March 25, 2018. The very first article published in the County Line Courier about the Cenotaph Research Project told the stories of Vincent CARR and Everett Samuel FRANCIS. At the time the article ran, we only had a photo for Vincent Carr. When the Cenotaph Research Project blog began, we updated the story and provided a PDF of the original newspaper article in a blog entry, which you can read here (See The Cenotaph Research Project Begins).
As mentioned in the original article, Everett Samuel Francis was born February 2, 1921 in Albany, the son of Lester L. Francis and Annie Mary “Mae” MacDonald, and husband of Janie Louise Mercer of Grand Falls, Newfoundland. Before the war, he worked for Wilfred Inman of Albany as a farm labourer. He enlisted on July 15, 1940, serving with the P.E.I. Highlanders.
On September 13, 1942, he was sent from Gander, Newfoundland, where his unit was based, to Long Branch, Ontario for a small arms training course. He was on his way back to Gander aboard the railway ferry S.S. Caribou when it was torpedoed by German U-Boat 69 off the coast of Newfoundland on Wednesday, October 14, 1942. 101 survivors were rescued and taken to Sydney, but the captain, 30 crew, 57 service personnel, and 48 passengers were lost, including Francis. He’s buried in St. Matthew’s Presbyterian Cemetery in Grand Falls, Newfoundland.
One of the most rewarding aspects of this project is meeting the families behind the soldiers listed on the Cenotaph. At the time the article was published in October 2016, we had no photo, nor could we find family on Prince Edward Island. So we were delighted when helpful Islanders found a connection that led us to Francis’ daughter Greta May Follett, who lives in Ontario with her husband Terry.
Greta told us that she was born on September 24, 1942, and her father had been granted leave to meet his baby daughter when he lost his life. Although she never had a chance to meet her father, she did have a few photos and so we were able to put a face and story to this name on the Cenotaph.
An October 20, 1942 letter written to Francis’ mother by the Herbert J. Scott, Minister of St. Matthew’s Presbyterian Church in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, explained that Greta was to be christened in church on the Sunday after Francis was to have returned home. Reverend Scott explained that “During the short time that your boy was in this country, he had greatly endeared himself to all who knew him, and his loss is keenly felt here. As a soldier, his fidelity to duty and earnest desire to rise in the ranks enlisted the commendation of his Officers. Col. C.C. Thompson of his regiment thought much of him and said, if Everett had been spared, he might have gone far in the ranks.” (Note: Newfoundland was not part of Canada in 1942.)
Greta’s mother never remarried. Greta herself was raised by her maternal grandmother Greta Mercer. When we had a chance to visit them at their home in Ontario, we were warmly welcomed and experienced the hospitality Newfoundland is famous for!
Do you have any photos or memories of Everett Samuel Francis to share? Perhaps a school photo? Photos are still also needed for many of the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion. Please share your photos, comments, or stories by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by commenting on this blog.
© Daria Valkenburg
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