Wartime Heritage                                   ASSOCIATION
Return to Story Archive
 Unlocking the Mysteries of A Name January 19, 2010 Article in The Vanguard (Yarmouth NS), November 10, 2009: By Michael Gorman novanewsnow.com Armed   only   with   the   names   of   3   young   men   inscribed   on   the   Yarmouth   War   Memorial,   Wartime   Heritage visits their gravesites in Normandy to pay respect and learn more about them. For   all   the   stories   people   tell   about   this   area's   contributions   to   the   Second   World   War   -   stories about   local   families   befriending   visiting   soldiers,   stories   about   East   Camp   and   West   Camp   and   Camp 60,   stories   about   the   men   and   women   who   made   sacrifices   for   the   greater   good   -   there   are   just   as many stories we don't know about. They   are   the   stories   of   the   names   on   a   cenotaph,   they   are   the   stories   of   people   such   as   Robert Francis Boudreau, Malcolm Rudolph Rose and Gordon Augustus Comeau. All   three   men   (barely   old   enough   to   be   called   men   but   certainly   too   old   and   too   selfless   to   be called   boys)   were   born   and   grew   up   in Yarmouth   County.   When   the   Second   World   War   broke   out   and Canada   become   involved,   Comeau,   Rose   and   Boudreau   were   among   the   thousands   to   remain overseas,   killed   fighting   for   the Allied   Forces   at   a   time   when   it   was   custom   to   bury   the   dead   in   the country where they were killed. It's   a   long   way   from   Yarmouth   to   Normandy   -   almost   5000   kilometers   and   for   the   last   65   years   that's   how   far   Rose,   Comeau   and Boudreau   have   been   from   home.   The   three   were   killed   within   three   months   of   each   other   -   Boudreau   and   Rose   just   six   days   apart   - fighting in the war, their names on the Yarmouth cenotaph; the only enduring marker in this area for their service. It   was   earlier   this   year   that   George   Egan   and   Glen   Gaudet   of   the   Wartime   Heritage   Association   (WHA)   set   out   for   Europe   armed   with nothing   more   than   a   piece   of   paper   with   three   names   and   directions   to   cemeteries   in   Normandy.   They   visited   the   gravesites   of   the three   Yarmouth   natives,   three   of   the   117   from   this   area   whose   names   appear   on   the   local   cenotaph's   Second   World   War   list,   to   place Canadian   flags,   pay   their   respects   and   try   to   learn   more   about   the   three   young   men   who,   until   Egan   and   Gaudet's   trip,   were   just names carved on a large stone on Main Street. "To   be   there   all   by   yourself   and   to   find   this   lot,   perfectly   kept   by   the   Commonwealth   War   Graves   Commission   in   the   middle   of   rural farm   country,"   said   Gaudet,   "to   walk   into   that   and   find   all   these   names,   of   guy   who   never   lived   there   and   came   over   to   pay   that   price for   a   country   that   wasn't   theirs   and   to   see   that   they're   almost   all   Canadians   [in   the   case   of   the   Beny-sur-Mer   Canadian   War   cemetery], it's humbling." "All   we   had   when   we   started   were   the   names   and   the   cemeteries   (where   they   are   buried)   [,   and   basic   information   such   as   parents name and age]", said Egan. Once   they   returned,   the   research   started:   Who   were   they?   What   unit   did   they   belong   to?   Where   were   the   units   at   the   time   of   D-Day? Since   starting   the   research,   sketches   of   two   of   the   men,   Rose   and   Comeau,   are   complete.   Solving   the   mystery   of   who   Robert   Francis Boudreau was is proving to be more difficult. "The   problem   is   reconstructing   the   stories   is…you   don't   really   know   what   happened   to   that   one   individual,"   said   Egan.   "So   the   stories that you're reconstructing are more general" [In that you might be able to find the story of the person's unit]. Rose,   a   lieutenant   with   the   Royal   Canadian   Infantry   Corps,   died   at   age   26   on   Aug.   6,   1944   while   serving   with   the   1st   Battalion   of   the King's   Own   Scottish   Borderers.   