The WW1 Names On The Cenotaph Have Stories Of Their Own

February 8, 2020. Recently, Pieter and a friend went to see the British WW1 movie ‘1917’, which is nominated for several Oscars and has a Canadian connection due to a map used in the film.  (For that story see  The story takes place in France on April 6, 1917, and is about two men tasked with delivering a message to another unit to warn of a German ambush.  The men go through several towns and villages in France’s Western Front.  Canadians may remember this period as being the lead up to the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917.

Pieter found the movie of great interest for several reasons. It was a depiction of the horrors of war… without being overly gory.  After being through the trenches and tunnels in Vimy Ridge a few years ago, he was intrigued to see the way soldiers sat on either side of a trench while waiting to go up into battle.   But the main reason he liked the movie is that it told the story of two people.

Contrary to what we learn in history books and classes, in the end all history is the cumulative stories of individuals.  A list of names on a cenotaph, such as the one outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, is meaningless without knowing who those people were and what happened to them.  This is what started Pieter on the journey to uncover the stories behind the names on the Cenotaph.

Over the years, the stories of those from WW1 have been told in this blog.  24 are listed on the Cenotaph and half of them died in France…. Patrick Raymond ARSENAULT and John Lymon ‘Ly’ WOOD are listed on the Vimy Memorial as their bodies were never identified.    Also killed in France were Kenneth John Martin BELL, James CAIRNS, James Ambrose CAIRNS, Arthur Leigh COLLETT, Bazil CORMIER, Patrick Phillip DEEGAN (DEIGHAN), Joseph Arthur DESROCHES, Percy Earl FARROW (FARRAR), Ellis Moyse HOOPER, and Charles W. LOWTHER.  We were at the Vimy Memorial and visited each grave.

Five men died in Belgium. Two are listed on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, as their bodies were never identified: Charles Benjamin Murray BUXTON and George Albert CAMPBELL.  We visited Menin Gate and the area where they died.  We also visited the graves of James Lymon CAMERON, Vincent Earl CARR, and Arthur Clinton ROBINSON.

Vincent Carr, who died during the Battle of Passchendaele on October 30, 1918, was initially buried in a trench with 4 others – two Canadian and two British soldiers.  Decades later, when they were reburied in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, all three Canadians were still identifiable.  The British Army’s cardboard identity ‘tags’ had disintegrated, leaving the two British soldiers as unidentified.  Today, DNA testing can be done to help with identity, but decades ago this was impossible.

Two men died in England.  John Goodwill HOWATT was wounded in France, and died in a British hospital.  Bruce Sutherland McKAY had gotten ill during the transport from Canada to England and also died in a British hospital.

Henry Warburton STEWART survived the war, only to fall ill while in Germany as part of the occupation forces.  He’s buried in a German cemetery in Cologne, which we visited.

James Graham FARROW (FARRAR) was not a soldier, but in the Merchant Navy, transporting vital supplies between England and France, when his ship was torpedoed by a U-boat.

Three men died on Canadian soil.  Leigh Hunt CAMERON died of illness, while Harry ROBINSON died from blood poisoning.  William Galen CAMPBELL was poisoned with mustard gas on May 28, 1918, a few months before the end of the war, but was able to return home.  And yes, we’ve visited those graves as well.

We were also able to tell you parallel stories, such as that of Clifford Almon WELLS, who had many of the same experiences as John Lymon Wood, and also died in France. Another story was that of George BRUCKER, of the German Army, who was taken prisoner during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and survived the war, never forgetting the two ‘tall’ Canadians who didn’t shoot him.  Decades later his son, now in his 80s, is still hoping to thank the families of those two unknown men.

Thanks to Pieter’s curiosity in trying to find out why one Commonwealth War Graves Commission gravestone in a cemetery in Cape Traverse was not recorded on the Cenotaph, we were able to tell you the story of Elmyr KRUGER, a soldier from Saskatchewan who died of illness while guarding German prisoners of war from a POW camp in Amherst.

We’ve told the stories of each man, and shared our visits to the various cemeteries and war memorials.  As photos and letters came in, we shared those experiences as well.

We are still missing photos of several of these soldiers, so the quest to put a face to every name and story is still ongoing.  Who are we missing?  Take a look and see if you can help:











It’s great to watch a movie about fictional characters, but let’s not forget the stories of real life people! There won’t be any Academy Awards given out, but they will be remembered. Research continues to uncover more stories.  If you have a story or photo to share about any of the names mentioned in this posting, please contact Pieter at or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

The Importance Of Remembrance


November 10, 2019. On this Remembrance Sunday, we’d like to pause briefly in telling the story of the Halifax L9561 commemoration events of October 12, 2019 to acknowledge acts of remembrance made this weekend regarding unrelated stories.

