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 https://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/1917-canadian-contribution-1.5450608)  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:

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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 dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

On The War Memorial Trail….. Luck and Humanity During the Battle of Vimy Ridge

September 29, 2018.  Over the past few years, as the stories of the men on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion are researched by Pieter, the level of death, destruction, and hatred from war is incomprehensible.  If you travel through any of the WW1 and WW2 sites in Europe, you see memorials and cemeteries.  In Normandy, France it seems as though there is a reminder of the war dead around every corner.

In a kill or be killed environment of war, survival was a luck of the draw.  In April 2017, the County Line Courier published ‘Two Unsung Heroes of Vimy Ridge’, a story about two soldiers on the Cenotaph whose names are listed on the Vimy National Memorial in France, Patrick Raymond ARSENAULT and John Lymon WOOD. (See Learning About The Two Names On The Vimy Memorial) After this article was published, we were contacted by Ralf Gräfenstein of Berlin, Germany, who is helping the son of a WW1 German soldier determine what happened at Vimy Ridge.

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Ernesto Brucker of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Ernesto Ricardo Brucker, now in his 80s, who lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is hoping to find the Canadians who took his father prisoner during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, so he could thank them for saving his father’s life and not killing him when he surrendered.

Because of the actions of two unknown “tall” Canadians, Brucker survived the Battle of Vimy Ridge and spent the remainder of the war in a Prisoner of War camp in Skipton, England.  According to the Skipton documents, he was taken prisoner between Thélus and Bailleul-Sir –Berthoult, 4.4 km south-east of Thelus.

Jorge Brucker Skipton

Georg (Jorge) Brucker at Skipton POW Camp in England. (Photo courtesy of E. Brucker)

Not only were 3,400 Germans were taken prisoner on April 9, 1917, but there were 4 Canadian Divisions involved in the battle. Could we find out how Brucker became a prisoner of war?

Georg (later known as Jorge) BRUCKER was born November 2, 1896 in Erlangen, Germany, and 18 years old when WW1 started.  He joined the army and was sent to Poland, then to France.  During the Battle of Vimy Ridge, he was the Lieutenant in charge of a platoon in Machine Gun Company 1 of the Royal Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment I in Thélus.  They had been in the Arras area since October 1914 and held the villages of Thélus, Bailleul and the southern slope of the ridge.

On April 9, 1917, the 1st Canadian Division, under the command of Major General Arthur Currie, faced the 1st Bavarian Reserve Division, under the command of General of the Infantry Karl von Fassbender, halfway between the villages of Thélus and Bailleul-Sir –Berthoult. The 1st Canadian Division was stretched along a front of about two kilometres, with six battalions. The furthest from Vimy Ridge, they had some four kilometres of battlefield to cross in order to reach it!

Initial attack by 1st Cdn Division

Initial attack by the 1st Canadian Division (Source: http://www.webmatters.net/txtpat/index.php?id=1497)

The 13th Machine Gun Company was attached to the 1st Canadian Division in order to support the Infantry Brigades.  This is the unit that Patrick Raymond ARSENAULT was in. Was it a twist of irony that both Arsenault and Brucker were in Machine Gun Companies – on opposing sides?  Unlike Brucker, Arsenault lost his life in a shell attack on April 9, sometime around 7 am.  His body was never recovered.  Either he was buried in an unknown grave, or the shell attack scattered his body parts, making identification impossible.

 John Lymon WOOD was also in the 1st Canadian Division, as a member of the 2nd Canadian Battalion (Eastern Ontario Regiment), which was part of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.  Wood survived the Battle of Vimy Ridge, but his luck ran out on May 3, 1917, when he was killed in action during the Battle of Arras.

Left: Patrick Raymond Arsenault in 1916 in Summerside.  (Photo courtesy of Paul Arsenault collection)  Right: John Lyman Wood shortly after enlistment in October 1915.  (Photo courtesy of Gene Rogerson collection)

Dr. Jack Sheldon researched and translated German reports from the battle.  In his 2008 book “The German Army on Vimy Ridge 1914-1917”, he recorded a description made by Brucker’s Commanding Officer, Major Meyer of the 1st Battalion Reserve Infantry Regiment:

At 5:30 am on 9 April enemy drum fire, supplemented by machine gun fire, came down.  It was impossible to make out the position and in fact it was almost impossible to make out signal flares amidst the clouds of smoke and dirt thrown up by the shells.  At 6:30 am heavy small arms fire could be heard and, at that moment, a message was sent by light signal to the rear.  ‘Heavy enemy attack.’  About half an hour later the wounded Muketier Hangemann happened to pass Battalion Headquarters, reporting that the British (meaning the Canadians) had overrun the right flank of 1st Bavarian Reserve Division and had then attacked our battalion in great strength from the left and rear.

