Display honours family
Prince County brother and sister create memorial ‘Because we can’t forget’
Standing beside a table she’d arranged with photos and medals and other items honouring her late father and uncle, Frances McAlduff explains the significance of her home’s 100th anniversary armistice display. “Well, we can’t forget. You just can’t forget. We wouldn’t – you wouldn’t – be here. I wouldn’t be here. Al wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.”
Standing beside a table she’d arranged with photos and medals and other items honouring her late father and uncle, Frances McAlduff explains the significance of her home’s 100th anniversary armistice display.
“Well, we can’t forget. You just can’t forget. We wouldn’t – you wouldn’t – be here. I wouldn’t be here. Al wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.”
The “them” she refers to are not just her father, Frank, who safely returned from the First World War, and her uncle, Jim, who lays buried in a cemetery in France, a casualty of the Great War, but all the men and women who fought for Canada and the Commonwealth.
Frances and her brother, Alvah McAlduff, put up in their home an annual Remembrance Day display to honour their father, his brothers Jim, Wilfred and Ed, and their mother’s brother, Billy Carter, for their First World War service, and their brother, Merrill, who served in the Second World War.
This year’s display is extra special, though, as it marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice which was signed on Nov. 11, 1918. Frances and Alvah chose to focus their display on Frank and Jim because they had signed up for the war while living in P.E.I. “We don’t remember Jim at all; Jim was killed and he’s buried in France, in Arras,” Alvah emphasizes.
Of course, that was before Alvah and Frances were even born.
Their father, Frank, made it to England where he contracted spinal meningitis. They suspect that might have been what prevented him from being sent to the battlefields of France, what saved him from the fate that awaited Jim there. He continued to feel the effects of meningitis after returning to Canada.
“Dad, apparently, had written home, to, likely his mother, and said in his letter, ‘Where Jim is, he won’t be coming home,’” Alvah explained.
Their father, who died in 1979, didn’t talk much about the war and they didn’t press him.
“He just couldn’t talk about it,” Frances acknowledges. Frank served as an air raid warden during the Second World War. Alvah and Frances still have the steel helmet, emblazoned with a “W”, that he wore when heading out on rounds in town once the siren sounded. “There are people out in the country who never realized that there were what we called ‘blackouts’ during the Second World War,” Alvah notes.
The siblings, who both served with the RCAF in the 1950s, are pleased their father and uncle are among the servicemen featured on the banners St. Anthony’s Legion erected in town to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.
The McAlduffs display includes their father and uncle’s medals, a plaque displaying Jim’s death medal, a photo of his headstone,
“This is just our way of remembering, because we can’t forget what they did. Some of them came home but a lot didn’t come home.”
and a copy of a page out of the Book of Remembrance which is displayed in Ottawa.
The copy bears the name of James McAuliffe, a variation of McAlduff. There are also photographs of Frank and of Jim in uniform, a photo of the Mauretania, the ship Frank sailed back to Canada on after the war, poppies and a Remembrance wreath and cross.
They will keep their display up until after the 11 a.m. service on Remembrance Day.
“This is just our way of remembering, because we can’t forget what they did. Some of them came home but a lot didn’t come home,” Frances reflects. “And some of them came home in not-too-good-of-shape, either,” her brother adds.
Frances and Alvah McAlduff show the 100th anniversary armistice display they set up in their home to honour their father, Frank, who returned from the First World War, and their uncle Jim, who didn’t make it back.