The Veterans Tree At Borden-Carleton Legion

CIMG4942 Nov 24 2020 Legion Veterans tree

The Veterans Tree at Borden-Carleton Legion (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

November 25, 2020.  When the phone rang the other day, it was to let us know about a wonderful way to remember veterans past and present at the Borden-Carleton Legion.

‘Our veterans at the Branch deserve to be remembered at Christmas’

…….Kathy Henry, Borden-Carleton Legion member

Kathy Henry, member of the Borden-Carleton Legion, wanted to do something special this year to honour the many veterans who have been identified with the Branch over the past years.  “I’ve been thinking about it for 10 years, but when we had a tree donated to the Branch, it was time to do it...” she explained.

The tree, donated by Ashley Steele, whose uncle Danny Bernard is a Branch member, led Kathy and Dawn Gradwell to find ornament tags and painstakingly handwrite the name of a veteran on each card.  “We’ve done 187 ornament tags so far…” Kathy noted.

CIMG4931 Nov 24 2020 Legion Veterans tree

Some of the ornament tags on the Veterans Tree, each with the handwritten name of a veteran.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Veterans residing in the area were invited to place their own ornament tags on the tree, and one of these was Pieter.

CIMG4934 Nov 24 2020 Legion Veterans tree

Kathy Henry, left, with Pieter Valkenburg, right. Pieter wears a clear-window mask since I have difficulty following conversations when masks cover faces and mouths. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG4937 Nov 24 2020 Legion Veterans tree

Pieter places the ornament tag on the tree. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG4944 Nov 24 2020 Legion Veterans tree Pieters tag

Pieter’s ornament tag is next to that of WW1 soldier James Ambrose Cairns.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Kathy is the wife of veteran Mario Henry, who served over 20 years in the Canadian military.  “…I’m supporting the Branch, the members, and the veterans with this initiative.  The veterans deserve a tree!…” she explained.

The Borden-Carleton Legion has ensured that those who served have not been forgotten during this holiday season.  Well done, Kathy and Dawn!

If you have photos or information to share, please email Pieter at or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

The Continuing Search For A Photo of WW1 Soldier Joseph Arthur Desroches

CIMG4888 Nov 10 2020 Pieter being interviewed by Radio Canada Acadie

Pieter during a phone interview with CBC Radio-Canada Acadie. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

November 15, 2020. In the fall of 2017, when we visited the graves of WW1 soldiers buried in France, who are listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, it was always more meaningful for Pieter if he had a photo of the soldier and knew what he looked like.

After returning home, Pieter became more determined than ever to find a photo and family for every WW1 and WW2 soldier he researches.  “… I do not believe that there are Canadian soldiers buried overseas who are forgotten.  Family is out there somewhere...” he maintains.

One of the WW1 soldiers he’s had no luck with finding a photo or family was Joseph Arthur DESROCHES, whose story was told over 3 years ago, when we visited the cemetery he is buried in.  (See

Born August 8, 1891 in Miscouche, Prince Edward Island, he was the son of Zephirim Desroches and Priscilla Gaudet.  Unlike many WW1 soldiers, Desroches was married, to Mary Ann Wedge of Fernwood, and had four children: Elizabeth Eileen, Joseph Alfred, Lucy Priscilla, and Charles Arthur. With a wife and four children, it doesn’t seem possible that Desroches would not have sent a photo of himself home.

Many archives and researchers were contacted over the years, particularly those researching Acadian history.  An article was published last year in the County Line Courier. (See CLC Jul 10 2019 p11 WW1 Soldier Incorrectly Recorded on Gravestone)  Still no luck.

Since Desroches was of Acadian descent, maybe we needed to ask the French language media for help?

CBC’s Radio-Canada Acadie in Moncton was approached, and reporter Anne-Marie Parenteau interviewed Pieter for a Remembrance Day broadcast.  The reporter and the radio station showed a deep commitment to this story as Pieter was interviewed in English, and then his interview was translated into French.  Both Anne-Marie and the translator did an incredible job, resulting in an excellent interview.

If you understand French, you’ll want to listen to it:  “La quête d’un homme de l’Î.-P.-É. pour retrouver des photos d’un soldat acadien” … See

Unfortunately, up to today, no one has come forward in response to the appeal for a photo or family of Joseph Arthur Desroches.