In the final attack, the 1st Brigade, which John Lymon Wood was part of, passed through the other two Brigades while the artillery dropped thousands of rounds.  As the attack began again, the wind started to turn, blowing snow and smoke from the burning village of Thélus into the faces of the Bavarians. This helped to hide the approaching Canadians, who encountered little resistance. By 1 pm the battle was over.

It’s not clear at which point Brucker was taken prisoner, but most likely it happened by 11:30 am at the latest, based on reports by Major Meyer, as recorded in Dr. Jack Sheldon’s book “The German Army on Vimy Ridge 1914-1917”:  “Not until 11:30 am, when all the grenades had been thrown and there was no longer any prospect of timely relief, did the remainder of the garrison decide, reluctantly, to surrender.

In the book, ‘The History of the 2nd Canadian Battalion (East. Ontario Regiment) Canadian Expeditionary Force in the Great War 1914-1919’ by Colonel W. W. Murray, he records an account of the capture of German machine gunners in the morning.  “The Scouts found considerable work.  Ptes I. F. Wismer and J.F. Harrison performed a particularly daring feat near the Loen Weg.  Working in advance of No. 1 Company, they observed an enemy machine gun coming into action against the Fourth.  Pushing forward, they secured the gunner, an officer.  The pair then descended into an adjacent dug-out and forced the surrender of three more officers and four men, together with the gun.”  Were these the two Canadians who captured Georg Brucker?  It’s unlikely we’ll ever know.

At the end of the day, the 1st Division had crossed four kms of battlefield, captured 2,500 prisoners, 40 machine guns and 27 cannons at a cost of 2,500 of their own men killed or injured.  Wood survived, Arsenault died, and Brucker was taken prisoner.

Many people today may be wondering why so many German prisoners of war were allowed to surrender during the battle, and not simply killed.  In his 1986 book ‘Vimy’, author Pierre Berton gives a reason why not every Canadian soldier saw the German army as ‘the enemy’:  “Letters and wartime reminiscences suggest that the Canadians often resented their own brass more than they disliked the grey-clad German.  You shot at him because he was shooting at you, but it wasn’t a personal matter.  He too was walling in the mud, only a few yards away.

Today, a memorial to the 1st Canadian Division sits in a farmer’s field, marking the Canadian and German front lines on April 9, 1917, on the road between Thélus and Bailleul-Sir –Berthoult.  Somewhere along this line is the spot where Brucker’s last moments of WW1 before becoming a prisoner of war played out.

CIMG8314 Sep 5 2017 Pieter by sign directing you to Memorial to 1st Cdn Division

Line in farmer’s field, halfway between Thélus and Bailleul-Sir –Berthoul, marks the front line where German and Canadian troops faced each other on April 9, 1917. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

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Memorial honouring the 1st Canadian Division in farmer’s field, halfway between Thélus and Bailleul-Sir –Berthoul, along the line where German and Canadian troops faced each other on April 9, 1917. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

After two years in Skipton, Brucker was sent to a Military Camp in Lockstedt, Germany in October 1919, and went on to work in a bank in Bavaria. He was sent on a secondment for one year to Argentina, where he met his wife.  They married in 1923 and he stayed in Argentina until his death on December 26, 1984.

Although we were unable to give Ernesto a complete answer of who to thank for saving his father’s life, we did find out the approximate area where he became a prisoner of war, surrendering to a regiment of the 1st Canadian Division (For a list of the regiments in the 1st Canadian Division see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Vimy_Ridge_order_of_battle.) Georg Brucker was very lucky to have surrendered to soldiers who showed humanity, not revenge.

