When 10 young men with Joggins connections went overseas a hundred years ago to fight in the First World War their deaths could have been forgotten, save for family members and friends.
But thanks to the efforts of Dara Legere and the Joggins branch of the Royal Canadian Legion their deaths will no longer be forgotten with the addition of their names to the community’s cenotaph.
When the First World War ended on Nov. 11, 1918 most people just wanted to forget about the horrors experienced in the trenches of Belgium and France and battles such as Ypres, Vimy, Amiens and Passchendaele. Tens of thousands of young men were cut down in their prime and the injures many more suffered lingered for the rest of their lifetimes.
Joggins at the time of the first war was a mining community and many young men and their families came and went as employment levels fluctuated or they left for opportunities elsewhere. Many of the young men who gave their lives on Europe’s battlefields worked in the mines and enlisted for a foreign adventure when war broke out in 1914.
Men like Privates Arselle Delveaux, Thomas Hamilton, Spurgeon MacLeod, Charles Jenkins, William Mills, Clifford Phillips, Edward Cormier, Archie Downey, Sapper Rufus Kennedy and Cpl. Roy Mills volunteered, went to Europe and never came back. Their connection to Joggins was not recognized – or simply forgotten – and when the cenotaph was erected in 1948, after the Second World War, their names were left off.
It was an honest mistake. When the cenotaph was erected, the honour rolls from the churches in Joggins were used to determine the names for the monument. Left off were those whose families had left the community or lived outside Joggins in Shulee.
Fortunately, it’s a mistake that’s about to be corrected and we applaud the community for coming together to make this happen.
With shroud of confidentiality coming off records from the First World War, Legere was able to research records from Library and Archives Canada, the Commonwealth Graves Commission and the Canadian Great War Project to cross reference the names that on the cenotaph with any names that were missing.
It would have been easy to allow the names of the 10 soldiers fade into history – just 10 more young men who lost their lives in a brutal war that started because of alliances among empires and the assassination of an archduke hundreds of miles from the battlefields of Flanders.
What’s nice about this story is there are still relatives of these young men living in the area. They would not have known their grandfathers, great grandfathers or uncles, but they can take pride every Remembrance Day when their names are read aloud and their memories enshrined on the monument for future generations to remember.