My Father Thomas Joseph Carbone, POW 311

My Father Thomas Joseph Carbone, POW 311 by Martin Carbone

Upon his release on November 20, 1940, Thomas Joseph Carbone, P.Eng., returned home and was immediately reinstated to his position as Engineer at Buffalo Ankerite Gold Mines, Ltd., where he remained until August 1948, when he joined Mascioli Construction Company in Timmins as Chief Engineer (owners Leo and Tony Mascioli had also been interned at Petawawa, and they might first have met there).

In 1953, Tom moved his family to Sudbury, where his wife Leah had been born and her parents (Leonardo and Giulia Fabbro) were prominent in the community; there he served as Township Engineer for the Township of McKim. In 1954, he was recruited by Johnson Bros. Co. Ltd. of Brantford, Ontario to become their Chief Engineer and Estimator, and he remained with that firm for 18 years until his retirement in December 1972. During those years, he was promoted to Works Manager, then General Manager and, finally, Vice President and a Director of the Company.

When Tom was detained by the RCMP, his wife, in-laws, parents, siblings and extended families (his in Toronto, hers in Sudbury) were shocked and traumatized, as was he. How could this have happened to someone born, raised and schooled in Canada, someone who had earned a university degree despite the recession? And this trauma lasted for all of them and changed family life and dynamics for many years after. But immediately in June 1940, knowing that the detainment was unjust and mistaken, many people (his employer, family members, work associates, and friends) worked for Mr. Carbone's release, even though his whereabouts (Petawawa, where he was assigned to work in the canteen) were unknown for several months. The Buffalo Ankerite Manager, Mr. R. P. Kinkel, gave sworn and favorable testimony as to his character and his co-workers stayed in touch. His wife's young sister Naomi had to leave Sudbury and move to Timmins to help out and provide moral support and consolation. While in Timmins, Naomi continued her Grade 12 studies at Timmins High and Vocational School, before returning to Sudbury to finish Grade 13.

Finally, judicial reviews (by Justice J. D. Hyndman) emphatically revealed a miscarriage of justice. His wife, who had prayed at church every day of his incarceration, received a phone call, a simple "I'm coming home." A kindly guard gave him $2.00 for the trip. Once settled, he sent that guard a Thank-You note and a carton of cigarettes (the cigarettes were returned, probably because of government policy). But legal issues related to the internment did not end immediately: Two years later, in November 1943, Tom finally prevailed and was not required to pay fees of $55.16 levied by the custodians assigned by government officials to manage some of his property.

The sudden arrest and internment, and the suffering and enduring memories of this most painful period of their life meant that they never shared with anyone, except in bits later life, so their children knew, and still know, precious little of that time and enduring suffering. Tom and Leah moved on, and never held a grudge ("the government did what it felt it had to do in wartime," he later said). Only in Spring 1957, when his company had a contract to install sewer and water mains at Petawawa, did he break his silence, having to reveal the internment to his eldest son on a trip to Petawawa, since the camp commander they were about to meet with had been a guard there in 1940! But he emphasized that they had put 1940 behind them.

Throughout his life, and despite the trauma and horrors of this period (which he forgave, but would never forget), Tom remained a productive, respected and trusted member of the community and of Canadian society. Among his many contributions, Tom served for many years on the Catholic High School Board of Governors, was a life-time member of the Knights of Columbus, a member of the Society of Professional Engineers of Ontario, and over the years, generously donated engineering and professional services and wisdom to several organizations with which he was affiliated. He was the loving father of six children, a devoted husband, and a good human being. Following a series of strokes, he passed away in March 1983 at 74 years of age. His wife, Leah Naomi Fabbro Carbone (a member of the Brantford Registered Music Teachers Association), passed away at 69 the following year. Theirs was indeed a life well-lived; May they Rest in Peace.


The Memories of Brantford Project thanks the sponsors for their generous support.