If you can add to this story, have photos or information to share on soldiers from the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, or soldiers buried in The Netherlands, please let us know. You can share them by sending an email to dariadv@yahoo.ca or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

 

Canadian War Graves Netherlands Foundation Project

August 4, 2018.  This blog concentrates on the names listed on the Cenotaph Research Project.  We provide a summary of the research results, talk about our trips to monuments and cemeteries, and the families that we meet.  We occasionally mention interaction with other archives, and the information on the names listed on our Cenotaph that we’ve shared.

For example, when we were in France, we left information and photos on WW1 soldiers John Lymon WOOD and Patrick Raymond ARSENAULT with the site manager at Vimy Ridge (See  Visiting The Canadian National Vimy Memorial)  In Belgium, we left information and photos on WW1 soldiers Charles Benjamin Murray BUXTON and George Albert CAMPBELL at In Flanders Field Museum in Ypres. (See Sharing Information at In Flanders Field Museum in Ypres) Information on WW1 soldier Vincent CARR was sent to the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 in Passchendaele.  (See On The War Memorial Trail of Passchendaele and Surrounding Area) 

In The Netherlands, we did the same for WW2 soldiers William Douglas SHERREN and George Martin MCMAHON, buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten (See On the War Memorial Trail ….. At Holten Canadian War Cemetery) and George Preston SMITH, buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek. (See On the War Memorial Trail ….. PEI Soldiers Buried In The Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek) In addition, we’ve shared information with various university archives and regimental archives.

In this blog entry we’d like to feature a project in The Netherlands, the Canadian War Graves Netherlands Foundation. In this project, which is of special interest to Pieter because of his Dutch roots, the foundations for the three Canadian War Cemeteries in The Netherlands have banded together to create a digital monument for ALL Canadian war graves in their country.   Almost 6,000 Canadian WW2 soldiers are buried there! When Pieter was asked to help find families, stories, and photos, he didn’t hesitate.

Over the past few years, he’s put out a call for help through the various PEI legions.  Several families submitted information directly to The Netherlands, others sent information and photos to Pieter for forwarding.  The families of Carman GILLCASH and Daniel Peter MACKENZIE chose to go through Pieter, and recently the Comeau family in Nova Scotia shared information about Joseph Ambrose COMEAU.  All three are buried in Holten Canadian War Cemetery.  We’ve not met any of these family members, perhaps one day.

A few weeks ago, however, Pieter received a request from Alice van Bekkum, a member of the Royal Canadian Legion in The Netherlands, and a tireless advocate for remembering the sacrifice of Canadian soldiers in liberating The Netherlands.  Her request was to track down an article entitled ‘A Journey of the Heart’, about a pilgrimage made by the family of William “Willie” Alfred CANNON of Mt. Mellick, who was killed in 1945 in Germany (the article incorrectly says The Netherlands) and is buried at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery.  Pieter had placed flags at his grave last fall, so the name was not unfamiliar.

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Pieter at the grave of William Cannon at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

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

With the help of Jocelyne Lloyd, news editor at The Guardian, the article, written by Mary MacKay and published on November 8, 2008, was found and a digital copy was soon on its way to The Netherlands.  (See article: Journey From The Heart Cannon article from 2008)

The real story came when Pieter got in touch with Cannon’s nephews Carl and Alfred Cannon, and niece Irene Doyle to inquire about the possibility of them donating photos for the Dutch Project.  “Did we want to come to the place where ‘Uncle Willie’ grew up and meet them?” he was asked. This soon became a story of remembrance……

Carl Cannon now owns the homestead, and we expected to meet him and his brother Alfred. But we were in for a surprise! They invited their sister, Paulette Duffy, and their brother Anthony.  Cousin Bill Cannon came over from Nova Scotia.  Cousin Irene Doyle, who was featured in The Guardian story, also arrived.  It was a full house, and a happy occasion, filled with stories of Uncle Willie that they had heard from their parents and grandparents.

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At the Cannon homestead. Left to right: Pieter Valkenburg, Alfred Cannon, Anthony Cannon, Carl Cannon, Paulette Duffy, Bill Cannon, Irene Doyle. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

All of the Cannon nieces and nephews had been born after his death, which made this visit remarkable.  Paulette explained that “memory was kept alive as the family always talked about Willie.”  Bill said that his father Harry, who served in the Navy during WWI, was the closest to Willie.  “They were hellions as children, so the stories were so interesting!” laughed Pauline.