UPDATE: In last month’s posting about photos of soldiers that Pieter is searching for, he has been successful with two soldiers:  Vernon James NIXON and Philip Hubert LONG.

You can read the original posting and the follow-up on Philip Hubert Long at:

Thank you to the County Line Courier for featuring the ‘On The War Memorial Trail’ stories, and an enormous Merci Beaucoup to Anne-Marie Parenteau and CBC’s Radio-Canada Acadie.  If you have photos or information to share, please email Pieter at or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

Remembrance Day Service At Borden-Carleton Legion

CIMG4893 Nov 11 2020 Cenotaph outside Borden Carleton Legion

Cenotaph outside Borden-Carleton Legion with the official wreaths.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

November 12, 2020. On November 11, a curtailed, but moving, Remembrance Day service was held outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, in front of the Cenotaph.  The weather was beautiful, unlike in past years!

CIMG4897 Nov 11 2020 Colour parade bearers Arthur & George

Colour parade bearers Arthur Ranahan (left) and George Palmer (right).  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG4899 Nov 11 2020 Lining up for the parade outside Borden-Carletown Legion

Legion members line up as the names of those being remembered were read out.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Wreaths had been placed ahead of time, respecting Covid-19 safety measures.  Legion veterans gave the salute for the official wreaths, with Hon. Jamie Fox, MLA for District 19 Borden-Carleton giving the act of respect for the wreath laid on behalf of the Province of Prince Edward Island.

CIMG4900 Nov 11 2020 Pieter takes salute for Govt of Canada wreath

Pieter Valkenburg took the salute for the Government of Canada wreath on behalf of the Hon. Wayne Easter, MP Malpeque.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

After the official wreaths were noted, names were read out ‘in memory of’ for the other wreaths and crosses, and as each name was read out, a Legion member raised the wreath or cross up from its position of lying on the ground.

CIMG4891 Nov 11 2020 Pieter takes salute for Govt of Canada wreath

Pieter Valkenburg wore a clear-window mask as a gesture of inclusiveness and respect for those who need to see a person’s face in order to communicate.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

The service was well-organized and put together with a small number of volunteers. 

Remembrance Day may be over for this year, but the work of remembrance of those who served continues.  If you have photos or information to share, please email Pieter at or comment on the blog. 

© Daria Valkenburg


On The War Memorial Trail….. Remembering WW1 Soldier William Earle Davison


November 8, 2020.  If you have a family member who lost his life in war, this is a poignant time of year of remembrance.  Recently Earle Davison of Kensington wrote us that “….As November 11 comes around, I start to think about my uncle, William Earle Davison, who was killed in the First World War.  He was attending Mount Allison University and he enlisted in St John, New Brunswick. He was with the Sixth Canadian Siege Battery in France and Belgium…

Coloured photo Davison

William Earle ‘Davy’ Davison.  (Photo courtesy of Earle Davison & Family. Photo restoration and colourization by Pieter Valkenburg)

Earle explained that “…My father always kept a box about the size of a chocolate box in one of his desk drawers.  It contained the last possessions of Earle, most of it must have been sent back from Europe.  Every fall getting near November 11th he would take it out and we would look through it….

The original box is long gone, but it’s a tradition that Earle and his wife Irene keep up with a replacement box.

CIMG4858 Oct 28 2020 Irene & Earle Davison

Irene and Earle Davison with a chocolate box containing mementos of his uncle, WW1 soldier William Earle Davison. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

According to his attestation document, William Earle DAVISON was born March 7, 1897 in Kensington, the son of Joseph and Annie Davison. Before enlisting on May 3, 1916 as a gunner with the No. 7 Overseas Siege Battery Artillery in St. John, he was a theology student at Mount Allison.

Earle Davison explained that he had a group photo from the No. 7 Siege Battery and wondered why, as he had only known his uncle to be in the 6th Siege Battery.  This was explained by a series of changes in designation.  ‘No. 7 “Overseas” Battery Siege Artillery, CEF’ was re-designated as ‘167th (Canadian) Siege Battery’ on 10 June 1916, and as ‘No. 6 Canadian Siege Battery, CEF’ on 24 January 1917. (For more information, see

CIMG4792 Oct 28 2020 Pieter & Earl Davison with group photo No 7 Siege Battery

Earle Davison shows Pieter the group photo of the No 7 Siege Battery that was taken May 23, 1916.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

From St. John, Davison was sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  With his Battery he left for Britain on September 18, 1916, arriving in Bristol on September 26, 1916.  A day later they were in France to provide siege artillery support as part of the 2nd Brigade, CGA, CEF in France and Flanders until the end of the war.  (NOTE: CGA refers to Canadian Garrison Artillery, and CEF refers to Canadian Expeditionary Force.)

