WESTVILLE — Veterans and members of Branch 35 of the Royal Canadian Legion have a strong bond with the cenotaph in town.
It was renovated about five years ago, with information panels rimming the rear of the cenotaph and a military personnel carrier parked on its right side.
Names of the many Westville residents who died in the First World War grace the left side of the monument, while slightly fewer names of those killed in the Second World War are located on the right side. Below is a list of those killed in the Korean War.
What dominates the cenotaph is the statue of Lt. Col. John McCrae, the physician, artist and soldier who gained fame during the First World War for authoring the poem In Flanders Fields.
McCrae was born in Guelph, Ont. on November 30, 1872 and was 45 when he died from pneumonia on January 29, 1918.
The statue of McCrae contains an inscription showing it was created in 1921 for installation in Westville.
Branch 35 service officer George Lees knows of only one other cenotaph whose statue is of McCrae.
“I think it’s very important,” he said. “What people don’t understand is that Westville had the most people in Canada for the size of the town join the First World War.”
“I think he represents what a lot of veterans went through,” Branch 35 president Donald Calder said.
While 2018 marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, it was also a time for Branch 35 to salute Westville residents who entered the war effort while marking the branch’s 90th anniversary.
At the time, Calder noted how the branch’s membership has risen recently to more than 125.
“It was a great event,” he said. “I think the Legion members and the general public were really pleased the Legion has been in existence for 90 years in various locations. I think people were very pleased with that.”
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.