The telegram no family wanted to receive

Mac's Musings—Claude McIntosh
The telegram no family wanted to receive

It was November 1943 and spirits in a war-weary world were cautiously being lifted by news that the Nazi hoard in Europe was on the run and the savage Japanese war machine was being turned back in the Pacific.

There were sacrifices on the home front in Cornwall and district, but nothing compared to the sacrifices being made by Cornwall and district men in uniform, some too young to buy a beer back home.

In most cases, the grim news arrived in the hand-delivered ‘dreaded’ telegram from the war department.

By the end of 1943, 64 Cornwall and district men – 42 from Cornwall (pop, 14,000) – had been killed in action. Many more would die in the months after the D-Day invasion

A snapshot of the war news carried on the pages of the Standard-Freeholder in November 1943:

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph McDonald, St. Andrews West, were notified that their son Sgt. Andrew McDonald was presumed dead. He was listed as missing when his plane was shot down on May 19. … Mr. and Mrs. Alphonse Latour, 24 1/2 Baldwin Ave., were notified that their son Sgt. Leo Latour, an air gunner, had been killed during air operations. …Cornwall’s largest employer, Canadian Cottons, had 272 men and female employees in uniform. In all, more than 800 men and women set aside their jobs in local industries to serve their country. All were guaranteed their jobs. … Before it joined the war effort, the Canadian Army had 4,500 soldiers. By 1943, the number stood at 460,000, making it one of the largest Allied armies. …. Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Fawthrop received word that their son, Sgt. Douglas Fawthrop of the Royal Canadian Navy, had arrived overseas. … Sgt. Perrin Magwood of Cornwall was a prisoner of war in Germany. His bomber had been shot down. … Pte. Clayton MacPherson, listed as missing after the British Hong Kong garrison was over-run by the Japanese on Dec. 25, 1941, was reported to be a prisoner of war. … A memorial service was held at Salem Church in Summerstown for Pilot Officer Robert Gunn, shot down over Germany. … The family of Pte. Arthur Franklin received word that he had died of wounds suffered in Italy. … Sgt. Gerald Parisien (future mayor of Cornwall) was spending his second year “Somewhere in England”. He was serving with the Royal Canadian Artillery. … Nursing Sister Bernard, daughter of Patrick Purcell, captured by the Japanese, was being allowed by her captors to carry out nursing duties to the poor in Manila. … Mr. and Mrs. Antoine Lalonde, RR 1 Mille Roches, were notified that their son, Pte. David Lalonde, had been killed in action in Italy. Two days earlier they had received his letter saying all was well. … The local Aid-for-Russia fund campaign was at $1,917. … Gunner Earl Ouderkirk, spending his fifth year overseas, was wounded in action in Italy.

Meanwhile, back home – A two-year-old Bedford Street boy, missing from his backyard for two days was found safe and sound in a locked unused bread delivery truck parked near his home. Fearing he had fallen into the nearby canal, police dragged the waterway for two days. … Cornwall Street Railway turned St. Lawrence Park over to Cornwall. The agreement said the five-acre property could only be used as a public park, and if it stopped being a public park the land would be returned to CSR who had purchased the land in 1896. … Cornwall Township gave its hourly-paid employees a five-cent-an-hour increase that raised the hourly rate to 50 cents. … There were 115 teachers and 3,155 pupils in the Stormont public school system. The minimum annual salary was $800 with top paid teachers earning $1,400 a year. Of the 101 female teachers, 19 were in the top pay category. … Tragedy struck a St. Regis family when three brothers, walking along the road near Rooseveltown at night, were struck and killed by a pick-up truck. Angus, David and Benjamin Terrance were killed instantly. … Aaron Horovitz was re-elected mayor of Cornwall. He defeated challenger Dr. Elzear Emard by 470 votes. … A regular sight at Saturday night dances at Pearson’s Hall on Sydney Street were soldiers from the army basic training centre (aka boot camp) set up on Dingwall field behind the armoury. … Two days before Christmas the liquor store on Pitt Street was sold out. … The post office announced that letter carriers would be given New Year’s Day off but the post office lobby would be open 8 a.m. to noon. … The province announced that windshield stickers would replace metal licence plates, at least until the end of the war. … Uptown Restaurant, 401 Montreal Rd., had a 75-cent turkey dinner special. …

HERE AND THERE: My daughter who lives in downtown Toronto, just steps from where athletes are paid millions a year to play a game (hockey, basketball and baseball), tells me the food bank on Queen Street shut down for a day because it ran out of food with dozens of people still in line. Folks who run food banks in Cornwall say the demand has never been greater, and in many cases their clients have jobs. … If an autoworker making $40 an hour is being hurt by inflation and has to strike to keep up, what about the folks struggling in the financial weeds? … Note to Jagmeet Singh, leader of the federal NDP, who has been critical of the government: You own the magic bullet.

TRIVIA: On Nov. 2, 2021 this Canadian made World Series history when the Atlanta Braves defeated Houston Astros to win the Major League title.

TRIVIA ANSWER: While speaking to thousands of Quebecers in Montreal on July 24, 1967, Gen. Charles de Gaulle, president of France, caused a diplomatic furor when he finished with “Vive le Quebec … libre.” This at a time when separatists were attempting to tear Quebec away from Canada. In the wake of condemnation by the Canadian government, de Gaulle cut short his state visit.

QUOTED: “The closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application form.” – Stanley Randall

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