Andy Cannon, Willie’s cousin who was in the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, was with Willie the night before he died” said Bill.  “Did you want to talk to his son Garry in Sarnia?”  So another Cannon shared some memories, over a cell phone.

The Cannon family shared photos, letters, and many stories, which are making their way to the digital archive set up in The Netherlands.  Our last stop before heading home was to visit the Cenotaph by St. Joachim’s Roman Catholic Church in Vernon River, where Willie Cannon is mentioned.  “Every Remembrance Day I bring a photo of Uncle Willie” Alfred explained.  And sure enough, Uncle Willie’s photo came along on this visit too.

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At the Cenotaph by St. Joachim’s Roman Catholic Church in Vernon River. Left to right: Bill Cannon, Paulette Duffy, Alfred Cannon. Note photo of Uncle Willie on the Cenotaph. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

If you have photos or stories to share about other WW2 soldiers buried in The Netherlands, and haven’t already sent them to one of the cemeteries there, please help them build up their digital archive so that these soldiers will always be remembered.

If you would like Pieter to come and speak about the Cenotaph Research Project, or how Islanders can help with the Canadian War Graves Netherlands Foundation Project, he is open to receiving invitations.  Email him at dariadv@yahoo.ca.

Photos are still needed for many of the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion.  Please dig out those old albums and take a look.  You can share your photos, comments, or stories by emailing us at dariadv@yahoo.ca or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

Monuments In and Around Thélus

September 20, 2017.  When we first entered the town of Thélus on our way to Vimy Ridge, we passed by the Canadian Artillery Memorial, built to remember the sacrifice of Canadians from Artillery battalions who died in the battle for Vimy Ridge and the surrounding area.

When we were at the Vimy Ridge Visitors Centre, we saw a large photograph of this monument, taken when it was actually dedicated during the war.  The monument was built on top of a dugout.  The steps leading up to the monument marks the original entrance to the dugout.  The monument was unveiled by General Currie on April 9, 1918, a year after the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

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Photo of the Canadian Artillery Memorial as it was unveiled in Thélus on April 9, 1918. (Photo taken by Pieter Valkenburg of a panel at Vimy Ridge Visitors Centre)

After learning about the monument at the Visitors Centre, we made a stop to see the real one.

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Pieter at the Canadian Artillery Memorial in Thélus. The shell shaped columns surrounding the monument have actual fuses from shells attached to their tops! (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

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The inscription reads “Erected in memory of officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the Canadian Corps Artillery who fell during the Vimy operations April 1917.” This is followed by the units: Canadian Field Artillery, Canadian Garrison Artillery, Royal Field Artillery, Royal Garrison Artillery and the South African Heavy Artillery. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

CIMG8303 Sep 5 2017 Rue des Artilleurs Canadiens in Thelus

The road leading out of Thélus towards Bailleul Sir Berhoult is called Rue des Artilleurs Canadiens (Street of the Canadian Artillery). (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

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Across from the Canadian Artillery Monument is a sign leading to Bailleul Sir Berthoult. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

We then followed the road between Thélus and Bailleul Sir Berthoult.  Only 4 km separate these two towns, but it was the scene of much fighting on April 9, 1917 during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Not far down the road was a monument to the people of Thélus who perished during two world wars, a vivid reminder that not only soldiers are war casualties.

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Thélus memorial to its war dead in two world wars. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Halfway between the two towns, in a farmer’s field, is a memorial to the First Canadian Division, on the spot where they were opposite the First Bavarian Reserve Division.  By April 9, 1917 there wasn’t much left of the villages!

CIMG8314 Sep 5 2017 Pieter by sign directing you to Memorial to 1st Cdn Division

Pieter by the sign leading across a farmer’s field to the 1st Canadian Division Monument, about halfway between Thélus and Bailleul Sir Berthoult. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

We stopped at this monument to honour John Lymon Wood and Patrick Raymond Arsenault, both of whom were in the 1st Canadian Division during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and whose names are inscribed on the Vimy Memorial.

After an article about these two men was published in the County Line Courier in April 2017, we heard from a Ernesto Brucker of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who noted that his father, Georg Brucker, had been part of the First Bavarian Reserve Division and had been captured as a prisoner of war on April 9, 1917, likely at or very near this exact spot.

