BY ANDREW SMITH
LISTOWEL – A call is being issued for relatives of First World War veterans from the area who may be missing from the cenotaph honouring them.
Brad and Deb Matheson of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 259 said the invitation is a result of another resident coming forward with information on a relative who was killed in the First World War, but was missing from the Listowel cenotaph. After confirming the information, Brad said the soldier is indeed eligible to be included on the Listowel cenotaph.
“We know we’re going to put one on, because we’ve researched it,” Brad said. “He’s got the documentation and he was born in Listowel and went to school in Listowel.”
However, that made the Mathesons consider the possibility other names may be missing from the cenotaph, and invites relatives to come forward to let the Royal Canadian Legion know.
“I’m positive there’s probably names missing,” Brad said. “If they were killed in action and they’re not on the cenotaph, they should be on the cenotaph.”
Part of the confusion over the cenotaph’s history relates back to the manner of its creation, when the Women’s Patriotic League raised funds and erected the cenotaph after the First World War, and relied on local knowledge of soldiers to add names.
“They couldn’t get an accurate listing from any government source as to who died and who didn’t,” Deb said. “They’d just go door to door, or through word of mouth to find out.”
The search for missing names of First World War veterans has been made much simpler due to the public records of the Canadian Expeditionary Force being made available to the public, but Deb said it’s not as easy as doing a search for Listowel soldiers.
“They don’t allow you to search by location, you can search names and numbers, but you can’t search locations,” Deb said.
Documentation of a local soldier’s birth date, service number and ties to the area can help track down whether or not they were killed in the war and should be included on the cenotaph.
“If somebody’s got something, we’ll definitely research it, and get the right people to put their names on,” Brad said.
Although the First World War started nearly 100 years ago, Deb said increased knowledge and access to information may allow relatives to discover something new.
“People are really involved with genealogy now too, so they might stumble across something their own family didn’t realize,” Deb said.
Relatives with information are asked to contact Brad or Deb Matheson at 519-291-2070 before the deadline of July 31, in hopes of having names added before Remembrance Day.