Claude Melvin Corbett

In Memorial

March 08, 1919 – March 27, 2011

Our Dad was born March 8th, 1919 in Wellwood, Manitoba.  His parents, David & Isabella (Ferguson) emigrated from County Ayre, Scotland in 1910.  He was the last survivor of the six children David and Isabella (Bela) had; Jack, Bill, Winifred, David and Harold.  David and Bela moved the family to Vancouver after WWII and finished out their lives there. Dad joined the Canadian Army in 1939 as a private in the Winnipeg Grenadiers and ended up being posted to Hong Kong with “C” Company in late 1941. When Hong Kong was attacked by the Japanese December 8th Dad fought valiantly alongside his friends and comrades until being forced to surrender December 26.  After 3 ½ years as a POW, surviving barbaric treatment and conditions Dad, along with the other surviving  prisoners, was liberated in August 1945.  Despite the physical and emotional injuries he suffered during that time Dad never gave up or in.  These strong traits carried on throughout his later work for the Department of Veterans Affairs and his home life.  After returning from Hong Kong Dad was a patient in Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver recovering from his POW treatment.  It was there that he met and fell in love with his Army nurse, his soon-to-be wife, June Sargent from Toronto. Despite having lost most of his eyesight as a result of his POW treatment he was able to provide a safe and stable home for his family in the Vancouver area.  He always had a smile or joke for whoever was within range.  Dad developed a close group of caring friends including his long time fishing buddy, Walt Goresky and old neighbourhood pal, Don Wood.  Over the years Dad loved fishing, curling, bowling, and cribbage and just enjoyed having a good old “bull session” with his many friends at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 88 in Maple Ridge. Dad is now at rest – he died at 9:17 PM Sunday March 27, 2011 at his care home in Maple Ridge, BC. Claude and June had three children: Russell (Gerry) of Lethbridge, Alberta; Denis (Yolanda) of Victoria, BC and Donna (Brent) of Maple Ridge, BC.  His kids gave him six grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren who all so loved Grandpa Corbett.  We miss him already.  He was a good man who did his best. Service: 11AM on Tuesday the 5th of April. Location: Garden Hill Funeral Chapel 11765-224th Street, Maple Ridge BC V2X 6A5. Parking is in the rear of the building.  Tea reception will be at the funeral home. Instead of flowers, donations to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind would be appreciated.

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Condolence Messages

  1. On behalf of the BC Region of the HKVCA, I would like to express sincere condolences to the Family of Mr. Claude Corbett. Our thoughts and prayers are with you in this time of sorrow and reflection. Claude and his comrades in ‘C’ Force are true Canadian heroes. The sacrifices they made for their country and freedom will never be forgotten.

    We Will Remember Them.

    Murray Doull
    HKVCA Secretary-Treasurer, BC Region

  2. To the Corbett family – Please accept the deep sympathy in your loss from Manitoba Region of the HKVCA.

    We will remember them.

  3. I believe I met your dad during the unvailing of the “Wall” in Ottawa 2009. My sincerest condolences to you and family. My dad was a Hong Kong Veteran from the Royal Rifles of Canada where he said the Winnipeg Grenniders were brothers alike, they were all in the same war together. Here is a poem my mother wrote on behalf of my dad (and probably your dad) as a Prisoner of War.

    In 1941, some of our young Canadian men were sent to the Island of Hong Kong to defend the British Flag and Freedom for our country . They fought an incredible battle from December 6th – 25th, against an outnumbered Japanese Army. Those who did not die in battle were taken as Prisoners of War.

    Many died as Prisoners of War and those who lived endured torture, starvation and abuse for more than 3 and ½ years as POW’s.

    This poem is dedicated to all “Hong Kong Veterans”:

    Prayer from a Prisoner of War

    In a cold drafty hovel
    A young prisoner of war lies
    And whispers a prayer
    With tears in his eyes.


    Dear Lord,

    I do not want to take much of your time
    For some have troubles worse than mine.
    But I’d like to share some thoughts with you
    And perhaps to beg a favor or two.

    For many days I’ve had spoiled rice to eat
    And ragged shoes to wear on my feet.
    No stockings for this soldier boy
    And no soft bed on which to sleep.

    My hair is dirty, my stomach burns
    My grimy shirt hasn’t many more turns.
    I cannot complain to my friends you see,
    For some of them are much sicker than me.

    Many lie on old wooden beds
    With a moth eaten blanket
    And no pillow for their heads
    While others lie quiet, for they cannot feel
    The festering wounds that will not heal.

    Some are so weak that they cannot stand
    But are forced to work at the enemies command
    Often at the end of a very long day,
    We mourn for comrades who have passed away.

    Dear Lord, I must thank you that I still survive
    Please help to keep us all alive.
    And help us live through this cold damp hell
    So we may think of it as just a bad spell.

    Amen my Lord, for now I must say
    Please keep me and my friends safe today.
    For our lives are in the palm of your hand
    As we wait in hope to get home again.

    Written by Clara Flanagan, widow of
    Hong Kong Veteran James Andrew Flanagan(E3035) 1914 – 1993

  4. Thank you all for your support and kind words.

  5. On sunday, march 27 2011, we lost a dear man our father. Already it has left a huge hole in our lives. i miss going to visit with him with his favorite tim hortons coffee and having our private time conversations, usually not about much, but it was my time with him. My husband feels like he has lost a very special second father, he was so honored to have known him and been a part of his life. He is deeply missed by his 2 grand daughters christina and cheryl, they will have many great memories of trips to disneyland with grandpa, having him around for christmas dinners and anyother family occasion that happen to come around.
    my dad was a hard working man, and was very fortunate that when he retired he was able to travel the world. I think one of his best trips was when he went on his hong kong reunions and got back togethers with the “guys”.
    we will miss his sense of humor and his strenght that he showed during his many illnesses. he never complained. He just felt that every day was a good day because he was alive!! He has left us with a wonderful legacy and he is finally now at peace. We miss you dad dearly!

