Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

Today is Remembrance Day (for those of you not in the Commonwealth) and with it comes sombre reflection and silence. It is a day for those who have fought in the wars, both past and ongoing. I am normally quite the pacifist and quick to condemn military action on the whole, but I am grateful to those individuals who have served my country and those who continue to serve. So I’m afraid you’ll find no wit or snark in my blog today. Instead, I will tell you a little of my family history and encourage you to share yours.

This is a photo of my great-great-uncle Arthur who was killed in 1917. He was my great-grandmother's only brother. He had been a schoolteacher in Saskatchewan, and was at Queen's University studying to become a doctor. He was 20 years old. He was originally listed as ‘missing in action’ when his plane went down (I think, though I haven’t been able to check because my mother is not awake yet to confirm this). This was the only notice given to the family, and his mother and sister died without ever knowing where his body lay. Fast forward to 2004 and with the marvel of the internet, my mother found his grave in this cemetery in Belgium. Nobody in our family has ever been to visit the grave, but I intend to make the trip sometime in the next couple of years.

Lieut. Thomas Arthur Metheral, Royal Flying Corps, 1896-1917

Howarth Lancaster Wolfe, 1920-2006

My grandfather served in WWII with the Canadian Navy. He originally wanted to join the airforce (all the cool enlisted got to be in the airforce), but I guess he didn't really have the aptitude because they told him, 'We'll call you when Hitler gets to the Rockies'. So the Navy it was. According to my mom, 'He was a radio operator in the Canadian Navy and served on a minesweeper, HMCS Quinte. During his time in the navy, he learned to translate Morse code and to tie dandy knots. He also acquired the ability to sleep through anything, and a fondness for overproof rum.' His ship never entered international waters, but in those days people on the East Coast of Canada really thought they might be attacked, so it was almost as dangerous as going to Europe.

My grandmother's three brothers also went off to war in Europe, and luckily all three of them came home safely (which certainly wasn't expected).

I'm sure many families have stories like these, so in the spirit of Remembrance Day, feel free to share yours in the comments section.


Lisa Kauffmann said...

Mom always talks about my great Uncle Thomas. Apparently he volunteered to go!!
I think it would be a great idea to go visit where he is buried

Gary said...

Hi - I came across this as I was researching my Wolfe family connections. My name is Gary Acheson - originally from Ireland, now in California. I had recently found that Howarth Wolfe was son of Barnabas Wolfe. I have information on his father George William Wolfe (1858-1905), and his father Barnabas (1829-1885) and his father Alleyn Wolfe (born Clonakilty, Cork, Ireland about 1796) who was my GGG grandfather.
My email is gacheson00 AT if you are interested in having me pass you more details.
Best regards - Gary