Rose   was   a   CANLOAN   officer.   From   April   1944   to   July   1944,   when   the   British   forces   were   depleted,   it was custom for them to pick up soldiers from Canada. Some   of   the   CANLOAN   officers   landed   in   Normandy   on   D-Day   June   6,   1944.   The   King's   Own   Scottish   Borderers   crossed   to   France   on   D- Day   and   landed   at   Queen   Beach.   In   early August,   they   encountered   the   German   resistance   near   Estry   in   Normandy   and   heavy   fighting continued from Aug. 5-8. The battle ended on Aug. 13, when the Germans pulled back. Rose   is   buried   in   the   Bayeux   War   Cemetery,   among   the   thousands   who   died   during   the   Normandy   Campaign   [(4,654   Commonwealth casualties in all; 181 of which are Canadian)]. Comeau   was   21   when   he   died   on   June   10.   The   young   Private   with   the   1st   Canadian   Parachute   Battalion   is   buried   with   2,234   other Commonwealth men of the Second World War in the Ranville War Cemetery. Comeau   was   a   member   of   C   Company   and   troopers   with   the   Company   were   the   first   Canadians   into   battle.   They   landed   by   parachute and   glider   on   June   6   and   the   cloudy   and   windy   weather   resulted   in   wide   dispersion   of   the   paratroopers   upon   landing,   Fewer   than   50   of them were present to begin their assigned tasks. The   group's   first   24   hours   were   very   successful,   with   them   gaining   ground   and   forcing   the   surrender   of   German   troops.   On   June   10,   the Canadians   came   under   heavy   German   attack,   an   attack   they   were   able   to   hold   back.   Operations   would   continue   with   Canadians vigorously   defending   the   crossroads   at   Le   Mesnil   until   June   17.   Of   the   27   officers   and   516   men   from   the   1st   Canadian   Parachute Battalion who took part in the Battle of Normandy, 24 officers and 343 men died. Boudreau,   who   died   on   Aug.   12,   1944,   was   a   Private   with   the   Royal   Hamilton   Light   Infantry.   He   was   the   son   of   Lizzie   Boudreau   and stepson of Charles Boudreau of Upper Wedgeport. He is buried in the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery. Because   little   to   nothing   is   known   about   the   actual   men,   putting   together   stories   about   their   service   comes   from   following   the   unit   or company   they   are   a   part   of   up   until   the   date   of   their   death.   Even   then,   said   Egan,   some   things   can't   be   known   for   certain.   Comeau,   for example, could have been wounded upon landing and taken to hospital or he could have participated in the battles on June 6 and 7. The   aim   of   the   research   is   to   put   together   a   booklet   of   eight   to   10   fact   sheets   that   can   be   used   as   teaching   aids   in   local   schools   so   that when it comes time for students to study the Second World War, they can study people with local connections to the event. Egan,   a   history   and   English   teacher   at   Yarmouth   Consolidated   Memorial   High   School,   said   the   information,   added   to   what   people already know and the things they don't, reinforces just how big a contribution the Yarmouth area played during the war years. "The   First   World   War,   the   Second   World   War,   the   Korean   War,   are   the   connections   of   Yarmouth   to   the   rest   of   the   world,"   he   said.   "It   is phenomenal   the   connections   that   exist,   literally   in   England,   in   Europe,   in   Normandy   for   example,   in   Australia   -   even   to   Japan   and Hong Kong." "There   are   young   guys   that   left   here   in   1939-45   who   died   during   the   war   and   so,   with   their   death,   if   nobody   keeps   the   story   going   it   is gone forever."
 copyright © Wartime Heritage Association 2012.- 2017 Website hosting courtesy of Register.com - a web.com company
Unlocking the Mysteries of a Name