Periodically, we will continue to update our site visitors with the progress of our Study and let you know what other events will be happening along the way. As originally planned, The Far From Home project is still on schedule and will be completed over the next eighteen months.
Our original challenge was to visit 3885 Canadian casualties in 836 locations when we launched the ‘Far From Home’ project in 2007. Over the intervening ten years, the number of casualties has steadily risen to 3899 and the number of locations has escalated to 870.
By the beginning of 2018, we had visited 3865 of the 3899 casualties and will have travelled to the final 34 casualties in 33 different locations across Great Britain before the end of next year.
So far this year...
We have undertaken two road trips which necessitated our staying overnight in modest motel accommodation. For this reason, we remain open for sponsorship towards the costs of our forthcoming travels. A planned third road trip is scheduled for September 2018 to the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and the north of England.
Road trip one – Essex in February:
We revisited St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cemetery at Leytonstone, Essex. Pte James Thomas Beckett died of colon cancer on the 15 June 1919 but his burial place was never recorded by the Canadian military. The CWGC placed his name on the Brookwood 1914-1918 Memorial Wall where it remained until we found his burial place at this cemetery.
On an earlier visit to Leytonstone, we were able to determine the original burial place and took photographs. Sadly, the exact place of interment was in an unmarked public grave section which has since been reused. However, the Cemetery maintains a special plot for war graves and a new headstone for Pte Beckett was installed a few months ago by the CWGC some 99 years after his death. It bears the inscription “Buried elsewhere in this cemetery”. May he rest in peace.
Road trip two – Channel Islands in April:
Leaving home on Sunday 15th April, we made our way to Poole in Dorset to stay overnight, ready to catch the ferry across to Jersey the following day. We arrived at Jersey to enjoy our first ever visit to the Channel Islands.
Making our way to Almorah Cemetery in St Helier, we greeted Sgt John Adolphus Heresey. Although he has a CWGC footstone, the large family headstone also recorded his name. Prior research had discovered that his correct surname was Le Hérissier originally, which had obviously been Anglicised, probably for ease of pronunciation at his attestation. Whilst at the grave, we were joined by a person who is a member of the Le Hérissier family (now written as Lehérissier) and visits the cemetery from time to time to check on the condition of the grave. It was quite amazing that he had chosen both that day and time to appear, allowing us to chat about the family connection and exchange contact details.
Our second Canadian was also to be found buried in St Helier, this time in the New Mont-A-L’ Abbe Cemetery. Bombardier Bernard Larbalestier died on the 2 December 1916 and lies in a family grave. A large headstone carries his name, but the inscription on the footstone states that it was “Erected by the Canadian Government”.
Our third Jersey soldier was laid to rest in St Mary’s Church in the parish of St Mary, approximately five miles from St Hellier. Pte Philip Cornu’s grave is marked with a CWGC headstone.
All three of these men had been born and raised on the Island.
Whilst on Jersey and having paid our respects to the Canadian casualties, we were able to spend some time as ‘tourists’ with a visit to the Underground War Tunnels from WW2. Built by the German occupiers using slave labour from many countries, it was very sobering walking the tunnels that had been constructed by the slave workers who worked long hours in brutal and dangerous conditions.
Jersey Zoo provided a much lighter outing. We spent two enjoyable visits wandering around the Durrell park and enjoyed the glorious weather. The real highlight of those days was when the large Silverback Gorilla named Badongo deigned to sit on the other side of the viewing window, barely two feet away from us, placidly staring through the glass.
Midweek, we took the ferry across to Guernsey where we planned to spend two nights. The only Canadian casualty to be visited had also only previously been recorded on the Brookwood Wall. Having spent over three years trying to track this man’s burial place it was very satisfying when we discovered he was in an unmarked grave at Candie Cemetery, St Peter Port. The CWGC subsequently marked the grave with a modest plaque, now photographed and recorded.
With our time in Guernsey very limited, we chose to take a public bus service for a tour around the Island costing just £1 per person. From that journey, we were able to enjoy many of the sights and sounds of this small Island.
We returned to Poole by ferry where we spent a further night as it was late in the day. Whilst in Dorset, we decided to visit Monkey World in Wareham, again, another very enjoyable time seeing the animals and learning more about them from the staff.
Proposed road trip three – September
It is hoped that we will be able to undertake a trip to the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and the north of England this year. With three casualties to visit on the Isle of Man, one each in Douglas, Kirk Malew and Kirk Marown, it will also allow us to revisit a few ‘stragglers’ along the way. However, IF we are able to locate the burial place for yet another of the Brookwood Wall casualties, we will hopefully find ourselves in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Pte Samuel McNeice died at Tulleygarley, Ballymena, but his interment location was never registered with the Canadian Military. We have been searching for this man’s last resting place for over six years so we hope that we will finally be able to place him somewhere close to where he died before we make our plans to travel in the autumn.
If we are successful in finding Pte McNeice, then that will leave just one casualty out of the 3899 for whom we may never be able find a grave. His name was Pte John Smith and owing to misleading information given at Attestation and on leaving the military, we have followed many dead end leads. A special hand search by the General Record Office for a death certificate for a John Smith who died on 23 September 1920 has also drawn a blank. Following extensive research over several years, our most logical theory is that he possibly gave a false name at Attestation, along with other untrue ‘facts’ regarding his parents’ names and address. He also stated he would reside with his sister (Mrs Brown) at Sibton, Suffolk after being discharged from the army. In spite of enlisting help from local people who live in the area, no facts given by Pte Smith have been substantiated. He died just 14 months after discharge.
As we are a not-for-profit project, we self-finance all our road trips. If you would like to contribute to our Centennial Memorial Project, please click here. All sponsorship will be acknowledged on this site and highlighted in any future hard copy reports or seminar papers produced by us. Your support will be hugely appreciated.
Our article about the twenty-five Great War Canadians who were ‘Shot At Dawn’ has been completed and is now uploaded onto our Published Articles page.
Currently, we are able supply an individual DVD for any one of the 3899 Canadian service men and women who are commemorated in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. In addition, our website can also supply an individual DVD by location or county. Please refer to Our Catalogue for full details.
Diana & Adrian