A resident of Veterans Place in Yarmouth got an unexpected gift the other day.
Miff O’Connell, a 95-year-old veteran of the Second World War, was presented with a model of a Staghound armoured vehicle, the same kind he rode in during his wartime service overseas.
Rick Young of Falmouth, a maker of military models, had met O’Connell not long ago and decided to create a model for him.
Young had been in Digby for the Wharf Rat Rally and from there had travelled down to Yarmouth, where he had a chance to meet O’Connell.
“When I was talking to him,” Young said, “he was telling me that he was in the Royal Canadian Dragoons and that he’d been a bow gunner in a Staghound. I had a Staghound model (at) home. I figured Miff might like it for Christmas.”
The model, which is encased in glass, was a hit with its recipient, who said he never expected it.
“It was a big surprise,” O’Connell said with a hearty laugh.
A native of Little River Harbour, Yarmouth County, O’Connell spent almost three years overseas. He was wounded twice in the war and had a few other close calls, he said.
He was the youngest of four children. His three siblings – all of whom are deceased – also served in the war. A photograph of them hangs on the wall of his room at Veterans Place.
Young, the creator of O’Connell’s surprise gift, said he has been building models since he was a kid.
“It tends to be quite a hobby when you get into it,” he said.
O’Connell too has a hobby – knitting bait bags – and he offered a little demonstration of his skills for Young and a couple other visitors.
“It’s something to pass the time,” he said. “I started at 12 years old, knitting for my father.”
O’Connell, who has 11 children, worked as a fisherman after returning home after the war.