Monday, 20 June 2016

A pocket watch, a Canadian war veteran and a story of the power of international research

Now I grant you the above is not the most zippiest of titles but it delivers perfectly a turn of events.

The inscribed sentiment on the back of the watch
This is the watch of Earle C Duffin, born in Canada and served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.*

He was born in 1886, enlisted in December 1914, and sailed for Europe the following August and by the April of 1916 he was in France.

He was demobbed in August 1919, having attained the rank of L. Col and married a Miss Mabel Ryan on July 20 1921 and the Winnipeg Tribune carried a wedding picture.

And that pretty much was that.  I had tracked his story around Canada and up to his marriages although I did have to admit getting his wife’s name completely wrong.

But I wasn’t giving up and made an appeal through the British Home Children facebook sites in Canada.

And almost as soon as Canada awoke a full five to seven hours after I posted the blog lots of people went off to look.

"An interesting wedding" .......... July 20 1921, The Wnnipeg Tribune
Bobby was first followed by others and Kevin came up with a fine wedding photograph, and obituaries on both Mr Duffin and Mrs Duffin.

The wait was worth it.  After the war Mr Duffin worked for the Daily Express, and Bowaters in New York before moving to Britain 1929.

In all he made eight ocean crossings between 1919 and 1946, and died in 1948.  Mrs Duffin survived him by another twenty years and according to her obituary  she died in London in the February of 1968.

Now I know that they settled in Britain I will go looking for more of the story.

Mr and Mrs Duffin had two children and there were  three grandchildren and perhaps that search will reveal how the watch made its way to eBay where it was bought by old friend David Harrop and will be part of his exhibition commemorating the Battle of The Somme on July 1 in the Remembrance Lodge of Southern Cemetery.

The watch
So a little bit more of the history of one family and a pointer to how with a bit of international cooperation a story takes a new turn.

And that is one in the eye for those who deride social media as just a vehicle to show off pictures of cats and offer up an update on which coffee shop is currently in vogue.

So thanks again to those in Canada.

We have come some way from a watch on eBay!

Location; Canada,the USA and Britain

Pictures; watch of Earl C Duffin, from the collection of David Harrop, picture from the Winnipeg Tribune researched by Kevin Laurence

*Surviving a century ........... the silver inscribed watch,

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