Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram

Wait for me daddy – the story behind the iconic photo taken in the 1940s

“Wait for Me, Daddy” is an iconic photo taken by Claude P. Dettloff on October 1, 1940, of The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles) marching down Eighth Street at the Columbia Street intersection, New Westminster, Canada.

While Dettloff was taking the photo, Warren “Whitey” Bernard ran away from his mother to his father, Private Jack Bernard. The picture received extensive exposure and was used in war-bond drives and here is the story behind it.

On Saturday August 26, 1939, Hitler was threatening Poland and demanding Danzig. At 4:15 that morning the Regimental Adjutant in British Columbia, Canada received a call from the Canadian capital instructing him to call out the BC Regiment. Soldiers fanned out in the city to guard vulnerable points.

On September 10, 1939, the Parliament of Canada declared war against the German Reich, which had invaded Poland on the first of the month. While other units were sent to the United Kingdom, the British Columbia Regiment was left behind on the west coast.

After months of drills and guard duty the regiment was ordered out and on October 1, 1940, marched to New Westminster to catch a waiting ship, the SS Princess Joan, to their secret destination. 

Wait for Me, Daddy, taken by Claude P. Dettloff.Source
Wait for Me, Daddy, taken by Claude P. Dettloff. Source

Coming down Eighth Street in New Westminster, Canadian photographer Claude P. Dettloff of The Province newspaper positioned himself to photograph the whole column marching down the hill. As he was getting ready to take the picture, he saw a young boy run out onto the road.

Wait for Me, Daddy captures the image of the boy, five-year-old Warren “Whitey” Bernard, running out of his mother’s grasp to his father. The picture Dettloff captured was picked up all over the world, getting exposure in Life; it hung in every school in British Columbia during the war.

The secret destination turned out to be Nanaimo, only three hours away. Later, after years of training, the regiment converted from infantry to armor and was sent to France and the Netherlands; it returned home at war’s end. When Jack Bernard returned home Dettloff was on hand to photograph the family’s reunion. Jack and Bernice Bernard eventually divorced.

The City of New Westminster commissioned a bronze statue honoring the photo to be placed at the bottom of 8th Street, in Hyack Square. The city unveiled the statue on October 4, 2014. At the same event, the Royal Canadian Mint announced the issue of a series of three coins featuring a scene adapted from the image: it was released in denominations of $2 (alloy), $3 (1/4 ounce silver) and 10 (1/2 ounce silver). Canada Post also issued a stamp featuring the iconic image. 

Neil Patrick

Neil Patrick is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News