December 17, 2020. When you look at a gravestone in a cemetery, particularly one filled with graves from soldiers who were killed, you can easily see them as a collection of graves, not individuals who had hopes and dreams of their own.
In 2017, when we visited cemeteries in France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany to honour soldiers from WW1 and WW2 who are listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, Pieter tried to have a photo of each person whose grave or memorial we were visiting.
It wasn’t always possible, and one of those without a photo was WW1 soldier James CAIRNS, who was born on February 22, 1897 in Kinkora, the son of Thomas Cairns and Mary Jane MacDonald.
Before WW1 began, several members of the family moved to Manitoba from the Island, and so it was no surprise to learn that Cairns enlisted with the 190th Battalion Manitoba Regiment on July 8, 1916. This Regiment became part of the Winnipeg Rifles. (See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/190th_Battalion_(Winnipeg_Rifles),_CEF#:~:text=The%20190th%20(Winnipeg%20Rifles)%20Battalion,that%20city%20and%20surrounding%20district)
James was killed in action during the Battle of Amiens on August 9, 1918 and is buried in the Manitoba Cemetery in Caix, France.
Appeals for a photo on the blog and in newspaper articles went nowhere, and neither did a letter to the editor in a Manitoba newspaper in the area where members of the Cairns family had lived.
Four years of an unsuccessful search later, Pieter has taken his appeal for a photo to YouTube, in the hope that a viewer might come forward:
You can read more about James Cairns, our visit to the Manitoba Cemetery, and the appeal for a photo, here:
Thank you to post-production editor Wendy Nattress, who made this YouTube video a reality. If you have photos or information to share about James Cairns, please email Pieter at email@example.com or comment on the blog.
On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ591TyjSheOR-Cb_Gs_5Kw
© Daria Valkenburg