Post­card sparks stu­dents’ in­ter­est in Re­mem­brance

Writer found an un­usual way to help com­mem­o­rate First World War

The Peterborough Examiner - - Front Page - JES­SICA NYZNIK Ex­am­iner Staff Writer

A group of Flem­ing Col­lege stu­dents got some un­ex­pected mail this week that got them think­ing about Re­mem­brance Day.

On Wed­nes­day, a post­card ar­rived at their Wa­ter St. res­i­dence. They found it wedged into the door­frame.

Claire Shaugh­nessy found the card when she got home. She was a bit sur­prised by it be­cause they’d never got­ten mail (in fact, they don’t even have a mail­box).

It was ad­dressed to the oc­cu­pant (s) with a short, hand­writ­ten note: “Your house’s his­tory,” it read. “Over 100 years ago, L. Cpl. Sydney Ma­son Ward (775583), born Nov. 18, 1897 left your house to en­list in the Cana­dian Ex­pe­di­tionary Force. He would serve in with the 60th Bat­tal­ion in the First World War. We re­mem­ber.”

On the other side, was a photo of two men dressed in mil­i­tary garb stand­ing in a trench. “Courage, Sac­ri­fice and Be­trayal – The Story of the Vic­to­ria Ri­fles of Canada, 60th Bat­tal­ion in the First World War” was writ­ten along the bot­tom and the name Richard R. Pyves in the up­per left cor­ner.

“It was cool,” Shaugh­nessy said of the post­card. “I’ve never

seen any­thing like that be­fore.”

She left it on the ta­ble, where her room­mate Stephanie Stone found it.

Ini­tially, Stone saw the cover and thought it was a flyer of sorts for Re­mem­brance Day. Then she read the other side.

“I thought it was re­ally cool that some­body lived here 100 years ago,” said Stone, 20.

The post­card was sent by Richard Pyves, an au­thor who lives in Pick­er­ing.

Af­ter spend­ing eight years work­ing on his lat­est book, Courage, Sac­ri­fice and Be­trayal, Pyves wanted to go the ex­tra mile with some of the in­for­ma­tion he’d gath­ered.

In his re­search, Pyves in­ves­ti­gated 2,776 sol­diers in the 60th Bat­tal­ion.

Af­ter the book was pub­lished in March, Pyes fig­ured he’d do some­thing to hon­our the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of the

First World War, which is Sun­day.

He thought it’d be neat if he told peo­ple about a par­tic­u­lar per­son who came from a par­tic­u­lar house.

So, he screened the ad­dresses he had to see if the houses were still stand­ing. Some en­list­ment forms didn’t have a house num­ber, just a street name or a post of­fice box.

In the end, Pyves mailed out

310 cards. Nearly 200 went to homes in Toronto, and the Wa­ter St. house was the only one in Peter­bor­ough to get a card.

The home be­longed to Ward’s mother, Elsie, who he de­clared as next of kin. Since Sydney en­listed six days be­fore his 18th birth­day, Pyves thought there was good chance that’s where he’d been liv­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Sydney’s pa­per­work, he was born in Ash­ford, Eng­land.

He was a weaver by trade and stood about 5’4”, with brown eyes, dark brown hair and was sin­gle when he en­listed in Bramp­ton.

Sydney doesn’t ap­pear to have been wounded in the war, Pyves said, and when the 60th Bat­tal­ion broke up in April 1917, he was trans­ferred to the 87th Bat­tal­ion.

He later mar­ried, but Pyves doesn’t know if they had chil­dren or where Sydney is buried. He died on Sept. 20, 1972 at 74. The four room­mates were taken aback when they heard Sydney en­listed at 18.

“That’s so young,” Stone said. Brook­lyn Hud­son, 21, said she remembers hon­our­ing Re­mem­brance Day in school.

But as she’s got­ten older, she’s re­al­ized that it’s her re­spon­si­bil­ity to com­mem­o­rate the spe­cial day.

“I think that be­cause we got that (the post­card), it pushed us to re­mem­ber more than I typ­i­cally would,” said Hud­son.

Room­mate Maeghan Reilly said the card some­what changes the way she looks at Re­mem­brance Day.

“I def­i­nitely think it makes it more per­sonal to know that some­body lived here and walked around the same floors that we’re walk­ing on,” said Reilly, 20.

That sen­ti­ment is what Pyves was hop­ing for – a con­nec­tion to his­tory.

“Hope­fully it helps to make them ap­pre­ci­ate the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of First World War,” Pyves said.

‘‘ “Hope­fully it helps to make them ap­pre­ci­ate the 100th an­niver­sary ...”

RICHARD PYVES

SPE­CIAL TO THE EX­AM­INER

Au­thor Richard Pyves sent post­cards to ad­dresses that were once the home of Cana­dian First World War sol­diers. One of those cards was sent to Peter­bor­ough.

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