day." Almost immediately all cars within hearing honked their horns and the jubilation of War’s end began. He raced back to his car still with the motor running and drove off to his job at Queen’s Park.

Two weeks earlier, in going to transfer to the active 5th Division assigned already to the ongoing war in the Pacific, I had been promoted to major. Toronto Army Headquarters quickly announced that promotions of the last fortnight were to be ignored. I reverted to captain but the reason for it was so joyful that I had no regrets.

I remember telling somebody that if I had been a major-general and reduced to private under the circumstances I would have been equally joyful!

This is the tenth in a series of blog posts Dr. Barnett will be contributing to Land Lines in the next few months.

Dr Henry Barnett and his son, Ian (Photo courtesy of Ian Barnett)

About the Author

Dr Henry Barnett Dr. Henry “Barney” Barnett obtained his Medical Degree from the University of Toronto in 1944. After obtaining specialty qualifications in Neurology at the Toronto General Hospital, he moved to Oxford to further his research training. He returned to Canada to enjoy an outstanding career in investigative medicine in Toronto and London. Dr Barnett is the author of hundreds of original publications and co-authored the authoritative textbook, Stroke: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis and Management. Along with Dr. Charles Drake, Dr. Barnett was the founding Chief of the Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences at University Hospital (London) and The University of Western Ontario in 1974. Between 1984 and 1992 he served as the founding President and Scientific Director of the John P. Robarts Research Institute in London. Late in his career, Dr. Barnett headed up the North American Symptomatic Carotid Endarterectomy Trial, the largest National Institute of Health (NIH) supported trial outside of the U.S. Dr. Barnett is best known for directing many of the most important large multi-centered clinical trials in stroke; including the first randomized trial to show that aspirin prevents stroke. Supported by the NIH of the United States, Dr. Barnett showed that a then widely used surgical treatment for stroke patients involving carotid artery bypass was less effective than good medical treatment.

Read more about Dr Henry Barnett.

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