  6. Jacqueline Brown

    Grandpa Corbett was so blessed in many ways, to have had such a long, active and meaningful life after living through Hell on earth, and we were so blessed that he survived that Hell. We will miss you Grandpa. We will remember you, your stories, your smile and the love you showed to us all. We miss you…

    Love, Torsten, Jacque, Kaylin and Madison

  7. Matt, Chris and Kenzie

    Glad we were able to spend some quality time with Grandpa this summer. Special thanks to Brent and Donna and Denis and Yolanda for their tireless efforts to make Grandpa Claude comfortable all these years and the constant updates throughout his life and passing. Our hearts go out to all of you and we will carry our memories of him with us forever.

  8. Claude was a true gentleman that you do not see much of anymore. We knew him through bowling and the legion afterwards. We never tired of his stories of the war years. Our thoughts go out to the family at this time. He truly was one of the “Last Generation”, as Tom Brokaw would say.

  9. Kathy and Dan O'Connor

    On behalf of our family here in Vanderhoof,and the rest of Extended Family of Alice Hyde, we send our condolences to all the Family of Claude Corbett.We also had the Joy of knowing this wonderful man! He was my Grandmother’s companion for close to 25 years! Our Family Loved him so much!He loved his jokes and his fishing, he loved coming up North to Francious Lake with my Grandmother for months at a time.My Aunt Linda lived there with her late husband David.Also my Mother Liz was living there also. He enjoyed coming to our family functions, and of course he was a big ham! Telling jokes, teasing all the little kids, and bugging the teenagers as best as he could too! When it came to telling stories, he had to be one of the best ever! This Gentelman was one of the most kindest and loveable person we’ve met in along time! We will miss him!

  10. Dad as a son, brother, soldier, father & a friend. Like so many of his age, he enlisted when his country called & endured almost 4 years of mistreatment and torture. Above all else he was a friend. Always had a wicked sense of humour. You will be missed. You will not be forgotten.

  11. From the Province Obituary Guest Book:

    April 2, 2011
    My thoughts are with the family. Mr. Corbett was a wonderful neighbour when I was growing up. He will be missed.
    ~ Debbie Campbell (Wood), Sherwood Park, Alberta

  12. Lynda Sturgeon

    To all of Claude’s family I wish to offer my sincerest condolences. Claude was a special person and I spent many weeks with him and my mother at Francois Lake. He was a wonderful and loving man and will be missed by all. His stories and sense of humour gave me much enjoyment.

  13. Lynda Sturgeon

    To all of Claude’s family I wish to offer my sincerest condolences. Claude was a special person and I spent many weeks with him and my mother at Francois Lake. He was a wonderful and loving man and will be missed by all. His stories and sense of humour gave me much enjoyment. I will miss him and never forget this good man.

  14. Carolyn Porcina

    Donna, Denis, Russell. My deepest sympathy on the loss of your father Claude. I am your cousin and stayed with your parents while visiting from Edmonton as a child. Your parents were very kind to me and I enjoyed my time spent with them. Russell and Denis were just little and I was about eleven that summer. I now live in North Vancouver and would love to hear from you anytime. Again I’m so sorry for your loss.
    Carolyn Porcins (nee Corbett)North Vancouver B.C.

  15. I would like to take this time to extend our sincere thankyou for all the kind words, love and support shown to us during this very difficult time. I would like to thank Don & Joan Wood and Walt & Carolyn Goreski for the many years of devoted friendship. Dad treasured their friendship immensely. Dads passing has left a big hole in my heart but i will forever be grateful for all my time with him and i will treasure the memories. Dad i love you!May you now be at peace as you truly deserve it.

  16. It is hard to believe that such a good man is gone. A large hole has now been created in my heart that can never be filled since the day you left us Grandpa. I am for ever going to miss the stories that you would tell over special ‘coffee’ time. I am glad to know that you are now resting at peace and are no longer suffering. I will greatly treasure the memories that we had together.

    I will forever miss you Grandpa but will always love you!

  17. Dorothy Goresky

    I have many happy, wonderful memories of Claude. The initial ones were on Armstrong Avenue but later at Read Island. There Claude often played cards with Brenda and David. Because of his peripheral vision he was able to confuse them as to why he was so often able to win at the games.
    Claude was fun to be with and always brought happy moments into our lives. Although I rarely saw him in later years I will always have those happy memories. You in the family will miss him but also be supported by your own memories. My condolences and best wishes. Dorothy Goresky

  18. gail orton(corbett)

    My name is Gail Orton– I am your cousin. I was just on the internet looking for relatives and came upon this announcement. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Your dad was was so kind to me and my brother David when our father was killed. My dad was Andy Corbett and my mom was Rose. We used too live on McNicol with grandma & grandpa during the war. We lived in the basement and uncle claude and Aunt June lived top floor with grandpa & grandma lived in the middle. After the war we moved to Kamloops because my dad got a job on the CN railway where he was killed on the job. My mom kept in touch with your dad for awhile but lost contact somewhere along the way. I spent a lot of time with BeBe and Bernard and aunt Winnie when I would come to Vancouver to Grandma &Grandpa
    when they lived in Kits. My mom passed away 15 years ago and with her went all the information of our extended family. It would be great to hear from you catch up on lost years. Again my deepest sympathy on your loss — he was always a really special hero in my little life.
    I hope this doesn’t sound too weird but it would be awesome to know some of my family.

    Gail Orton (nee Corbett)

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