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In 2013, Belinda Wilson was selected to represent Ontario Command in the biennial Legion Pilgrimage of Remembrance – a 15-day trip through Northern France and Belgium, exploring Canadian battlefields, memorials and cemeteries from both World Wars. Since returning home, Belinda has put together a unique presentation combining her photos, stories and songs to take the audience on a journey through time and tears…In the footsteps of heroes.
The Cenotaph in Fenelon Falls bears the names of those local men who served in World War I and World War II, and of those who paid the ultimate price in service to King and Country.
The Honour Roll
During the Pilgrimage, 23 cemeteries were visited – some of which are the final resting place of local war dead. It was my honour to visit the graves of four local boys – three from the Fenelon area and one from Kinmount – to acknowledge their service and their sacrifice on behalf of their communities and to tell them they are remembered.
Sun Quarry Cemetery
Sun Quarry Cemetery in Cherisy, France, about 13 km south-east of Arras. Cherisy village was captured by the 18th Division on 3 May 1917, but lost the same night. It then remained in German hands until it was retaken by the Canadian Corps on 27 August 1918. The cemetery takes its name from a flint quarry, known to the army as Sun Quarry. It was made by fighting units, and most of those buried in the cemetery were killed between 26 August and 28 September 1918.
Sun Quarry's Headstones
Sun Quarry Cemetery contains 191 First World War burials, eight of them unidentified.
C.N. Metcalfe's Headstone
Sun Quarry Cemetery is the final resting place of Private Charles Norman Metcalfe.
Private Charles Norman Metcalfe
Metcalfe was born July 7, 1886 in Verulam Township and died September 15, 1918, being killed in action in France.
Rank – Private, Reg No-724183
Canadian Machine Gun Corps
He was a farmer, single, and enlisted in Lindsay April 3, 1916.
Metcalfe's 'Dead Man's Penny'
After the Great War, the family of every serviceman killed received a bronze plaque of condolence, also known as the ‘Dead Man’s Penny’. Each coin is a hefty 4.75″ in diameter. 1,355,000 were issued, made from 450 tons of bronze. No rank was stated, because there was no distinction made between the sacrifice of individuals.
Receiving the Plaque
Charles Metcalfe’s parents, George Henry Metcalfe and Catherine Augusta Metcalfe of Fenelon Falls, were presented the Dead Man’s Penny following the death of their son. Charles’ brothers, Lawrence and George, also served. They returned home safely at the end of the war.
Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery
Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery is located 12 Kms west of Ieper (Ypres) town centre, and is the second largest CWGC cemetery in Belgium. During the First World War, the village of Lijssenthoek was situated on the main communication line between the Allied military bases in the rear and the Ypres battlefields. Close to the Front, but out of the extreme range of most German field artillery, it became a natural place to establish casualty clearing stations. The cemetery was first used by the French 15th Hopital D’Evacuation and in June 1915, it began to be used by casualty clearing stations of the Commonwealth forces. The cemetery contains 9,901 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 24 being unidentified. There are 883 war graves of other nationalities, mostly French and German, 11 of these are unidentified. There is 1 Non World War burial here. (Information taken from Commonwealth War Graves Commission website)
J.W. Shankland's Headstone
Private J.W. Shankland, of the 20th Battalion Canadian Infantry, was born January 30, 1897 in Somerville Township, and died at age 19 of battle wounds (shell wounds to the scalp, right leg, right arm, and a left leg fracture) on November 9, 1917 at 10 Casualty Clearing Station.
Records provide the following information:
Reg No -725524, farmer, single, enlisted in Nov 15, 1915 in Fenelon Falls ON
Parents – Thomas and Wilhelmina Shankland, Fenelon Falls ON
Siblings – Thomas Albert Shankland Esq., Nora Helen Shankland, Charles Wesley Shankland.
Shankland's Dead Man's Penny
Shankland’s family were presented this Dead Man’s Penny following his death.
Robert Henry Mark
Private Robert Henry Mark was born September 17, 1883 in Cameron, served in the 38th Battalion Canadian Infantry, and died of wounds on November 3, 1917 at the age of 33.
Reg No -724272, Enlisted in Lindsay ON, Apr 29,1916, shown as a farmer, married to Margaret Mark of Cameron.
His father was Henry Mark.
It was an honour to pay my respects on behalf of our community to Private John Wilfred Shankland and Private Robert H. Mark.
Bretteville-sur-Laize Cemetery lies on the west side of the main road from Caen to Falaise (route N158) about 14 kilometres south of Caen and just north of the village of Cintheaux. The village of Bretteville lies 3 kilometres south-west of the cemetery.
Headstone at Bretteville-sur-Laize
The Allied offensive in north-western Europe began with the Normandy landings of 6 June 1944. For the most part, those buried at Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery died during the later stages of the battle of Normandy, the capture of Caen and the thrust southwards – led initially by the 4th Canadian and 1st Polish Armoured Divisions – to close the Falaise Gap. Almost every unit of Canadian 2nd Corps is represented in the cemetery. The cemetery contains 2,958 Second World War burials, the majority Canadian, and 87 of them unidentified.
John Hamilton McGrath
At eternal rest here is Gunner John Hamilton McGrath, 45 Battery, 7 Medium Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery. Gunner McGrath died 24 July 1944, at the age of 23, and was the son of Thomas Edward and Phyllis Elizabeth McGrath. He is mourned by the community of Kinmount, and the village’s Legion Branch 441 is named in his honour, and his memory.
Each cemetery under the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission contains a guest book, and it was a privilege to sign this one on behalf of McGrath’s community.
I also visited the Menin Gate in Ieper (Ypres), Belgium, where five of our war dead are commemorated – Robert Carew, Russell Alexander Cragg, Robert John Donaldson and Malcolm Martin…
and the Vimy Memorial in France, where eleven names inscribed can also be found on our Cenotaph: Walter Cosby, Norman Finley, Joseph Gordon, Herbert Hilton Hadley, George C. Hall, Majore Horace Hutchins, Irvine Junkin, Leslie B. Quigg, James Thomas Sandiland, Charles Howard Stinson and William Warwick…
…but those are stories for another time.
Lest We Forget