On September 18, 1918, he was wounded in an early afternoon bombardment while they were in the area of Villers-lès-Cagnicourt, 24.1 km southeast of Arras.  A letter written by Fred KILLEN of St. John to Davison’s father on September 19, 1918 from France explained what happened to his friend, known as ‘Davy’: … There were five of us went up to the forward section to run the telephone exchange. There was Davy, Fowler, Simpson, Bomb Yeomans, and myself….”  The additional men mentioned in Killen’s letter were H. E. FOWLER of St. John, H. L. SIMPSON of Springhill, and H. L. YEOMANS of St. John.

Killen then explained that “…Davy, Fowler, Simpson, and I all lived together like 4 brothers. We always had a dugout of our own and got along well.  But we all went forward to do our exchange work under Bomb Yeomans. We had been up there for about 6 days and we were going to be relieved the next morning….

While waiting to be relieved they had a bit of time to relax, as Killen wrote “.… on the afternoon of the casualties we were all playing crib at the time….” Crib refers to the game of cribbage.

Then the shelling by the Germans, referred to as Fritz by Killen, began.  “…Fritz started to put a few shells around. The first one went about 100 yards from us.  We did not mind it.  About five minutes later another one came and lit about 20 yards behind us….

At first the men thought they were under a gas attack.  “… It did not make much noise when it exploded and we all thought it was gas. So we started to look for our gas masks.  The place was small and it was pretty well crowded when we all got in there.  Fowler handed me mine and I got outside the door to look at the explosion of the last one…. when all of a sudden I heard an explosion and jumped clear of the dugout…

Killen was the only one outside at the time of the third explosion.  “… The other four were inside at the time, and Davy got a slight wound in the side of the head, Fowler got it in the back, and Yeomans got it in the leg and hand and a bruised shoulder, and Simpson got a few burns about his face. I fell as soon as I jumped and when I got up I saw Davy and Yeomans running….

Killen relates what happened next.  “…We dressed them up and sent them all to a Field Ambulance. They told us then they were all right and need not to worry.  They are all clean cuts and they should all make Blighty on them….”  Blighty referred to being sent back to England.

No 22 General Hopsital Camiers

Glass lantern slide of interior of ward at No. 22 General Hospital, Camiers. (Source: Photographer unknown, “Interior of ward at No. 22 General Hospital” OnView: Digital Collections & Exhibits,

It seems clear that no one was aware that the injury to Davison would prove fatal, as he was treated for a gunshot wound at a field hospital, No. 22 General Hospital in Camiers, France.  He was not sent to England.  “… Davy was in the best of spirits after he was hit, although it was paining him a bit.  But he stuck it well. I will only be too glad to let you know of any further particulars that we receive here.  But likely you will hear from Davy yourself. But I thought I would drop you these few lines so as you won’t worry too much about him as I know how Mothers and Fathers worry about their boys.  Hoping you have received good news by the time this letter reaches you. And hoping he will recover soon…

On September 23, 1918 Davison’s service record recorded him as being ‘dangerously ill’ and on October 5, 1918 he ‘died of wounds’.  He was buried in Étaples, France. This is located near Boulogne on the north-west coast of France.

Earle Davison noted that of the men in the 6th Siege Battery killed in action, his uncle was the only Islander. The other men who were wounded with him on September 18, 1918 survived the war.

Among the mementos in the chocolate box were photos and a pipe.  One of the photos was of a group of men, likely taken in France. The back of the photo had most of the men thoughtfully identified!

CIMG4821 group photo

Photo of men from the 6th Siege Battery, identified as 1: D. Daley (killed in action), 2: Sgt W. A. McLaggan, 3: Sgt unknown, 4: Gunner E. O. Jennings, 5: Gunner R. A. Redmond, 6: Gunner William Earle Davison. Photo courtesy of Earle Davison & Family.

