Dis­play hon­ours fam­ily

Prince County brother and sis­ter cre­ate me­mo­rial ‘Be­cause we can’t for­get’

Journal Pioneer - - FRONT PAGE - BY ERIC MCCARTHY news­room@jour­nalpioneer.com

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.”

Frances McAl­duff

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.

ERIC MCCARTHY/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

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.

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