Thursday, 2 June 2016

Remembering some of Canada’s war dead in south Manchester

Now I don’t know where my great uncle is buried in Canada.  

The grave of T Williams
He was sent by the Derby Guardians in the care of Middlemore in the May of 1914, served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, survived the Great War and sometime after 1925 disappeared in the west.  

The family folk lore has him in British Columbia but it could equally be Alberta, and despite all attempts by my cousins in Ontario and me over here he has pretty much just fallen off the edge.

Of course he never quite goes away and so when Melissa, Chris, Jac and I discuss the family history he always surfaces at some point.

And today as we move towards the centenary of the Somme in July I have begun thinking of him all over again.

More so because there will be a special ceremony in our local cemetery to mark not only the beginning of that battle but also to remember those members of the CEF who are buried here.

July 1 is of course also Canada Day and it is fitting that the ceremony in Southern Cemetery here in south Manchester should embrace both the memories of those who died far from home along with a celebration of their country’s nationhood.

As I write I am looking at a picture of the grave of T Williams, number 171555 of the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, who died in March 1917.

The silk postcard
He will have been in the large military hospital close by.

This was the Nell Lane Military Hospital which until the war began had been the hospital of the Withington Workhouse.

In time I am minded to discover more about T Williams along with the others who are buried here.

Unlike our own British army service records most of which were destroyed during the Blitz those of the Canadian army are intact and so it should be possible to uncover his life.

Part of the new Somme exhibition
And here I have to thank David Harrop who altered me to the section of Canadian war dead and provided the picture, along with this embroidered silk postcard.

David has a vast collection of memorabilia from both world wars and maintains an exhibition in the Remembrance Lodge at Southern Cemetery and to mark the start of the Battle of the Somme he has created a special exhibition called For the Fallen.*

Elected members of the City Council as well as the MP have been invited to view the exhibition which will be open from July 1.

I will also be there and as I stand in front of those Canadian graves I will give a thought to our own BHC war veteran.

Location; Southern Cemetery

Pictures; the grave of T Williams, and a silk postcard, courtesy of David Harrop

** Coming Soon ......... an exhibition in Southern Cemetery ........... remembering the Battle of the Somme,

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