Tobique Valley Genealogy and Local History Group
"Lest We Forget"
A page dedicated to those in the area who have served in Canada's Armed Services
(This page too is "under construction", and contains only submitted materials. If you have stories, letters, pictures about a veteran you would like to see added to the site, just let us know email@example.com)
World War 1 Veterans
World War 2 Veterans
"Written in Stone"
This story, by Corinne Fitzherbert, was published in the Daily Gleaner, Oct. 5th, 2010
The stories of young soldiers who gave their lives on foreign soil have been preserved in a book called Written in Stone: Remembering Fifty Fallen Soldiers from the Tobique River Valley. The book was written and researched by a group of Donald Fraser Memorial School students who will celebrate its official launch on Thursday, Oct. 14 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in their school cafeteria.
"The children are so excited that the book is finally here," said Susan Harrison, teacher and editor of the professionally printed book. "They are very proud of it."
Harrison has led a series of projects connected to remembrance and to honouring the 50 soldiers from the community who were lost in the First and Second World Wars.
The idea for the book developed after Harrison took part in the Juno Beach Centre Professional Development Tour for educators in France in 2007.
The war cemeteries she visited contain the graves of thousands of young Canadians who never returned home and Harrison started thinking about the local men who died overseas.
"We wanted to tell their individual stories," the teacher said.
Harrison's class, as well as students in Annette Fitzpatrick and Debbie Rioux's classrooms, got involved with the project. The book was just taking shape when Harrison went to Ottawa to spend a week at the Teacher's Institute on Canadian Parliamentary Democracy. It was there she learned about the Lest We Forget cenotaph research project and met a representative from the parliamentary library and archives Canada who provided files on each of the soldiers named on the Plaster Rock cenotaph.
"So then in March, (2009) we gathered some community volunteers," Harrison explained. "Each student was given a soldier's file and they had an adult volunteer work with them on their research."
The result was a page dedicated to each soldier that reveals the details behind the names etched on Plaster Rock's cenotaph. Information on their family, their service, their interests and where they died provides a personal connection to the soldier.
"You can tell students that 44,000 soldiers died in the Second World War but that's just a number, and they understand so much better when they are involved," Harrison said.
The researchers were able to gather photographs of 37 out of the 50 veterans included in the book, although everyone has a photo of the place where they are buried. Those photographs were taken either by Harrison or by veteran Fuzz (Eldred) Bucci when they were in Europe.
There are additional photographs of monuments, the artifacts of Canadian servicemen and poppies planted in the school's Garden of Peace.
Bringing the book to fruition has been a journey for Harrison, who said many special connections were made along the way. When Harrison was in the Miramichi to receive the Minister of Veterans Affairs' medal of commendation for her work, she met a former recipient, Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Moar who served as platoon commander of "A" Company of the North Shore Regiment when they landed on D-Day.
Lt.-Col. Moar told Harrison "those who are forgotten truly died in vain" and Harrison found the words so poignant that she asked Moar if she could include the quote in the book. He agreed.
The book also features a poem written by John. W. Wentworth who was with Joseph Eloi Doucette, one of the Fifty Fallen, when he died in Italy. The poem is called To the Duke which was Doucette's nickname. The book also has the signature of each soldier as it appeared in their service records and Harrison noted she had the students and staff involved in the project put their signatures in the book as well.
"The signature of each soldier represents their vow to serve their country and our signatures represent our vow to remember," Harrison affirmed.
Remembrance is of prime importance to Harrison, who strives to honour war-time sacrifices every day. The book is dedicated to veterans Gerald Bucci, Eldred (Fuzz) Bucci and the late George Carvell, regular visitors to the school and its many remembrance-related projects.
The book is also a tribute to Harrison's father-in-law, Sydney Harrison, who was the first veteran the teacher knew and an inspiration for later projects.
Grades 1, 2, 3 and 4 students involved in the book helped to come up with the name, Great Cause Publishing, for their self-directed effort and Harrison said she is thankful to her niece Krista Merrill who worked on the design and layout of the pages. Financial assistance was provided by the Department of Education's Innovative Learning Fund, the Royal Canadian Legion, Marble Arch Branch No. 29 and the Tobique Lions Club.
Not only is the book a tribute to the community's Fifty Fallen, but also it is a valuable lesson in citizenship and in literacy for the young students who were involved. Harrison is hoping local citizens will come out and support their efforts at the book launch.
"All of these men have a story and I hope people will come out and discover those stories," Harrison said.