July 12, 2018. When doing research on something that happened a long time ago, one expects setbacks and successes. Sometimes the setbacks are greater than the successes, and sometimes the other way around.
On July 30, this blog will be a year old, and the Cenotaph Research Project two years old. A lot has happened since it began. Many families have participated in this project, as have universities where some of the soldiers studied. We thank them for their help in remembering their heroes.
We’re still missing a number of photos, as per the list provided in the previous blog entry. (See Upcoming Presentation in Crapaud). In some cases, we have not been able to find family members of the soldiers on the Cenotaph. Occasionally we found family, only to be told they never heard of the person. One woman was quite interested to hear about her WW1 soldier relative, but after talking to her mother to see if any photo survived, reported back that the response was “it happened too long ago.” That was the end of that story!
Most of the time, however, the family was aware of the person, but no photo survived, let alone other documents such as letters or postcards. This happened to the family of another WW1 soldier, who searched diligently for information and a photo, with no success. We’ve now placed an ad in ‘Legion‘ magazine, in the hope that someone outside the island will be able to help.
In another instance, we were able to get a photo of one WW1 soldier who died in Belgium, but a photo of his brother, who fought in France, has yet to be found.
So those are some of the setbacks regarding photos and personal stories. Another recent setback was that we have learned from the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation in The Netherlands that the memorial plaque in Wons, The Netherlands to honour WWII pilot Elmer Muttart and the crew of Halifax L9561, which was planned to be unveiled in October 2018 has been postponed to 2019. While the postponement of this important ceremony is a disappointment, it’s an opportunity to continue raising funds for this project.
Ok, now for some positive news. Angela Walker of CBC Mainstreet interviewed Pieter earlier this week. If you missed the radio interview, here is the link: https://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/mainstreet-pei/segment/15556040 and the brief write-up on the CBC website: ‘Finding the heroic stories behind the names on a local cenotaph. Pieter Valkenburg is a Dutch Canadian who wanted to learn more about the names on the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph. So he started a research project to find the stories behind these fallen soldiers.’
Shane Ross posted a story on the CBC website based on what was discussed in the interview, and you can read that article here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-pieter-valkenburg-soldiers-holland-netherlands-1.4740888
We are grateful to CBC PEI for taking an interest in the Cenotaph Research Project, and also to the County Line Courier newspaper, which has been publishing our stories since the project began.
A reminder that if you have a relative who was a WWII soldier and is buried in The Netherlands, please consider participating in a project to collect photos and stories for each soldier. You can email your photos and info to Pieter at email@example.com and he will forward the information on your behalf to the project team in The Netherlands.
© Daria Valkenburg