It is at this time of year, as the trees turn yellow and red, the leaves fall from the branches, that many of us take a moment to reflect upon the consequences of war. We think particularly of members of our family and those of other families who suffered in conflicts around the world. The deaths of millions of troops and civilians; the countless lives disrupted; and the devastation of farms, cities and countries. It is hard to understand the scale of the disruption and suffering.
The Canadians who served in those conflicts came from ordinary families asked to do the exceptional. They came from all over our country to serve across the world.
One such family was the Jocko family from the village of Madawaska, Ontario. Paul Jocko and Mary (nee Lavallee) had ten children; Margaret (1912), Peter (1914), James (1916), Leo (1919), Matt (1921), Katie (1923), Patrick (1924), William (1926), Cecil (1928) and Cecila (1930).
Six of the children served in the Canadian Forces, five in the Second World War.
Before enlisting in the Canadian Forces, the boys made their living in the forests around Madawaska, Ontario.
Paul Jocko died when the children were young. Peter Jocko the eldest boy was sickly so it fell to James Jocko the second eldest boy to support the family. He went to work in the lumber camps for J.R. Booth at 14 years of age. James Jocko would have carried lunches to the lumberjacks, cleaned the stables and gathered firewood. The money he sent home to his mother supported the whole family.
Later, James Jocko worked in Algonquin Park doing maintenance work in the Canoe Lake area.
James Jocko signed up in 1941. He became a sapper involved in the invasion of Sicily which led to the defeat of the Axis powers in Italy in the Second World War. A sapper is a field engineer who would have worked on building and destroying bridges and roads.
Peter Jocko also served in the Second World War.
Get your November 4, 2015 edition of The Valley Gazette to read the full story.