11 November 2014

The Funeral by Dave Adey

Originally left as a comment on the post about Remembrance Day,  Dave sent this along as an attachment to an e-mail because it was too long for a comment.

Here it is, as sent, unedited.

Last night I got the urge to look up a couple of my relatives who were killed in World War 1. I've always been interested in genealogy so I had a small amount of info, including a couple of pics on one but very little on the other. One of them was my father's brother and the other was my grandfather's brother on my mother's side.

I guess right off some of you must think I'm 80 odd years old myself. Nope, I managed to defy the normal generations of time...lol, not my doing, my old man was 60 and my mother was 40 when I was born. In fact, I only had one grandparent born in the 20th century.

Anyway, I knew a little bit about my Uncle Alonzo Adey or (Eddy) as the name he signed up with. We all found that strange and one of my brother's said he was too young so he used a false name. Years later I dismissed that as I knew when he was born but last night I discovered the real reason why. I found a pdf online that contained some of his documents from when he was enlisted to when he had died.

He had signed his name "Eddy" yup, a real signature. Why I thought? Then right before my eyes I saw another document where my Grandfather had also signed his name that way as well. I knew they weren't ignorant people contrary to what many believe about our ancestors back then, even though many had little schooling, they did learn to read and write. I knew that all official records had used the spelling "Adey" so my grandfather should have known the difference, especially when a census taker had spelled his, my grandmother and their children’s names as "Adey" I also knew that census takers sometimes bastardized names...I have seen a couple of docs from the early 1800's where the spelling "Eddy" was used on occasion. Anyway, solve one mystery and discover a new one.

My uncle Alonzo joined the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in 1916, got some training, was shipped over seas and on April 14, 1917 at Monchy-le-Preux, during the Battle of Arras; he was killed. Not only killed but nothing was found of him. A month later a rather crudely worded message which is not identifiable was addressed to his father saying merely that his son was missing.

Uncle Alonzo had given authorization to the pay office to deduct 60 cents per pay to be set aside for his benefactor, my grandfather. The sum that was paid out after his death was $18.80. Was it a lot of money for him? Who knows but I do know he had to go to the trouble of requesting and providing proof of who he was to get it.

In August 1921 my grandfather received the Victory Medal for his son, Alonzo Adey (Eddy) who had participated and died in the Great War.

I was going to write about my great Uncle William Luther Marsh who had served and died in Europe as well but I don't want to bore anyone. The story is about the same as my uncle Alonzo's...died at a different time in a different place. He was born and lived at Deer Harbour, Random Island...a resettled community. They likely never knew one another and served at different times. He had left his father the tidy sum of $19.72. The only similarities are their ages, the length of their service, their height and their weight. Both were short at 5' 6" and weighed 120 lbs. Maybe someday I'll honor my Great Uncle much better than this short paragraph.

Before I go, I have to say that there were many in my family who have served in peace and war. I can't go before World War 1 as I'm not sure if anyone served in army, navy or war. Perhaps and likely there have been but I have no names to inspire me to search deeper into time and history.

In World War 1 I had 2 uncles serve, one was killed and one was wounded. One great uncle who was killed. One Cousin who was wounded and in POW camp for a year until end of the war. A Cousin who was with the Overseas Forestry Unit in Scotland. And my Grandfather Marsh who served in the Royal Navy Reserve; he told me that he made 16 cents a hour. He lived until he was 97 and attended every Remembrance Day parade in Clarenville at least up into his late 80's, I left home mi 80's so I'm not sure after that. I do know he never said he was going to a parade or anything like that...he called it "The Funeral".

I had one Aunt who married a Nfld soldier of World War 2 and another Aunt who married an American serviceman probably in St. john's during World War 2...they had sons who also served in the American military. Those 2 Aunts also had a brother (my uncle) who served in the CAF...I have to check on something because one of my brother's told me he was the only Sargent Major in the CAF, he's also the same one who told me my Uncle Alonzo used a false name because of his age.

Of my 3 brothers in my family, 2 of them served in the CAF...our other brother had the mumps or measles when he was young and he had bad eyesight, if not for that he probably would have signed up as well.

In 1984, a few days after my mother died I went into the Recruitment Center on Water Street...less than a month later I was in Nova Scotia doing basic training. The day before I left Clarenville I went around to visit my family; I went to visit my Uncle Fred who was the last of my Father's siblings to be alive. He was well into his 70's and many years before he had suffered some very powerful strokes that left him very helpless. I remember going into his house and he was sitting at the table crying, I asked my Aunt what was wrong and she said that he was afraid I was going off to war. As I reflect back now the helpless old man I held in my arms who cried for me was a little boy when his older brother went off to war and he never did see him return. I feel sad because he never saw me return either, he died some months later.