Yesterday, friends Jacqueline and Graham Hocking of England visited Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, England.  They’d read about two names from the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion that are buried there, and knew we had not yet been able to visit this cemetery in England.  In an act of kindness and remembrance, they took photos of the graves of WW1 soldier John Goodwill HOWATT (See The Archive Photo That Put A Face To A Name) and WW2 soldier Austin Harry BOULTER (See The WW2 Soldier Who Drove On The Wrong Side Of The Road).

IMG_4425 Nov 9 2019 Canada House CWGC site

Canada House at Brookwood Military Cemetery. (Photo credit: Jacqueline & Graham Hocking)

IMG_4426 Nov 9 2019 Cemetery exit with row of pine trees on either side of the road

Brookwood Military Cemetery exit, with pine trees on either side of the road. (Photo credit: Jacqueline & Graham Hocking)

Jacqueline Hocking by grave of John Goodwill Howatt.  (Photo credit: Graham Hocking)

Graham Hocking by grave of Austin Harry Boulter.  (Photo credit: Jacqueline Hocking)

Pam Alexander, daughter of Halifax L9561 Navigator Reg ALEXANDER, who had attended the commemoration events in The Netherlands on October 12, 2019, sent the following message:  “Thinking of Elmer Muttart, his family and all the crew and their families today as we watch the Cenotaph ceremony and observe the two minute silence for all who have fallen in wars and conflicts for the UK and our Allies.”  (See On The War Memorial Trail…..The Halifax L9561 Crew)

image1 Oct 12 2019 Muttarts grave

Grave of Elmer Muttart at Harlingen General Cemetery on October 12, 2019. (Photo credit: Pam Alexander)

Robert O’Brien, who also attended the commemorative events for Halifax L9561, wrote a brief summary of the events in the November 8 & 15, 2019 issue of Rotary Voice from the Rotary Club of Toronto.  (To read his article, see voice-nov-8-2019)

Thank you to Jacqueline and Graham Hocking, and to Pam Alexander and Robert O’Brien for these moments of remembrance. If you have stories or photos to share about the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, please contact Pieter at or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg


The WW1 Soldiers Who Never Left Canada

April 29, 2019.  Pieter Valkenburg, who is researching the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, has discovered that out of the 24 soldiers from WW1 listed on the Cenotaph, two never left Canada:  Leigh Hunt CAMERON and Harry ROBINSON, both of them from the 105th Battalion, C Company.

Leigh Hunt Cameron, born May 6, 1898 in Albany, was the son of Alexander Walter Cameron and Phoebe Ann Murray.  A farmer before being officially enlisted on March 2, 1916, Leigh Hunt contracted measles and passed away at the age of 18 at the Military Hospital in Charlottetown on May 5, 1916.

An obituary in the May 10, 1916 edition of the Summerside Journal noted that “A few weeks ago he took measles and was getting better when complications set in. Pneumonia and a weakened heart finally caused his death. With full military honours the body was conveyed to the 2:20 train Saturday afternoon, the Summerside band leading the cortege, and was sent to Albany. The funeral took place Sunday afternoon from the home of Mr. William Cameron, an uncle with whom Private Cameron had lived.”  He’s buried at the Free Church of Scotland cemetery in Cape Traverse.


Grave of Leigh Hunt Cameron at Free Church of Scotland cemetery in Cape Traverse. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Harry Robinson was born July 9, 1881 in Augustine Cove, the son of Thomas Robinson and Sarah Campbell.  One of the few soldiers listed on the Cenotaph who had been married, Harry was a widower.  He’d lost his daughter Merilla in 1911, and his wife Clara Wadman in 1912.  A carpenter before his official enlistment on April 28, 1916, Harry was sent to Valcartier, Quebec for training, where he unfortunately contracted blood poisoning from a cellulitis infection.

An obituary in the July 1, 1916 Agriculturalist explained that “The body arrived by the Northumberland on Thursday evening, accompanied by Pte. John Howatt. The deceased became ill last Saturday and died on Tuesday morning. The case is a particularly sad one as the deceased was the only support of a widowed mother, Mrs. Thos. Robinson, of Augustine Cove. He was a widower, without children, and was about thirty-five years old.”  Pte Howatt was John Goodwill Howatt, also of Augustine Cove, whose story was told in an earlier blog posting.  (See The Archive Photo That Put A Face To A Name)Harry is buried in the Tryon People’s Cemetery in Tryon.

