Re­mem­ber­ing the Fallen

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

Vic­to­ria Vanier, Ot­tawa

Peo­ple pay their re­spects to fallen Cana­dian soldiers and Vet­er­ans in dif­fer­ent ways; sport­ing a bright red poppy on a lapel or over­coat at this time of year is the most pop­u­lar. Many of us will at­tend a Re­mem­brance Day Cer­e­mony or, at the very least, bow our heads for a minute of si­lence on Novem­ber 11th.

Two former Stanstead res­i­dents, Diane and Jac­ques Bouchard, have gone one big step fur­ther from the tra­di­tional when it comes to pay­ing their re­spects to Cana­dian soldiers: they went on a pil­grim­age to visit all the World War I mon­u­ments to Cana­dian soldiers in Europe. “Our whole trip was planned around where the Cana­dian soldiers dis­tin­guished them­selves,” ex­plained Diane from her home in Ot­tawa. “We vis­ited the St. Julien Me­mo­rial of a pray­ing sol­dier in St. Julien, Bel­gium, the Vimy Ridge Me­mo­rial, all the mon­u­ments to Cana­dian soldiers that we could find on the World War I web­site.”

The trip, which lasted twenty-two days, took months to pre­pare for. “A friend who works for National De­fense lent us some books and I read John Mcrae’s bi­og­ra­phy be­fore go­ing,” said Diane. The Bouchards also went to the Stanstead Le­gion to learn the names of lo­cal men who had died in the World Wars. Stanstead Le­gion pres­i­dent David Woodard supplied them with the names that can be seen on lo­cal mon­u­ments in Stanstead, the Rock Is­land and Beebe sec­tors, and Georgeville. “my hus­band and I were so moved to see those lists of nine­teen, twenty and twenty-one year-olds. It was so sad; we had chil­dren that age.”

The Bouchards wanted the list of fallen, lo­cal men so they could try to find where some of them were buried in Europe. “We were able to find the ad­dress of the grave of a Pri­vate Arthur Roy, from Stanstead, from a National De­fense web­site. So when we were in Europe we went to that ceme­tery,” men­tioned Diane. Once at the ceme­tery, a map helped the cou­ple find the grave of Arthur Roy from among 25,000; row upon row of iden­ti­cal, white head­stones, many never vis­ited by far­away rel­a­tives, some for­got­ten en­tirely. They rev­er­ently placed pop­pies at the grave of Arthur Roy, son of Joseph Roy, of Stanstead.

The Bouchards also took a pho­to­graph of Arthur Roy’s grave, hop­ing to find one of his descen­dants when they re­turned home to give it to. “I con­tacted a few Roys when we came back but so far we haven’t found the rel­a­tives.”

Through their re­search, Jac­ques and Diane dis­cov­ered a web­site that may be of in­ter­est to peo­ple who have late friends or rel­a­tives buried in a mil­i­tary ceme­tery over­seas. At www., pho­tographs of the graves of thou­sands of fallen soldiers are avail­able to look at or to or­der copies of. Not all of the graves of soldiers have been pho­tographed; it’s a work in progress. Diane and Jac­ques were able to find the pho­tographs of the graves of these lo­cal men on the web­site: Pri­vate Gor­don Hume Hand, Lieu­tenant Allan Rout­ledge, Sergeant R.C. Fel­tus, Flight Sargeant Arthur James Hen­der­son and Fly­ing Of­fi­cer Wen­dell Stu­art Cur­tis. “Now rel­a­tives and Vet­er­ans who can’t go to the ceme­ter­ies can still pay re­spect to their rel­a­tives or to their old friends,” com­mented Mrs. Bouchard.

Diane and Jac­ques were both im­pressed by how well-kept the mil­i­tary ceme­ter­ies are in Europe. “At all the ceme­ter­ies there were flow­ers and the grass is kept mowed. There are maps, lists of names and grave ref­er­ences, vis­i­tors books.” They also vis­ited an Amer­i­can ceme­tery while there to pay their re­spects to a rel­a­tive who died in the First World War. “At the Amer­i­can ceme­tery of St. Raphael, an em­ployee was at the gate to wel­come vis­i­tors.” The em­ployee didn’t only help the Bouchards lo­cate the grave they were look­ing for, he also filled the weath­ered let­ters on the grave­stone with brown sand so the let­ters would be read­able in the pho­to­graph. Af­ter tak­ing the pic­ture of the grave, they placed a cross, a poppy and an Amer­i­can flag.

The Ot­tawa cou­ple is now plan­ning a sec­ond trip, this time to trace the steps of Cana­dian soldiers in the Sec­ond World War. “We’re re­ally look­ing for­ward to do­ing a lot of re­search and vis­it­ing the World War II sites and mon­u­ments.”

Think­ing about the first trip, Diane com­mented: “I never for­got the feel­ing in the ceme­tery. As a mother of young men, I could re­late to the loss of so many young lives. 600,000 Cana­di­ans par­tic­i­pated in this War and 60,000 lost their lives. Novem­ber 11th is a day of Re­mem­brance and as we live in Ot­tawa, we are present at each cel­e­bra­tion. It is very im­por­tant that we re­mem­ber.”

Diane and Jac­ques Bouchard paid their re­spects at the grave of Stanstead’s Arthur Roy who was killed in the First World War at 22 years of age.

Pho­tos pro­vided by Diane Bouchard

Mil­i­tary ceme­ter­ies in Europe, such as the Li­jssen­thoek Ceme­tery in Bel­gium where Arthur Roy is buried, are kept in im­mac­u­late con­di­tion with well-tended gar­dens and lawns.

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