These brothers retraced the steps of their great-uncle, a Jewish Canadian soldier who ‘died a hero’

Left: Harry Bochner died in battle, weeks before the end of the Second World War. Right: Jonathan and Elliott Shiff, Bockner's great-nephews, retraced his footsteps on a trip to the Netherlands. (Supplied photos)

On Sept. 13, 2022, at the Holten Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands, an early Remembrance Day memorial service was held to honour the more than 1,000 Canadian soldiers buried there. They fell in battle in the spring of 1945, shortly before the Second World War ended, liberating the area from Nazi occupation.

Elliott and Jonathan Shiff were the only Jews on the trip. They were commemorating their great-uncle, Sgt. Harry Bochner, a former fur salesman from Toronto who was killed when his light anti-aircraft gun crew came under attack during a manoeuvre codenamed Operation Cannonshot.

More than 500 Canadians became casualties during that operation, including Bochner, a stocky redheaded sergeant who had already survived nearly 18 months on the front lines of Italy. The Shiff brothers join The CJN Daily today to discuss their great-uncle’s life and legacy, how they felt accepting an invitation to join a group of veterans’ children visiting the battlefields of Holland, and why they brought some earth all the way from Jerusalem and Toronto to place on his grave.

What we talked about:


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.