Last year, I was in the UK on Remembrance day. I wrote a blog post from there and used a picture I had taken at the war memorial in Galashiels, Scotland. I made the arty choice of using the “black and white” filter.
In doing so, I completely missed a poignant detail. On the right hand side,
a single poppy….
I’d never actually seen that before on a role of honour. The names in that column are sons of Galashiels who emigrated to Canada. They joined up with Canadian units during the war.
It’s hard to tell from the placement of the poppy which name it’s been placed there to remember. It also would have taken effort to get it on the plaque-more than just standing on tippy toe.
It could be for either of three names, Clark, Cossar or Cunningham
George B. Clark was born in Dumfires. His father, Adam Clark, was from Galashiels. Clark came out to Canada to homestead. He farmed near Marengo (NE36-29-28-W3), Saskatchewan, between Kindersley and the Alberta border. He was single and joined up in Saskatoon on December 23, 1914. He served as private with a regiment of the Canadian Rifles. He died at Sanctuary Wood on the 6th of June 1916 when the Germans overran Canadian positions on the crest of Hill 62, overlooking Ypres. His inclusion with the 55,000 names on the Menin Gate in Ypres suggests that his remains were never found.
Benjamin Cossar was born September 23, 1890 in Galashiels to Alexander and Agnes Cossar. He emigrated to Canada at the age of 22. He settled in Toronto where he earned his living as a motor cycle mechanic. He joined in May, 1915, serving with the 3rd Battalion ( Central Ontario Regiment) of the Canadian Infantry. Like Clark , he died in the Ypres salient, at Passchendaele on 6 November, 1917. Like Clark, his only memorial is on the Menin Gate as he was missing and assumed killed in action.
Robert F. Cunningham was 26 when he died of his wounds on September 26, 1916. He had enlisted a mere 6 months before. He served with the 5th Battalion of the Canadian infantry and died during the Somme offensive. He was survived by his wife, Eva Cunningham.
Which relative of one of these three young men, still feels compelled 100 years after the fact, to place a poppy on that memorial?
This year I will remember the names of these three to honour the millions and millions upon millions who died or were wounded in this, the most senseless of our wars.