After the victorious end of World War II in August of 1945, those who had served in Her Majesty’s military services and survived the horrors of war began to return home. For Many it would be a resumption of their lives which had been interrupted by the war. Others would be looking forward eagerly to new careers, new opportunities and a new start in what they hoped would be a better world.
While much of these dreams and ambitions had to do with making a successful living, marrying, beginning families and those many things which occupy the lives of citizens, there were other aspects of life which would help enrich it, such as recreation, and taking part in organizations which would enhance the life of the community. New Hamburg residents welcomed their returning veterans and in turn the veterans showed they wished to help improve the community in various ways.
After a number of veterans had discussed casually the possibility of forming a Legion Branch in New Hamburg, several took the initiative and called a meeting. An invitation went out to former service personnel, and an initial meeting was held in the Town hall (on second floor of the old fire hall, replaced in 1969) Wednesday evening, November 7, 1951.
The minutes of that first meeting stated the following: “The purpose of this meeting was to arrange for New Hamburg and vicinity veterans to organize a branch of the Canadian Veterans’ Legion at New Hamburg.”
The meeting was called to order by George Thomas who was New Hamburg’s first Chief of Police and who was a veteran of the European war. Mr Harold Gellatley of the Kitchener Legion Branch was introduced to the group by Harry Grundenberger. Following Gellatley’s address to those present, a motion that a local branch be formed was moved by Alfred Richards and seconded by John Neilson. After the motion was carried by a vote, James Van de Water and Phil Gies also of the Kitchener Legion spoke briefly on the benefits and purposes of a Legion Branch.
About 50 members of the local Legion branch journeyed to Kitchener Sunday December 9th 1951 for initiation services which were held at Branch 50 Legion Hall in Kitchener. Forty of the men were initiated and became members, while the others had already belonged to the Kitchener Legion Branch. A reconstruction of the list of members initiated included the following: John Baird, Fred Broda, Frank Cleary, Don Coxon, Harry Dick, Woodrow Doerr, Douglas Eichler, George Emslie, Jr., Henry Fischer, Walter Gardner, Harry Grunenberger, Maurice Hammer, Eric Harding, James Harrison, Carl Hinz, Gordon Junker, Dr. Harry Katzenmeier, Lloyd Kilgour, Clarence Kraemer, Emmett Kropf, Gordon McEllistrum, Clayton Miller, Clayton Naumann, John Neilson, Oville Pfaff, Donald Riehl, Jack Riehl, Alfred Richards, Ernst Ritz, Lorne Schaefer, John R. A. Scott, Carl Steiner, Goerge Thomas and Kenneth Wolfe.
Adapted from a tribute to 50 years of New Hamburg Legion by Comrade Ernie Ritz