A Face For WW2 Soldier William Weatherbie

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.

20190831_110157 Alice van Bekkum

In August, The Governor General of Canada presented the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers to three Dutch recipients who have worked to preserve the memory of Canadian soldiers who served in World War II, and a Meritorious Service Medal to a Dutch captain for his service alongside the Canadian Armed Forces. Left to right in back: Albert Hartkamp, Captain Paul D. Schouten (Dutch military), Marc Fraser. Left to right in front: Canadian ambassador to The Netherlands, Her Excellency Sabine Nölke, Alice van Bekkum, Her Excellency The Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada. (Photo: courtesy of Alice van Bekkum)

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)

CIMG9032 Sep 16 2017 Groesbeek Cemetery grave of WL Weatherbie

Grave of William Weatherbie at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

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.

William Weatherbie from Winston Weatherbie

William ‘Buddy’ Weatherbie. (Photo: Winston Weatherbie family collection. Photo colourization: Pieter Valkenburg)

CIMG3079 Aug 26 2019 Gloria Weatherbie with Pieter

Gloria Weatherbie and Pieter hold up the photo of William Weatherbie. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

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.

CIMG3082 Aug 26 2019 Roger Weatherbie Pieter & Winston

Pieter (centre) with Roger (left) and Winston (right) Weatherbie. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

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 dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg



3 thoughts on “A Face For WW2 Soldier William Weatherbie

  1. My name is Steve Weatherbie. My Grandfather was Gordon Douglas Weatherbie, who also fought in WW2, Survived and later fought in Korea as well. We are from Windsor Ontario. His father was William H G Weatherbie. a WW1 veteran. They were originally from Pownal PEI. I think my grandfather Gordon may have been William’s cousin. and William may have possibly been the Son of Everett Weatherbie ?? Everett was my great-grand father’s brother. I’m not sure of the connection but I definitely know that this is a relative of mine. I’m glad to see him honored, and his story sound very “Weatherbie”. The sense of duty to a stubborn degree seems to be a trait that has been passed down.


    • Dear Steve,
      Thank you for your comment on the blog. The William Weatherbie written about was the son of John Charles Weatherbie, not Everett, and his grandfather was a Peter Weatherbie. I spoke with William’s family this morning and they will look to see if they can find a family connection somewhere down the line. They were very appreciative of your comment about the ‘Weatherbie sense of duty to a stubborn degree’!


  2. Pingback: Commemorating Liberation Day At The Canadian War Cemetery In Groesbeek | On The War Memorial Trail Research Project…….. with Pieter and Daria Valkenburg

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