September 27, 2019. A few months ago, a request was made by Dutch researchers trying to gather photos for the thousands of WW2 Canadian soldiers buried in Dutch cemeteries, as part of their Faces To Graves Project. (See Photos and Info Requested For WW2 Soldiers From PEI Buried In The Netherlands) While not part of the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph Research Project, Pieter has been trying to help these researchers.
Faces To Graves Chair Alice van Bekkum, who was recently honoured with the Governor General’s Sovereign Medal for Volunteers, explained that “the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has given permission to place photos by the graves, for a two week period in May 2020, at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, in commemoration of the 75th Liberation of Holland.”
One of the names of soldiers from PEI for which a photo was requested was William L. WEATHERBIE, born in Charlottetown, was with the Royal Regiment of Canada. He died on March 8, 1945, aged 18, and is buried at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek. We had placed flags at his grave in 2017. (See On the War Memorial Trail ….. PEI Soldiers Buried In The Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek)
The route to a photo of Weatherbie was a circuitous one, illustrating how many Islanders are helping Pieter in this quest. It began with Jack MacEachern at the Royal Canadian Legion in Charlottetown, who knew some of the Weatherbie family members. This led to a phone call with Gloria Weatherbie, who explained that her maiden name was Cameron and that she had grown up in Augustine Cove, not far from where we live. She confirmed that Weatherbie was the older brother of her husband Winston. “He was always known as ‘Buddy”, she said. “My husband and his younger brother Roger never knew him, as they were born after Buddy died.”
When Pieter met with Winston and Roger, they explained that “Buddy had been injured and was scheduled to be repatriated back home after being discharged from hospital in England. He refused to leave his unit, so he went back, and two weeks later was killed in Germany.”
Not long after our visit, Gloria called us back. “We found a letter from a nurse that looked after Buddy in England” she said.
The letter, dated August 30, 1945, from Marie Cave of Colchester, was written to Buddy’s parents, after she learned of his death. “I have had the pleasure of meeting your son whilst he was here in England in our Military Hospital. He was a son any mother could feel proud to own. I think he was a very nice boy and was sorry to hear he has since lost his life….. I send you my deepest sympathy in your loss.”
Miss Cave goes on to explain that she met Buddy through his friend “George Shelfoon, who wrote and told me about his death.” Shelfoon survived the war and returned back to Prince Edward Island, always carrying a photo of Weatherbie in his wallet, until he himself passed away.
Thank you to the Weatherbie family and to Jack MacEachern for helping to put a face to the name of this young soldier. If anyone can provide more information on William Weatherbie, or any of the other Canadian soldiers from WW2 who are buried in The Netherlands, please contact Pieter at email@example.com or comment on the blog.
© Daria Valkenburg