CIMG8318 Sep 5 2017 Memorial to 1st Cdn Division halfway betwen Thelus & Bailleul

Pieter at the 1st Canadian Division Monument, about halfway between Thélus and Bailleul Sir Berthoult. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

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Inscription on the 1st Canadian Division Monument, about halfway between Thélus and Bailleul Sir Berthoult. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

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A lone poppy was growing on the path towards the 1st Canadian Division Monument, about halfway between Thélus and Bailleul Sir Berthoult. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

In the next blog entry we continue to visit the cemeteries in France where soldiers on the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph are buried.  Comments or stories?  You can share them by emailing us at dariadv@yahoo.ca or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

Visiting The Canadian National Vimy Memorial

September 18, 2017.  After the tour of the Vimy Memorial Visitors’ Centre and the tunnels, we went to visit the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. Although familiar to us from seeing it on TV, the memorial is much larger and majestic in person.

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Canadian National Vimy Memorial from a distance. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

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Canadian National Vimy Memorial showing the twin white pylons, one bearing the maple leaves of Canada, the other the fleurs-de-lys of France, to symbolize the sacrifices of both countries. Beside one of the pylons is the statue Canada Bereft. Below the pylons is The Tomb. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Site manager Johanne Gagné noted that “this monument is special because it focuses on values the soldiers shared and ultimately gave their lives for.”  11,285 names are inscribed on the memorial, two of them who also are on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion:  John Lymon Wood and Patrick Raymond Arsenault.  Pieter immediately went to search out these two names.

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Patrick Raymond Arsenault inscribed on Vimy Memorial. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

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John Lymon Wood inscribed on Vimy Memorial. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

After finding the inscriptions, Pieter next looked for two plaques brought to the memorial in April by the students of Kinkora Regional High School and teacher Kevin Bustard.  Kevin had the plaques made after reading about Wood and Arsenault in an April 2017 article in the County Line Courier. (See CLC Apr 5 2017 p9 Two Unsung Heroes of Vimy Ridge)

To everyone’s surprise, the plaques were still at the Memorial. Arsenault’s was on The Tomb, and Wood’s was by his inscription.

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Tributes left on The Tomb at the Vimy Canadian National Memorial. You can see the plaque for Patrick Raymond Arsenault on the far left. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Pieter reunited both plaques with photos of the two soldiers.

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Plaques and photos of John Lymon Wood and Patrick Raymond Arsenault. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

While the plaques were left at the Memorial, the photos and information about Wood and Arsenault were given to Johanne Gagné, who told us that “the French are still welcoming and grateful for the sacrifices made by Canadians and say thank you.  They are grateful to Canada for keeping the memory alive after 100 years.  It’s humbling.”

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Johanne Gagné with plaque and photo of John Lymon Wood while Pieter holds plaque and photo of Patrick Raymond Arsenault. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

This was the end of our tour of Vimy Ridge and the Memorial.  It had been a special day and we salute Johanne Gagné for the time she spent giving us a wonderful tour and patiently answering our many questions.  Merci beaucoup Johanne!

In the next blog entry we explore two of the memorials in the Thélus area.  Comments or stories?  You can share them by emailing us at dariadv@yahoo.ca or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

A Visit To Vimy Ridge

September 12, 2017.  After a few hectic days when there was no time to do any writing as we were on the go from early morning until quite late in the evening, we now are settled for a few days in a quiet cottage in a forested area, and hopefully can catch up with all of the memorable days we’ve just experienced.

The most anticipated stop on our memorial trail of honouring the men listed on the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph was Vimy Ridge.  Two WW1 soldiers are listed on the Vimy Memorial, John Lymon WOOD and Patrick Raymond ARSENAULT.

Our hotel was in Arras, and Vimy Ridge was a 20 minute drive from there.  Just before the turn-off to Vimy Ridge we passed through the town of Thélus.  There is one stop light in town.  To the left are signs directing you to cemeteries and memorials.  To the right are signs directing you to more memorials.

Right by the stop light is the Canadian Artillery Memorial, built to remember the sacrifice of Canadians from Artillery battalions who died in the battle for Vimy Ridge and the surrounding area.