Grave of Harry Robinson and family cairn at Tryon People’s cemetery in Tryon.  (Photo credits: Pieter Valkenburg)

Unfortunately, Pieter has not been able to find photos of either of these two men.  If you have information or photos to share on Leigh Hunt Cameron or Harry Robinson, please send an email to or comment on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg


The Archive Photo That Put A Face To A Name

March 15, 2019.  One of the biggest challenges in the project to uncover the stories behind the names listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion is finding photos of the men.  Quite often family members can be found, but photos, especially for soldiers who lost their lives in WW1, were not always kept by family.   Most of the soldiers who lost their lives were young and unmarried, and succeeding generations of nieces and nephews didn’t always want to keep what was left behind by grandparents or their parents.  Photos, particularly unidentified ones, and letters from unknown people were just not a priority for many people.

So it was a very pleasant surprise when, during a visit to the PEI Archives in Charlottetown, Pieter struck it lucky while looking through an album of photos donated by Jean MacFayden.  Most photos were not identified, but then, to his astonishment, Pieter found a photo of WW1 soldier John Goodwill HOWATT, of Augustine Cove.  Unfortunately, the other two men in the photo were unidentified, with only the remark that they were ‘two Halifax boys’. Up to now, Pieter has not been able to find anyone else who might have the same photo and be able to give more information.

P0006342 copy J.G. Howatt ordered from PEI Public Archives

Photo donated to the PEI Archives by Jean MacFayden, in which she identified John Goodwill Howatt on the left, and noted only that he was with “two Halifax boys”. (Photo credit: courtesy Public Archives and Records Office of Prince Edward Island, Acc4154)”

In this exceptional case, Pieter had a photo, which could put a face to a name, but was unable to find any family, a bit unusual given that Howatt is a well-known Island name!  Who was this mystery man?

John Goodwill HOWATT was born July 27, 1897 in Augustine Cove, the son of Edward G. Howatt and Emma May Wood, and had a younger sister, Cecilia Amanda.  After Howatt’s father died in 1908, his mother remarried, to Don Howatt in 1909, but she herself died on August 25, 1916.

A farmer before he decided to enlist in January 1916 with the 105th Battalion, Company C, Howatt had his medical exam in Summerside, but it wasn’t until March 4, 1916 that he received his medical clearance and was formally enlisted.  After that, things moved quickly, and he was on his way to England in June 1916, sailing from Halifax aboard the S.S. Empress of Britain.  On November 28, 1916 he was transferred to the 25th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry and sent to France, arriving there on November 29, 1916.

On August 8, 1918, the Battle of Amiens began in France, the start of the 100 Days Offensive that led to the end of WW1.  By the end the day, Allied Forces had forced their way through German lines around the Somme. There were 27,000 German casualties, 12,000 of which had surrendered.

The next day, August 9, the war diary of the 25th Battalion recorded that, “At 9:15 am, verbal orders were received for the Battalion to continue the attack in conjunction with other troops.”  After leaving Gaillacourt, where they had spent the night, “The Battalion rapidly moved to the assembly position – the heights southeast of Caix – and crossed the British front line, then held by the 4th Canadian Division, at 1 pm. As the Battalion moved over the ridge in front of Caix, they were met with a light artillery barrage, and strong enemy machine gun fire.

As they pressed on towards Vrely, the Battalion encountered “some hard fighting in a wood on the right”.  Undaunted, the Battalion continued on and the war diary gave an understated report of what happened next.  “On emerging from Vrely, ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ companies met with some opposition in the nature of an enemy Field Battery, which opened fire from a few hundred yards away.” The Battalion won this skirmish.  “Rifle and machine gun fire caused this Battery to retire, with the loss of its officers and three of its drivers, and the advance continued to Meharicourt, which was captured with little trouble by 5 pm.

It’s not certain exactly when, but at some point on the second day of the battle, Howatt was severely wounded in his back and shoulder from gunshot, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.  He was carried to a Casualty Clearing Station, then put on a train the next day to a field hospital.  On August 22, he was transported back to England and operated on, but died in a London hospital on September 7, 1918. He was only 21 years old.  He’s buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, England, which we have not yet been able to visit.

If you have more information or photos on John Goodwill Howatt, or are able to identify the two ‘boys from Halifax’ in the photo shown above, please send an email to or comment on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

The WWI Names On The Cenotaph

July 28, 2017.  With a plan to have a book and photo memorial ready for the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, Pieter wanted to publicize the names of the WW1 war dead.  While we had quite a bit of luck with the names from WWII on the Cenotaph, we weren’t so lucky with the WW1 names.

In some cases, family couldn’t be found.  Sometimes we found family only to be told they either never heard of the person.  Most of the time, the family was aware of the person, but no photo survived, let alone other documents such as letters or postcards.

So here is what we know so far….

