‘Yes, I’ll An­swer the Call’

KENNER STU­DENTS HEAD­ING TO FRANCE TO VISIT TOMBSTONES OF NINE PETER­BOR­OUGH SOL­DIERS WHO AN­SWERED THE CALL OF DUTY AND WERE KILLED IN SEC­OND WORLD WAR

The Peterborough Examiner - - Lest We Forget - By El­iz­a­beth Bower-Gordon

Thou­sands of sol­diers died on DDay - the largest seaborne in­va­sion in his­tory that saw the Al­lies in­vade Nor­mandy and lay the foun­da­tions for lib­er­at­ing Nazi-con­trolled Europe dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. Nine Peter­bor­ough sol­diers didn’t die that day — June 6, 1944 — but were killed in Nor­mandy shortly af­ter the land­ings and are all buried in Beny-sur-Mer Cana­dian War Ceme­tery in France. They were: - Joseph Thomas Hef­fer­nan, Cameron High­landers (June 7) - John Stan­ley Couper, Cameron High­landers of Ot­tawa, (June 8) - Robert Cameron Mil­burn, North Shore (NB) Reg­i­ment (June 8) - Sid­ney Howard Youngs, Stor­mont Dun­das and Glen­garry High­landers (June 9) - John Pa­trick Hob­bins, Stor­mont Dun­das and Glen­garry High­landers (July 8) - Michael Hob­bins, Stor­mont Dun­das and Glen­garry High­landers (July 8) - John Ernest Lew­ing­ton, Stor­mont Dun­das and Glen­garry High­landers (July 8) - Stam­ford J. Reid, Stor­mont Dun­das and Glen­garry High­landers (July 8) - Ernest Archibald Bell, Stor­mont Dun­das and Glen­garry High­landers (July 8) Nearly 75 years later, Kenner Col­le­giate teacher Teresa Friar re­flects on th­ese men and how, in a coun­try an ocean away from the bat­tles, there are few war me­mo­ri­als, ceme­ter­ies or ru­ins to help us re­mem­ber their sac­ri­fice. “In Canada, which was not phys­i­cally touched by war, it is so much eas­ier to for­get,” she says. “In the coun­tries where it hap­pened, there is no for­get­ting.” Friar wants to help change that. Over the win­ter, 21 Kenner stu­dents will re­search th­ese nine sol­diers us­ing archival and on­line re­sources, to pro­duce re­ports de­tail­ing as much as they can about who the men were, where they lived, the names of their fam­ily mem­bers, where they fought and how they died. In June, on the 75th an­niver­sary of D-Day, she and the stu­dents will fly over­seas to visit the ceme­tery. As the group stands around each tomb­stone, they will read out that sol­dier’s re­port, which she hopes will bet­ter hu­man­ize those who sac­ri­ficed their life for our free­dom. Vis­it­ing Euro­pean bat­tle­fields, war me­mo­ri­als and ceme­ter­ies in Europe is a tra­di­tion for Friar, who has been teach­ing his­tory and English for 26 years, first at PCVS and now at Kenner. She often co­in­cides th­ese school trips with ma­jor an­niver­saries such as the 90th an­niver­sary of Vimy Ridge (2007) or the 70th an­niver­sary of Vic­tory in Europe (2015). She re­calls vis­it­ing Europe with her hus­band Eric Jack­son, a re­tired Kenner his­tory teacher, be­fore she en­tered the teach­ing pro­fes­sion and be­ing awestruck that she was stand­ing on many sites where Eric’s fa­ther had fought in the First World War in­clud­ing Vimy Ridge. “It was very mov­ing for me,” she says. “I thought, if I’m ever a teacher, I will take stu­dents to have the same ex­pe­ri­ence.” They often do. While the teenagers are nat­u­rally en­er­getic and chatty, or suf­fer­ing from jet lag, they al­most al­ways have the same re­ac­tion when they step off a bus and wit­ness the enor­mous and ma­jes­tic war ceme­ter­ies that are so quiet and care­fully kept. “The kids get som­bre very quickly,” she says. The groups often spend about an hour at the ceme­ter­ies, some­times vis­it­ing tombstones of rel­a­tives killed in ac­tion, and talk­ing about the cir­cum­stances un­der which they died. Recit­ing their re­ports be­side each of the nine tombstones should make June’s event even more pro­found. Two of the sol­diers were broth­ers - John Pa­trick Hob­bins and Michael Hob­bins who were killed on the same day. “This is so im­por­tant be­cause th­ese sol­diers were vol­un­teers, for the most part, who trav­elled thou­sands of miles away from home to fight for some­thing im­por­tant and never came back,” Friar says. “In many cases, their loved ones were never able to visit their graves, as travel was not in­cred­i­bly easy or cheap. And th­ese young men were not much older than the stu­dents I’m tak­ing over. So we need to con­front their sac­ri­fice. We need to un­der­stand that th­ese were not pro­fes­sional armies, th­ese were armies of vol­un­teers who said, ‘Yes, I’ll an­swer the call.’”

A group of Kenner Col­le­giate stu­dents will be trav­el­ling to France next year, as part of a school project, to visit a war ceme­tery where nine Peter­bor­ough sol­diers are buried. His­tory teacher Teresa Friar, who is or­ga­niz­ing the trip, is pic­tured here with some of those stu­dents: Katara Walsh, Grade 12; Alexis Un­der­wood, Grade 11; Alyssa Leonard, Grade 10; Emma Lus­tic, Grade 11; Natasha Holy, Grade 11, At­tiya Muskan, Grade 10; Jorja Dar­ring­ton, Grade 10; Rowan Hag­gerty-Goede, Grade 10; Daniel Blondin, Grade 11; Logan Hay­ward, Grade 10; Ly­dia Ether­ing­ton, Grade 10; Jack Beda, Grade 10; Brig­ith Martinez, Grade 10; Mya Jol­ley, Grade 10 and Emily Martinez, Grade 10. Photo by El­iz­a­beth Bower-Gordon

Teresa Friar

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