A cemetery is a place of remembrance of those citizens who once held a place in the surrounding community. Wars have had such a significant impact on not only the “soldiers” but their families, that in Greenwood Cemetery, there are over 80 memorial markers with some reference to military service in the inscription. A few remember a family member Killed in Action and buried somewhere in Europe, but most give some indication of the participation in war of a former resident.
In this chapter we highlight just a few of those who enlisted to serve their town, country, and in the case of recent immigrants, their homeland.
On the family memorial stone;
“In loving memory of Mark W. Williams, Lieut. P.P.C.L.I., second son of W.H. and Emma Williams. Born Oct 15 1893. Killed in Action at Passchendaele, Belgium, Oct 30 1917.”
The Henry Williams family farm was located on Maple Avenue across from the current mall.
There were 4 sons in the family, 3 of whom went overseas in WW1. Brothers Mark and Jack had been attending the University of Toronto. Mark was studying law and Jack had just graduated with an honours degree in Civil Engineering.
Both sons enlisted in the spring of 1915.
Mark Williams went overseas as a private with the 2nd University Company, attached to the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry. In June of 1917, he took out his commission as a Lieutenant.
Mark was killed in action at Passchendaele, 30 Oct 1917.
John (Jack) Williams had signed up with the 26th University Battery and served in France with the 5th C.F.A. brigade. The day after receiving the telegram of Mark’s death, Mr. and Mrs. Williams received word that their son Jack had been admitted to hospital suffering from a gunshot wound in the head, also at Passchendale, on Oct 29th, the day before his brother was killed.
Jack in the middle
Jack was able to return home in 1918. After his discharge from the army, Jack accepted a position as resident engineer with the Montreal Foundation Co. At Buckingham Quebec, he had charge of erecting a large power plant and the reconstruction of a bridge.
On Sunday August 8th 1920, 5 days after his 28th birthday, Jack and friends were enjoying swimming in the Gatineau River. While Jack was sitting on the bank, watching the others, he was overcome with the heat and fell down the embankment, drowning in the deep river.
Two members of the company he was employed with traveled to Burlington to attend his funeral.
The 3rd son Russell H Williams went overseas in July of 1917 with the Royal Flying Corps. He was sent to France in November of that year and in February of 1918 received several gunshot wounds in this right side. Family members have his cheque book, with a bullet hole, possibly saving his life.
An interesting side story about Russell was reported in the Burlington Gazette in June of 1917, shortly before he went overseas. One morning “Aviator” Russell Williams and a friend, each flew a small plane from Camp Borden via Toronto, to Burlington. They circled the Williams farm and the Maple Avenue School where the boys had attended, before landing in Mr. Jacob Peart’s field, north of the C.N.R. tracks. Russell went home for lunch, and his friend to an uncle’s home on Locust St.
Several hundred people made their way to view these planes during the afternoon. About 4 o’clock, both lifted off for their return flight to Camp Borden. “Both men handled their machines superbly and were given cheer by the spectators.”
On the family memorial stone;
“ son F/O David Cooper R.C.A.F. buried in England 1915 – 1944.”
Walter David Dick Cooper attended Burlington Central Public and High Schools. He was a good student earning the M.M Robinson Gold Medal for the year 1931, given for athletics and scholarship. Following high school, David worked for a Maple Avenue market gardener, then in 1936 traveled north for employment with the International Nickle Co.
David joined the R.C.A.F. in June of 1942, and spent most of the next year and a half in western Canada training as a pilot officer (navigator). He arrived in England in March of 1944, and was assigned to a Canadian bomber squadron.
Six months later, Sept 29 1944, after a night operation, his aircraft, attempting in a dense fog to land at home base in Surrey England crashed into a hill. All the crew was killed. David was 29 years of age. He was posthumously awarded the operational wings of the R.C.A.F. for gallant service in action.
Although no reference is made on the marker in Greenwood, David Cooper’s father, Walter Francis Cooper served in WW1 with the 164th Battalion, enlisting in April of 1916 at the age of 34 years. He left for England in April 1917, leaving behind his wife, son David aged two and a newborn daughter, Jessie. He following year, in April 1918 he arrived in France, attached to the 44th Canadian Infantry Battalion. In September Walter sustained a gun shot wound to his left leg and was sent back to England for recovery. On February 1919 he was sent back to Canada, and his home in Burlington. Walter was discharged in April of 1919, three years after enlisting. Walter had attained the rank of Sergeant.
On the family memorial stone;
“ Lieut G. Burt Sovereign 1917 – 1941 interred at Bergen-op-Zoom Holland.”
Burt Sovereign was a son of David and Annie (Burt) Sovereign. He attended S.S. No. 14 School on Maple Avenue and Central High School.
Burt joined the Lorne Scots Reserve Army early in 1942. He was sent to Gordon Head B.C. for officers training. In June of 1943, Burt was married to Cpl. Helen Vandrick of the C.W.A.C. He went to England in February 1944, and in August was sent to France, attached to the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada. Burt was killed in action two months later, while leading his whole company in an effort to clear the approach to the port of Antwerp. Burt was 26 years of age.
Burt Sovereign at S.S. No. 14
Almost 20 years later, his brother Earl Sovereign, a market gardener, received notification that a small lake, about 6 miles south of Parry Sound, had been named “Sovereign Lake”, by the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys, in respect of Burt Sovereign’s service. The family had no prior knowledge that this honor was happening.
On her marker on the family plot;
“ Lieut. Evelyn Fairlie Elizabeth McClenehan Royal Canadian Army, Medical Corps
died Jan 15 1960 age 42 years.”
Evelyn was the eldest daughter of Dr. Claude and Mary McClenahan, a member of the Black Watch Association in Toronto where she lived and died suddenly in 1960. Evelyn had served as a nursing sister with the Royal Canadian Army, Medical Corps.
Her father served the Provincial Government in his capacity as a Psychiatrist for various hospitals in Ontario for 47 years. On the voters list of 1945, Penetanguishene, he is listed as Superintendent of the Ontario Hospital. Also on the list are his wife, daughter, Miss Evelyn RCAMC and son Blair RCAF.
The McClenahan family lived for many years at Indian Point, in Burlington. A sister Ellen, was married to Burlington dentist, Dr. Murray Weaver.
On his memorial marker;
“Staf Sgt. Major Gordon M. DeLargie (102 Battery ) Aug 5 1898 – Mar 13 1941”
Gordon Delargie lived with his wife Elsie and daughter Dorothy on Seneca Street. For a few years he had been employed on the bascule bridge at the Beach canal. He was a member of the town volunteer fire brigade and the Legion Post 60th, with a special interest in the welfare of veterans.
Firehall ca 1915
During WW1, Gordon served in France, with the 164th battalion.A recruitment group for the 102 Field Battery in Dundas, came to Burlington in August of 1940 and Gordon with others enlisted. He subsequently was made troop Sergeant Major.
In preparation to be in the best of health to once again go overseas, Gordon elected to have a minor surgery and went into hospital about the 1st of March of 1941 resulting in his expected death two weeks later. He was 43 years of age. Gordon was given a full Military Funeral, which was described in detail in the Burlington Gazette.
© Peggy Armstrong
SOURCES: Greenwood Cemetery memorial markers
Central High School Year Books
A Book of Remembrance, by Emerson Lavender