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The Canadian Artillery Memorial in Thélus was built during WW1 by the Canadian Corps. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

It’s daunting to see how many reminders of war there are in France.  Everywhere you go, you see memorials and cemeteries – both civilian and military.  It’s a grim reminder of how many people lost their lives.  It’s impossible to ignore or forget.  And it’s a very big reminder of how many countries came to help in the Allied cause during World War I.  It truly became an international war.  Every one of them has at least one memorial and the war cemeteries are filled with Allied and German lives lost.

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Pieter at the entrance to Vimy Ridge in France. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

The turn-off to the Vimy Ridge memorial and visitors centre is a tree-lined road, with jogging and walking paths, well used by citizens of the area.  It’s a public road that goes to the nearby villages of Givenchy and Vimy.

We were very lucky to have been given a guided tour of the Vimy Ridge Visitors Centre, which opened in April 2017, by site manager Johanne Gagné.

CIMG8275 Sep 5 2017 Pieter with site manager Johanne Gagne

Pieter with Johanne Gagné, Senior Manager, European Operations at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, who gave us a guided tour. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Among the many exhibits in the Visitors Centre is one that replicates the graffiti found in the tunnels of Vimy Ridge.  Using 3-D technology, exact replicas of the graffiti have been made, and researchers have tried, where possible, to provide a face and story to the men who made the graffiti.

Ms. Gagné noted that this graffiti display will be on tour in various places in Canada after leaving Vimy Ridge.  If it comes to your area, you won’t want to miss it!

We certainly had the right person to give us a tour, as Ms. Gagné worked for two years in Canada in developing the visitors centre before coming to France for two years as part of an interchange agreement with Parks Canada.  Hailing from Coteau-du-Lac, Quebec, she has a background in museology, exhibit design, and developing visitors programming.  Our interest was certainly caught, and this was from one exhibit only.

IMG_20170905_093513986 Sep 5 2017 Graffiti at Vimy Ridge by Kines & Holmes

Graffiti replicas of the 15th Battalion and a photo and short bio of two names inscribed below the insignia, that of Alvin Kines and Daniel Holmes. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

The Visitors Centre has many interactive displays, in three languages (English, French, German), and one of the displays is very personal.  It tells the story of World War I from the perspectives of a young girl, a soldier, a nurse, etc, and all the stories are based on letters and diaries of real life people.

We were fascinated by a wall of patriotic signs, urging support for the war.

CIMG8277 Sep 5 2017 Vimy Ridge Visitors Centre Pieter by patriotic signs

Pieter by one of the displays of patriotic signs. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

An interactive display explained the troop movements during the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 8, 1917.  Another interactive display gave a tour of the tunnels below Vimy Ridge. This was a marvellous solution to see the tunnels, especially if you were not physically capable of entering the tunnels yourself.

CIMG8283 Sep 5 2017 Daria by interactive displays in Vimy Ridge Visitors Centre

Daria by the interactive display of the Vimy Ridge tunnels. Behind are the displays of stories of WW1 by individuals. (Photo credit: Johanne Gagné)

We asked Ms. Gagné her perspective of the Vimy Ridge Visitors Centre and Memorial.  “Most of the time, people come and say that they came to honour the sacrifices made.  I asked myself, what does it mean to me?  Why have I spent three years on this project?  I’m giving the soldiers a voice.  I hope that through the exhibits, that we can show the public how the soldiers lived, what they saw, what they did, and close the loop by telling their stories.”  The exhibits certainly do that.  They are interesting and well done.

The tour of the Visitors Centre over, it was time to see the rest of Vimy Ridge.  On Pieter’s bucket list was a tour of the tunnels, a wish that was granted, and discussed in the next blog.  While he and Ms. Gagné prepared themselves for the tunnels, I took a look at the tunnels from the comfort and safety of the Visitors Centre.

Comments or stories?  You can share them by emailing us at dariadv@yahoo.ca or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

 

WW1 Soldier Private Patrick Raymond Arsenault Uncovered

CIMG7870 Pieter Valkenburg and Paul Arsenault Great Nephew of P.R. Arsenault.JPG

Photo: Pieter with Paul Arsenault and a photo of Patrick Raymond Arsenault.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

2017-08-07. With the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI coming up in 2018, Pieter has been actively searching for photos of the men listed on the Cenotaph who died during WW1 as he would like to have a Wall of Remembrance in the Legion.

