Browser Compatibility Notification
It appears you are trying to access this site using an outdated browser. As a result, parts of the site may not function properly for you. We recommend updating your browser to its most recent version at your earliest convenience.

Emergency? Call 9-1-1

Non-Emergency? Call 1 (866) 876-5423

Alf Neely

Decrease Text Size Default Text Size Increase Text Size |
Print Link

Officer in front of memorial stone

A man in a blazer holds a loon bankSadly, Alf Neely passed away in early 2016.

In 1942, at the tender age of 20, Alf Neely enlisted in the Canadian Army along with all of his friends.  Mr. Neely was not the first member of his family to join the Canadian Military. His father served during the First World War, with his three brothers following in his footsteps serving during the Second World War - two in the Army and one in the Navy.

Shortly after joining the Army, he was sent by ship to Liverpool, England for training and then to Naples to provide reinforcement. He soon found himself on the frontline earning $1.50 a day.

During one memorable battle, Alf stayed spent a long night in a trench alongside a fallen soldier laying covered beside him. The next morning, his company packed up and advanced approximately 16 kilometres before encountering more German soldiers.

"While we were in the trenches, the Germans began throwing hand grenades at us," said Mr. Neely. "I left the coat I was wearing on top of the trench and it was hit by a grenade. I was hit by shrapnel in the hand, which was the only injury I had in battle."

There were periods of time where Mr. Neely would spend weeks in the trenches with no warm baths or showers, surviving  on small amounts of rations.

He remembers the exact moment the war was declared over. "I was in Holland, dug into a trench, and the only method of communication was from the tanks that would come by and give updates on the enemy," he recalls.  "I remember throwing my helmet in the air and everyone hugging one another.  I knew I was finally going home and I was free. It was the happiest day of my life."

Mr. Neely's discharge papers never left his wallet. Today, the papers are illegible, the memory of being released from active duty will be forever etched in his memory.

In 1946, Mr. Neely returned to his family and for the very first time, laid eyes on his first daughter, born while he was serving overseas.

Mr. Neely began a new career in the heating and air conditioning industry. He and his wife, Ada, moved into their Newmarket home in 1954 and raised their two daughters. Sadly, after more than 67 years of marriage, Alf recently lost his wife.

He continues to remain active within the community. As the Sergeant of Arms, he demonstrates his commitment to his community by participating in every event in which Branch 426 is involved.

Mr. Neely, now 88, decided to hang up his skates at the age of 80 to make room for younger players in their sixties. However, this doesn't mean more time to rest. He stays active golfing once a week and bowling three days a week.

He also loves to work with his hands, demonstrating his skill in his basement workshop.  Mr. Neely's family has been the recipient of many of his handcrafted projects. Each of his grandchildren - three grandsons and a granddaughter - slept in a handcrafted piece of furniture made with his skilled hands. Mr. Neely's eight great-grandchildren have also each received a special handcrafted piece from their hero.

His grandson is continuing in his family's proud military tradition, now serving a third tour in Afghanistan. 

Mr. Neely is deeply touched when he is recognized by members of the community. On one occasion, he recalls a motorist following him through the streets of Newmarket. After pulling into his driveway, he inquired, "What can I do for you?" The other driver replied that he had seen the war veteran symbol on his licence plate and just wanted to say thanks. 

Mr. Neely would really like to see those in his community open their homes up and get to know their neighbours, like it was years ago when everybody was friendly with one another.

Photo Gallery: Alf Neely will appear here on the public site.