Canadian WW2 Veteran: “At 91, I am history, and I fear its repetition” [VIDEO]

“I am not an historian, but at 91, I am history, and I fear its repetition.”

by: Obert Madondo  | Published Thursday, Nov 13, 2014

Canadian World War II RAF veteran Harry Leslie Smith. (Photo: YouTube)

Canadian World War II RAF veteran Harry Leslie Smith. (Photo: YouTube)

Canadian World War II RAF veteran Harry Leslie Smith is concerned that the gains of the great war are being lost. He fears history’s repetition.

The history Smith, 91, is concerned about relates to the collective losses he’s witnessed in his lifetime. Particularly our losses sired by the free market fundamentalism of the postwar era: loss of the right to affordable health care, decent housing, a living wage, access to affordable education and erosion of western democracy. Smith is concerned that “unrestrained finance capital” will eventually condemn us to more mass deprivation and less democracy.

Smith experienced “almost Dickensian deprivation” while growing up in Yorkshire, UK, in the 1930s. He survived the Great Depression and later served with the RAF during World War II. After the war, he and his German wife Friede moved to Canada.

According The Guardian (UK), “Smith sees the postwar era, in particular the creation of the welfare state, as Britain’s finest moment, a compact between industry and labour, the middle and working classes, destroyed a half-century or more later by neoliberal economics and unrestrained finance capital.”

The Guardian adds: “All hope of greater equality or genuine democracy is now being swept away, here and in the US, by greedy corporations, the heedless tax-evading rich and near-corrupt governments, who ‘act like acolytes from a cult who worship profits over common sense’. This has returned the UK to the landscape of his childhood, in which ‘food poverty, like a tidal flood, has begun to encroach upon both city and suburban dwellers’.”

Smith will not bid us good night without a last stand. He recently published the book: “Harry’s Last Stand: How the World My Generation Built is Falling Down, and What We Can Do to Save It.”

Harry’s Last Stand calls on our generation to take up democratic arms and restore sanity.

“As one of the last remaining survivors of the Great Depression and the Second World War, I will not go gently into that good night,” Smith says in the video below. “I want to tell you what the world looks like through my eyes, so that you can help change it.”


In 2013, Smith rocked the Internet when he published an article titled “This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time” on The Guardian. The article was shared more than 60,000 on Facebook.

Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on

The following two tabs change content below.

Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based independent journalist and progressive political blogger. He's the publisher and editor of The Canadian Progressive.