Private Patrick Raymond Arsenault, who was born in Bedeque on October 14, 1896 to Joseph Arsenault and Isabella nee Richard, is one of the two men on the Cenotaph whose names are on the Vimy Memorial in France.  In the lead-up to the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April, his story was told in newspapers, and in a French language interview on CBC Radio-Canada given by Don Arsenault.  More coverage was given in the Journal Pioneer (see http://www.journalpioneer.com/news/local/2017/4/9/special-day-of-remembrance-for-bedeque-soldier.html ) and La Voix Acadienne following the commemoration ceremonies at the Legion in April. (See http://www.lavoixacadienne.com/index.php/patrimoine/1756-des-soldats-a-vimy-sont-honores.)  Unfortunately, up to that time, no family had been found, and no photo was available.

On Saturday, August 5, Paul Arsenault of Borden-Carleton, great-great-nephew of Arsenault, contacted Pieter to say he had a photo of his great-great-uncle after his aunt, Eileen Perry, showed him an article about Arsenault in the County Line Courier (CLC Apr 5 2017 p9 Two Unsung Heroes of Vimy Ridge).  “I found the photo in a chest that my mother Noreen had saved from her mother,” he said.  Noreen and Eileen are the granddaughters of Private Arsenault’s sister Mary Ethel Gaudet.

Patrick Raymond Arsenault from Paul Arsenault.jpg

Photo: Patrick Raymond Arsenault in 1916 in Summerside.  (Photo courtesy of Paul Arsenault collection)

It’s wonderful when family members are willing to help in the Cenotaph Research Project! Thank you Paul!  Readers, do you have more information on Patrick Raymond Arsenault?  Let us know by commenting on this blog, or email Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca.

See related article published on August 9, 2017  CLC p30 Aug 9 2017 Face for Arsenault

© 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 dariadv@yahoo.ca.  Comments or stories?  You can share them by email or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

Learning About The Two Names On The Vimy Memorial

Pieter Valkenburg

Photo: Borden-Carleton Branch Service Officer Pieter Valkenburg doing research (Credit: Daria Valkenburg)

July 28, 2017.  After the first article about the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph Research Project ran in October 2016, Pieter decided to focus on the WWI soldiers listed on the cenotaph, and began intensive research over the winter.

In the meantime the first article ran in the PEI Genealogical Society Newsletter and a shorter version ran in Charlottetown’s Guardian.  The Carr descendants of Vincent CARR had said that he was single, and the military attestation paper when he signed up agreed with this.  However, we found out that sometime between enlisting on June 5, 1915 and his death on October 30, 2017, he married Bessie H. Carr of Summerside.  Sadly she died a year after her husband.  Unfortunately, we have no photo of Bessie Carr, nor were we able to find a marriage record.  Can anyone help?

In his research, Pieter found two soldiers on the monument whose names are inscribed on the Vimy Memorial in France.  One was in the wrong place at the wrong time due to a name mix-up and died, the other survived the battle, only to perish a month later.  Their tales became the subject of the second article about the project.

Patrick Raymond ARSENAULT was the soldier who was transferred by error and ended up in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, died on April 11, 1917.

Plan_of_Attack_Vimy_Ridge where Arsenault died

Plan of Attack for Vimy Ridge where Patrick Raymond Arsenault died. The 2nd Canadian Brigade, part of the 1st Canadian Division, is in red. (Source: Library and Archives Canada/First World War map collection/e000000519_a4)

John Lyman WOOD survived the battle, but died on May 3, 1917 during the Battle of Arras.

Map of Battle of Arras near Fresnoy where Lymon Wood died

Battle of Arras near Fresnoy where John Lyman Wood died (Photo credit: Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919, G.W.I. Nicholson)

We have not been able to find any photo of Patrick Raymond Arsenault. Can you help?  John Lyman Wood is well cherished in the memories of his family, and his nephew Gene Rogerson provided a photo and background information to bring his story to life.

We hope you enjoy this second article that ran in April 2017, “Two Unsung Heroes Of Vimy Ridge” in the County Line Courier.   CLC Apr 5 2017 p9 Two Unsung Heroes of Vimy Ridge A shorter version of this article also ran in Charlottetown’s Guardian.

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