It is perhaps Canada’s most famed photograph from the Second World War. A young boy has broken free of his mother’s restraints to run after his father marching in formation heading off to war.
Captured by Claude P. Dettloff, the photograph, dubbed “Wait For Me, Daddy,” was picked up by the Associated Press and LIFE magazine and came to symbolize familial love and the heartbreak of wartime separation.
It was the last photograph of the family ever together.
“That’s probably the last time we were together as a nuclear family, as they put it today,” Warren “Whitey” Bernard told CTVNews. “We were never together again as a family after that moment.”
While Bernard’s father, Jack, survived the war, his parent’s marriage did not.
Jack was a sergeant in the local militia in Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, but his unit wasn’t activated. So he dropped his rank and enlisted as a private with the British Columbia Regiment, Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles.
“Therein lies the rub,” said Bernard, noting his mother didn’t want his father to join up.
“He was 33 years old, he had a dependent child, and she was madder than a hornet and she wanted him to wait until the BCDs, the B.C. Dragoons, were called up as a regiment and then he would have gone into the army as a sergeant, and of course a sergeant’s pay was twice what a buck private’s pay was,” Bernard continued.
Jack Bernard went on to land at Juno Beach, Normandy, on D-Day and fought in France and in the Netherlands.
He survived World War II, but the marriage didn’t survive the rift.
Jack returned to Canada in October 1945 and, as his train pulled into the station, Dettloff’s photography came full circle when he managed to capture the happy reunion of father and son.
“The day dad came home, my grandfather picked me up and took me to the station,” Bernard wrote in The Guardian. “That was probably the happiest day in my 10-year-old life.”