  • Patrick Raymond ARSENAULT, born October 14, 1896 in Bedeque to Joseph Arsenault and Isabella, nee Richard. No photo.
  • Kenneth John Martin BELL, born March 28, 1896 in Cape Traverse to William Bell and Lucy, nee Rogerson. No photo.
  • Charles Benjamin BUXTON, born December 8, 1893 in Cape Traverse to George Edward Buxton and Mary Jane (May), nee Webster. No photo.
  • James Ambrose CAIRNS, born March 16, 1895 in Emerald to Terrence Cairns and Elisabeth, nee Hughes. No photo.
  • James CAIRNS, born February 22, 1897 in Kinkora to Thomas Cairns and Mary Jane, nee McDonald. No photo.
  • James Lymon CAMERON, born December 30, 1892 in Victoria to Edward H. Cameron and Susan, nee Harrington. No photo.
  • Leigh Hunt CAMERON, born May 6, 1898 in Albany to Alexander Walter Cameron and Phoebe Ann, nee Murray. No photo.
  • GG.A. Campbell blogeorge Albert CAMPBELL, born July 8, 1895 in Wellington to John George Campbell and Grace Emma, nee Barlow.

Photo: George Albert Campbell.  (Photo courtesy of Gerald Tingley collection)

  • William Galen CAMPBELL, born June 16, 1897 in Wellington to John George Campbell and Grace Emma, nee Barlow. He married Ida May McNally in 1919.  No photo.
  • Vincent CARR, born May 3, 1894 in North Tryon to Robert Carr and Catherine. He married Bessie Carr of Summerside.

1915 Photo Vincent E Carr in uniform.jpgPhoto: Vincent Carr in 1915, in the uniform of the 55th Battalion.  (Photo courtesy of Delbert Carr collection)

  • Arthur Leigh COLLETT, born December 8, 1888 in Victoria to Ella May Simmons, and was adopted by William Henry Collett and Alice M., nee Moore.Arthur Collett blogPhoto: Arthur Leigh Collett.  (Photo courtesy of Paul and Heather Moore collection)
  • Bazil CORMIER, born January 8, 1897 in Tignish to Joseph Cormier and Marie, nee Arsenault. No photo.
  • Patrick Philip DEEGAN, born November 25, 1894 in Cape Traverse to Alexander Deegan and Margaret Ann, nee Tierney. No photo.
  • Joseph Arthur DESROCHES, born August 8, 1891 in Miscouche to Zephirim Desroches and Priscilla, nee Gaudet. He married Mary Ann Wedge in 1910 and had 3 children: Elizabeth Eileen, Joseph Alfred, Lucy Priscilla, and Charles Arthur. No photo.
  • James Graham FARROW, born April 4, 1856 to Henry Farrow and Jan Gouldrup, birthplace unknown. No photo.
  • Percy Earl FARROW (FARRAR), born July 30, 1895 in North Tryon to William Farrar and Margaret Jane, nee McKinnon.
  • Percy FarrarPhoto: Percy Farrar.  (Photo courtesy of South Shore United Church collection)
  • Ellis Moyse HOOPER, born October 20, 1895 in Central Bedeque to Charles Frederick Allison Hooper and Bessie Marie, nee Moyse.

Hooper, Ellis Moyse blogPhoto: Ellis Moyse Hooper.  (Photo courtesy of Lana Churchill collection)

  • John Goodwill HOWATT, born May 8, 1894 in Cape Traverse to Edward George Howatt and Emma May, nee Wood. No photo.
  • Charles W. LOWTHER, born September 27, 1896 in North Carleton to Henry George Lowther and Bessie Cottrell, nee Wright. No photo.
  • Bruce Sutherland MCKAY, born April 15, 1897 in Albany to David McKay and Elmira (Almira), nee Harvey. No photo.
  • Arthur Clinton ROBINSON, born July 20, 1896 in Tryon to Albert James Robinson and Flora P., nee Scruton. His step-mother was Mary Mooney. No photo.
  • Harry ROBINSON, born July 9, 1881 in Augustine Cove to Thomas Robinson and Sarah, nee Campbell. He married Clara J. Wadman in 1905 and had a daughter Merilla. No photo.
  • Henry Warburton STEWART, born April 15, 1884 in Strathgartney to Robert Bruce Stewart and Ann, nee Warburton. No photo.
  • John Lymon WOOD, born July 8, 1897 in North Tryon to George William Wood and Martha, nee Heatly.
Photo Lyman Wood

Photo: John Lyman Wood shortly after enlistment in October 1915. (Photo courtesy of Gene Rogerson collection)

We hope you enjoy this third article that ran in July 2017, “Are You Related To These WWI Soldiers?” in the County Line Courier.    CLC July 5 2017 p4 Are you related to WW1 soldiers

If you have photos or documents you’d like to share, please email them to  Comments or stories?  You can share them by email or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg