Plaque recognizes Waterford's war dead

Berneice Kirkwood, whose husband served in the Second World War, and Scott Puillandre, who served in Afghanistan in 2010, were chosen to unveil the Veteran's Memorial on Saturday in Waterford. Michelle Ruby Michelle Ruby / Postmedia

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WATERFORD A plaque that puts faces to the names of all those from the Waterford area who fought but didn’t return from the World Wars was unveiled on Saturday.

A crowd gathered in the park along Alice Street, close to the Heritage Trail, for the memorial ceremony.

“When we’re walking down this trail, we should all stop and look at this and say, ‘Thank you’,” said Ian Simpson, president of The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 123.

The Waterford Legion, along with the Waterford Heritage Agricultural Museum and the Norfolk Remembers Committee, partnered for the project, with the Legion and its ladies auxiliary covering the cost of the plaque.

The memorial lists the 46 Waterford and area soldiers killed in the First World War and 34 killed in the Second World War. It includes a picture of each, their signatures and some details about where they lived.

The information was compiled by local historian and author Grant Smith of the Norfolk Remembers Committee, with supporting material provided by the legion and museum.

“From the beginning, we wanted a face with every name,” said Smith. “That wasn’t always possible.”

A poppy rests in the space when a soldier’s photo couldn’t be found, said Smith, adding that they “promise to keep looking.”

Included in the group is Norfolk’s only female casualty, Lt. Nursing Sister Alice L. Trusdale, who was 26 when she was killed in the Great War.

Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett said that when men returned from the battlefield physically and mentally broken, “it was the nursing sisters who had to pick up the pieces.”

Smith said the memorial is also unique in that it includes the names of six Haudenosaunee soldiers, who lost their lives in battle.

This is the second such plaque erected by the committee, established in 2014 as a centennial project to commemorate the start of the First World War. The first memorial was unveiled in Delhi in 2017.

The plan, said Smith, is to have all of Norfolk’s 415 war dead listed on plaques in various areas of the county, including Port Rowan, Port Dover, Vittoria, Simcoe and on Rockford Road.

James Christison, curator of the museum, said the location of the Waterford memorial is fitting, along Alice Street where soldiers paraded, across from an historic building that served as a drill hall, and near the Grand Trunk train station where they departed to serve the country.

Anne Anderson Kellner was at the ceremony to honour her father and uncles. Her uncle, Allan Anderson, was 21 when he was blown up in a tank in Italy. His brother, Lloyd Anderson, was 26 when he was killed in Dieppe.

To spare the family further tragedy, Anderson Kellner’s father, George Anderson, was pulled from the front line.

“I’m here to represent the Andersons,” said Anderson Kellner. “I couldn’t be any prouder a niece and daughter.”

Unveiling the memorial was Berneice Kirkwood, whose husband served in the Second World War, and Scott Puillandre, who served in Afghanistan in 2010 and is Norfolk’s youngest veteran.

“Let’s hope he continues to be our youngest veteran and we don’t send any more of our children off to war,” said Norfolk County Coun. Kim Huffman.

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