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 https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2017/09/23/paying-our-respects-to-private-joseph-arthur-desroches/)
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 http://www.radio-canada.ca/util/postier/suggerer-go.asp?nID=4582099
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on the blog.
© Daria Valkenburg