Thank you to Earle and Irene Davison for sharing information about Earle’s uncle, William Earle Davison, and how they ensure his memory is never forgotten.  If you have information to share about him, or any of the other men mentioned, please contact Pieter at or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

On The War Memorial Trail….. A Face For Philip Hubert Long

November 1, 2020. Recently, Pieter was interviewed by David Pate on CBC Radio’s Maritime Noon, where he made an appeal for a photo of WW2 soldier Philip Hubert LONG, who is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.  (You can listen to the interview here:

Within two hours of the broadcast, Pieter received a call from a family member, and a few weeks later, a photo was provided, along with biographical information.  Permission was granted to post information, with the request that “…no reference be made to the current survivors. You are doing great work on this project and I wish you success with the follow-up you may be working on with any other veterans...”  In order to respect the wishes of family members for privacy, they are not identified.

Philip H Long I20201018

Philip Hubert Long.  (Photo courtesy of the Family of P H Long)

Family members submitted the following biography for the researchers at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten:

…On May 29, 1921, Philip was welcomed into his family of parents Philip and Elizabeth Long, sister Jessie May, and brother Harold Chisholm in the village of Springville in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Following the illness and death in 1925 of his mother from tuberculosis, Philip, at three years old, went to live with his aunt Mary and uncle James MacLean on a small farm in Island East River, not too far from where Philip Sr. had moved the family to the village of Thorburn, Pictou County, to work as a coal miner.  During their childhood, Harold spent most summers with Philip at the farm and, as they grew older, helped with the chores and enjoyed the adventures offered by life in the country.  Phil liked working with the animals and, following graduation from school, stayed on at the farm where he had his dog and team of horses.

Although he was exempt from military duty due to an injury to his leg when a boy, Philip enlisted with the Cape Breton Highlanders in October 1943 at the age of twenty-two.  He was called up for duty and sailed for England in mid-December 1944.  His plan was to return to Canada when the war was over and buy a small farm of his own. 

In his first letter to Jessie after arriving in London dated January 5, 1945, Phil wrote that he had located brother Harold in London and they had just returned from an evening out to dinner and a show.  Harold had gone overseas earlier and had joined the British army as a Canloan officer.  He had been injured in action in Holland and was just completing his convalescence period in England when Phil arrived in London.  While Phil and Harold were both in the London area, they were able to get together on several occasions for some relaxation before they were both sent to Holland.

Phil wrote his last letter to Jessie on April 18, 1945, from Belgium as his unit was en route to Holland.  Shortly after, Jessie and their father were notified that Philip had been killed in action in Northern Holland on April 30, 1945.

 A tribute to Philip in the local newspaper in Pictou County read:

Philip is gone.  The lovable kindly lad who never had a viscous thought, is sleeping in Holland.  He gave his life—just as he lived—doing a little more than he was asked to do, being exempt from military duty.  But that is one thing we shall never forget about him.  No matter what he was asked to do, he always did a little more.  We have memories of his childhood:  his blond curly hair, his contagious laugh, his affectionate disposition.  He was a good student and a wide reader.

Phil was never intended to be a fighter; he loved people too much.  War to him was a job to be done, so that he and millions of other Canadian boys could lead normal lives when it was finished.  But the great tragedy of the many lads who died for us is that they never had a chance at life.  So little time to have achieved their hope of homes of their own and a future bursting with opportunities….

Edwin van der Wolf of the Canadian War Cemetery in The Netherlands explained that Philip Long was “…killed in action in Northern Holland on Monday April 30, 1945, age 23, during the battle of the Delfzijl Pocket. And he was temporarily buried then in Wirdum, Groningen and he was reburied thereafter on February 16 1946 in Holten…

long, philip hubert

Grave of Philip Hubert Long.  (Photo courtesy of the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten)

20 members of the Cape Breton Highlanders lost their lives in the Battle of the Delfzijl Pocket. Two of these were from Prince Edward Island: Carmen GILLCASH and John Archibald MACLAREN.

For more information on the ongoing request for photos, please see: On The War Memorial Trail….. Continuing The Search For Soldiers Killed In Action In WW1 and WW2

Thank you to the family of Philip Hubert Long and to Edwin van der Wolf from the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten for sharing information and photos.  If you have photos or information to share, please email Pieter at or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg