Me­mo­rial ban­ners serve as means of re­mem­ber­ing fallen sol­diers

Lo­cal his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety mem­ber speaks on fa­mil­ial ties to both World Wars

The Compass - - Front page - BY CHRIS LEWIS

When tak­ing a stroll down Water Street in Car­bon­ear, one would be hard pressed to not no­tice the dozens of me­mo­rial ban­ners lin­ing the road.

These red ban­ners bear the names and faces of the many vet­er­ans who served in a number of wars who, at one point in time, called Car­bon­ear their home.

The ban­ners were put in place in 2017 by the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion Branch 23 in Car­bon­ear, and fea­ture the names, faces, and in­for­ma­tion about in­di­vid­ual sol­diers who served dur­ing the First World War and Sec­ond World War, and are a part of the com­mem­o­ra­tive poster ban­ner project. As of Oc­to­ber 2018, the ban­ners stretch from Water Street all the way down to Crocker’s Cove, each one with its own story to tell.

The ban­ners hon­our peo­ple such as Al­lan Charles Hayter, a res­i­dent of Car­bon­ear who served in the Royal Navy dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

Other such names on these ban­ners in­clude John Cor­nish Sr., as well as John Cor­nish Jr. – two Car­bon­ear men who served dur­ing the First World War and Sec­ond World War re­spec­tively. Cor­nish Sr. was a pri­vate with just un­der four years of ser­vice un­der his belt. Orig­i­nally hail­ing from Europe, Cor­nish found him­self in love with a Car­bon­ear woman, for whom he moved to the island to start a fam­ily.

His son, John Cor­nish Jr. fol­lowed in his fa­ther’s foot­steps in a way by en­list­ing to go to war dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. Ini­tially, Cor­nish Jr. was as­signed air­crew class in 1944, af­ter work­ing as a sur­veyor for a number of years. Af­ter be­ing shipped to Toronto to com­plete ba­sic train­ing, Cor­nish Jr. was given the role of air gun­ner and was pro­moted to the rank of sergeant.

Keith Thomas, a res­i­dent of Car­bon­ear and mem­ber of the town’s his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety, is the nephew of Cor­nish Jr. and grand­son of Cor­nish Sr. As some­one in the com­mu­nity with some­thing of a pas­sion for his­tory, he says it is an hon­our to see his fam­ily mem­bers rec­og­nized for their ser­vice and ef­forts through­out their lives.

“Those ban­ners are rather sig­nif­i­cant, ac­tu­ally. They’re lo­cated just across the road from the home that they lived in when Cor­nish Sr. moved to Car­bon­ear,” ex­plained Thomas. “So, it’s like they’re over­look­ing, or look­ing back on, the home they lived in and had so many mem­o­ries in. It was a bit of an emo­tional day to see those ban­ners go up, but it was good. It feels good to see them get that recog­ni­tion.”

“Pop Cor­nish was shot in the leg dur­ing the war. He was in his early 20s, so it was some­thing he strug­gled with al­most his en­tire life. He didn’t want to hear any­thing about am­pu­ta­tion back then, and never did get the leg am­pu­tated, so it did give him trou­ble a lot,” Thomas said of his grand­fa­ther, who passed away of a heart at­tack in his 50s. “He would wake up at night some­times, scream­ing, think­ing he was back in the trenches – it was PTSD (post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der). His time at war re­ally did have an ef­fect on him, cer­tainly.”

Thomas has, over the years, ded­i­cated some of his time to re­search­ing the lives of these fam­ily mem­bers, not only to sate his own cu­rios­ity, but to en­sure there are records out there for those who may want to know more about the par­tic­u­lar in­di­vid­u­als. He feels this type of in­for­ma­tion is im­por­tant when it comes to re­mem­ber­ing the lives of those who sac­ri­ficed it all for their home coun­try.

With the help of fel­low His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety mem­ber Wil­liam Ford, Thomas was able to find some in­for­ma­tion about Cor­nish Sr. and Jr. that he was pre­vi­ously un­aware of.

He told The Com­pass these rev­e­la­tions give him a cer­tain sense of sat­is­fac­tion, such as the fact that John Cor­nish Jr. was not an ac­tual pi­lot, but a pi­lot of­fi­cer, ex­plain­ing why the hat he wore had a bib, stand­ing out amongst the other hats worn by those who served in the avi­a­tion por­tions of war.

“The only peo­ple that re­ally know about these peo­ple any­more are fam­ily mem­bers. Gen­er­a­tions af­ter their death, their sto­ries aren’t re­ally well-known, so I think these ban­ners serve as a great way to not only hon­our all these peo­ple, but to re­mind ev­ery­one that each per­son had a story,” Thomas said. “Now, peo­ple can know who John Cor­nish Sr. and Jr. were, or any­one who’s on one of the ban­ners. That’s spe­cial.”


John Cor­nish Jr., son of John Cor­nish Sr. served as an air gun­ner and sergeant dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.


John Cor­nish Sr. served as a pri­vate dur­ing the First World War. He suf­fered a gun­shot wound to the leg dur­ing his early 20s, some­thing that he strug­gled with for most of his life af­ter­ward.

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