lest We Forget
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies grow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
With historical sleuthing, Southampton’s Bill Streeter, Chair of the Saugeen Shores Municipal Heritage Committee, championed a Remembrance Day program to honour the 82 men - The Glorious Dead - who died in battle in the Boer War, WW1 and WW2 in this area with commemorative banners attached to street poles in the communities.
Forty-five banners have been mounted to date, including all but two from Saugeen First Nation, of the 45 men who died in WW11. Twenty three of the banners have been installed in Port Elgin, and the latest six were released mid-October.
“The WW1 information is getting very hard to find,” Streeter said in a recent interview, adding many of the dead had no ties in the community.
“There have ben many deadends, but sometimes information just pops up - I had one photo come from Oregon, another from Kitchener - some come from family members and I had one submitted by a museum.”
Each banner, about four-feet high and two-feet wide, includes the veteran’s name, photo and their service (army, navy or air force), in a successful initiative to put a face with a name, and to remind the public of the veterans who came home, their sacrifices and the debt we owe them.
The latest banners include:
Nawash, the son of James and Liza Nawash, was born on Saugeen First Nation in 1893.
Prior to volunteering in the 160th Bruce Battalion he served with the 32nd Bruce Militia for two years.
He enlisted in January 1916 and sailed to England that October. He arrived in France with the 18th Western Ontario Battalion in March of 1918.
It was five months later, Aug. 27, 1918, that he died in battle - one of the bloodiest of the 100 Days Offensive at near Arras, France where many Canadians died.
Melvin Graham France
France was born in Southampton in September 1915, one of six children of George and Ethel France.
After leaving school France moved to Toronto and married Gladys in August 1940.
He enlisted in the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment July 1943 and went to England for training. Sept. 3, 1943 The Hasties landed unchallenged in Italy, but fought a vicious running battle with seasoned German Troops.
The Allies pushed the Germans further and further north throughout 1944, and by December were at the city of Ravenna, south of Venice and east of Bologna. The Battle for Ravenna was a major win for the Allies as they continued to drive the Germans out of Italy.
It was here, Dec. 5, 1944, that France died along with a large group of allied soldiers. He is buried in the Ravenna War Cemetery with 925 Commonwealth graves, mostly Canadians.
France’s nephew lives in Sauble Beach, and his niece in Kitchener submitted his picture.
Charles Morris Gilbert
Gilbert was the youngest recruit from this area, born in Port Elgin in April 1898. After leaving school he worked in Toronto and then returned home to enlist in the 160th Bruce Battalion in March 1916. He was one month shy of his 18th birthday, but got a certificate so he could train with the Port Elgin platoon.
He left for England that October and trained at Whitely and was soon promoted to Corporal. In July 1917 he was hospitalized for colic and then assigned to clerical duties at the Ashford Command office.
His health problems continued and following further hospitalizations in April 1918 he was awarded a good conduct medal and promoted to a position as Class 1 Clerk.
Sadly, in October 1918, he returned to hospital again with severe pneumonia and died Oct. 18, age 20 years and six months.
Gilbert is memorialized on a bronze plaque along with 3,327 Eaton’s employees that enlisted in the war. It is in the foyer of the Eaton’s Centre in Toronto.
Cummings was born De. 13, 1875 in Saugeen Township to Barbara and Patrick Cummings - the Reeve of Saugeen Township and Bruce County Warden.
Cummings sailed to England in 1900 when the British were at war with the Boers in South Africa. When the British invaded Pretoria in June 1900, the Boer troops commenced guerrilla warfare throughout the region that continued until war ended in 1902.
The battle at Nootigedacht was a success for the Boers The British camped at a farm owned by a British family, and were led by GeneralMajor R. A. P. Clement with 1,500 men, nine canons and more than 100 wagons of supplies.
The Boers had a force of 2,100, which exceeded the 1,500 British, who, under the dark of night, attacked the British outlooks - an attack historians say was one of the most able and courageous attempts in the war. The commandos forced the British into a gorge and trapped them.
Gordon Cummings died attempting to provide the outlooks on the mountain with additional ammunition from the base camp.
In that battle, the British lost 650 men, either killed, wounded or captured out of a total of 1,500. The Boers lost only 30 men.
The battle was fought Dec. 13, 1900, Gordon Cummings 25th birthday.
Gordon Lewis Saunders
Saunders was born in Southampton Aug.16, 1909 to Angus and Kate. He also had two brothers, Bill and Vernon, who were well known in town throughout their lives.
Saunders married Helene Murray from Stokes Bay in 1932, and had two children; Donald in 1933 and Sheila Anne born 1940
Saunders enlisted in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps and joined the 1st Ambulatory Company. In 1943 with the invasion of Italy, Gordon found himself in the action.
On the march through Sicily he died in the middle of the large island close to the city of Agira. His family is not aware of the details of his death.
He is buried in the Agira Canadian War Cemetery in Section D, Row F, Grave 461, on a high hill overlooking a lake.
Albert Henry Meyer
Meyer – known as Bert - was born in Southampton in January 1895, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Meyer.
He and friends from the local 32nd Bruce Militia travelled to Val Cartier Quebec to enlist in the 1st Battalion shortly after war was declared in August 1914.
In early October they sailed to England in the largest armada that had ever crossed the Atlantic delivering thousands of Canadian soldiers that had rushed to sign up in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
They travelled to Salisbury Plain for extensive training before leaving for France in February 1915. Meyer went into battle in the area close to the city of Givenchy.
March 5 that year he reported to the Field Hospital with a minor wound and then returned to battle to again be wounded; this time with a gunshot wound to the head on May 15th. After a short time in the Convalescent Hospital in Rouen, he remarkably recovered and went back to battle.
The third time he was shot was fatal and he had a battlefield burial, behind trenches east of Duck’s Bill near Givenchy France.
His body was never reported as found for proper burial and he is remembered on the Vimy Memorial as one of the many thousands WW1 Glorious Dead that the location of their remains cannot be identified.
Commemorative banners honouring the war-time deaths of Melvin Graham France of Southampton and Saugeen First Nations Daniel Naswash were displayed by Southampton Legion Branch #155 Sgt. of Arms Charles Schmalz and Branch 155 President John Willetts
Port Elgin Legion Branch #340 President Dan Kelly (left) and Saugeen Shores Heritage Committee member Bill Streeter displayed the banners commemorating Port Elgin’s Charles Morris Gilbert, who died of pneumonia in October 1918.
Along with a commemorative street banner, Port Elgin native Charles Morris Gilbert, a former Eaton’s employee, is also honoured on a plaque at the Eaton’s Centre in Toronto.
Gordon Cummings 1875-1900
Forty-five banners honouring The Glorious Dead have been mounted to date throughout Port Elgin, Southampton and Saugeen First Nation to commemorate the men who died in WW11. Twenty three of the banners have been installed in Port Elgin, and the latest six were released mid-October.