Erin finds new ways to honour veterans

ERIN – The Town of Erin and Branch 442 of the Royal Canadian Legion are finding new ways to remember and honour the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the service of Canada.

They also remember those that served and returned; many with injuries both physical and mental.

Branch 442 Service Officer Doug Kirkwood said they have recently placed eight double-sided banners honouring those that lost their lives in WWI, WWII, post war and Afghanistan on the light standards in the vicinity of the cenotaph in downtown Erin.

Also, the Town of Erin will be naming new streets with the names of the fallen and to date eight streets have been designated.

With permission of Dominion Command of the Royal Canadian Legion, which holds the copyright to the use of the poppy symbol, the town will be placing a poppy on the veteran street signs.

With the assistance of the Legion, the Town of Erin has authorized the placing of six more names on the cenotaph.

Since Library and Archives Canada has completed the release of the records of the more than 600,000 who served in the Great War (WWI) our research has uncovered more men that lost their lives, who were previously unknown to us.

These were usually men from overseas who lived and worked in Erin and district for local farmers.

Some of them enlisted and trained with the local platoons of the 153rd Wellington Battalion in Erin and Hillsburgh before going overseas.

Having undergone medical examination by Dr. Gear and Dr. Gibson, they were sworn in by the local Magistrate, Wellington Hull.   Others enlisted in other units, both near and far.

With no family connections in Canada, the death of these men went unreported or unnoticed. At long last their sacrifice will be recognized, along with the others on the Erin cenotaph.

Each year, the Erin Legion places nearly 300 small Canadian flags at the graves of veterans in the various cemeteries in the Town of Erin. This past year the unmarked grave of WWI veteran Albert Eke was identified with a Veterans monument provided by the Last Post Fund.

On Nov. 2, the Erin Legion held its annual veterans dinner. This well-attended event recognized the service of the veterans attending and was an opportunity to again show gratitude for their commitment to our country.

On Nov. 4, members from the Legion did a presentation for the Boy Scouts at the Erin Public School.

The school is situated on the land that Norman Barbour once farmed. His young son, James Barbour, was enthralled by an old biplane that once crashed on the farm.

Jim had ambitions to become a pilot; which he did when he joined the RCAF in 1941. Unfortunately Jim lost his life in December of 1942 in the skies over England when his Spitfire fighter collided with a Lancaster bomber.   

In 2006, a memorial display cabinet in honour of James Barbour was unveiled in the hall of the Erin Public School with MP Michael Chong, nephew Paul Barbour and donor, WWII Veteran, George Short present.

Jim Barbour is portrayed on one of the new street banners and in Vol. VI of the Legion Military Service Recognition Book along with nineteen other local veterans.

On Nov. 5, members of the Erin Branch participated in the Wellington County Museum and Archives Remembrance Ceremony.

The program recognized the sacrifice of the war dead from Wellington County. Each name is recited and each of the fallen is represented by a marker with a poppy, their name and date of death, town or township represented and cemetery of burial. Those with no-known graves show the memorial that their names are engraved upon.

The over 500 markers aligned across the front lawn of the Wellington County Museum and Archives is a solemn and impressive reminder of the price that was paid for our freedom.