The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 27 no 5, November 2015. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
Why November 11th?
Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the official end of the World War ihostilities on November 11, 1918. Canadians pause on this day in silence at 11:00 a.m. to remember those who died in war. The official Canadian national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. Local ceremonies are held in Chelsea (at 10:45 a.m. at Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery and Cenotaph, Route 105, Chelsea, at the graveside of Private Richard Rowland Thompson, the only Canadian to receive the prestigious "Queen's Scarf " for heroism in the Boer War) and in Wakefield (at 11:00 a.m. at Wakefield Cenotaph, followed by reception at Wakefield Legion).
As well as remembering those who died in war, this is also a day to refl ect on what we are doing as individuals, as a community and as a nation to support those soldiers who return from war, maimed in mind and body, and ultimately, to bring peace into the world.
Cantley sent its share of young men and two young women into service, as we have written about in past issues of the Echo of Cantley. We are fortunate that most returned home to take up their lives again. Sadly, though, several young men from Cantley or connected to Cantley, are buried overseas: William H. Smillie (1915, Dardanelle), Allan Farmer (1917, Passchendaele, age 21), Cletus Holmes (1943, Germany, age 21), Eldon Storey (1944, France, age 22), Donald D. Connor (1944, Netherlands, age 21) and Lawrence McGarry (1945, Netherlands, age 25). Let the red poppies that we wear in the days leading up to Remembrance Day, honour their sacrifice and that of their families.
The details of the heroic death of one of these young men, Donald Daubney Connor, the son of William Connor and Effie Daubney, is documented in Faces of War, A Collection by Dave Brown, published by General Store Publishing House:
"On the night of November 1, 1944, F/O (Flying Officer) Connor, the only son of William Connor, of the Connor Washer Co. of LeBreton Flats, was at the controls of a spanking new Lancaster bomber returned from a raid into Germany. The machine was fitted with the latest radar, and its operator, Gordon Leppington, thought there was something suspicious moving in astern, but was assured by gunners there was nothing. Then came a yell: "That sonofabitch opened up on us!" It was a German night fighter. A storm of heavy bullets ripped the fl oor out of the aircraft and set two engines ablaze... The skipper over the intercom ordered everybody to be calm, they had been through this before and made it home on two working engines left. He ordered engineer Ray Joiner to cut off the fuel supply to the burning engines. Then came the unexpected order from the skipper: "Emergency! Jump! Jump!"... The skipper fought to keep the craft under control long enough for his crew to get out. On the ground, residents of Linne saw the burning aircraft in a shallow dive heading for their village. At the last moment, the plane pulled up and over the community, and crashed a few metres clear of buildings. Even then, residents realized the pilot had sacrificed his life for theirs, and asked their German occupiers for permission to bury him." Donald was 21 years old.
"At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them" (For the Fallen, poem, Laurence Binyon, 1914).
Mary Holmes is a board member of Cantley 1889. If you have stories or photographs of your family members who served in Canada's military in World War ior Iior in Korea, Cantley 1889 would appreciate hearing from you at firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting any of its board members.