Service held at Pennfield Ridge war memorial

Service held at Pennfield Ridge war memorial
by Barb Rayner/ Transcribed by G. Christian Larsen

PENNFIELD - A memorial service for those who served and/or worked at the two military bases in the area during the Second World War was held Sunday at the Pennfield Ridge war memorial.

    More than 100 people attended the service, which has hosted by the Pennfield Parish Military Historical Society, to remember those who served at the Pennfield Ridge Air Station and A-30 Canadian Infantry Training Camp1 (Camp Utopia).

   The service was dedicated to the veterans who have died since last year's service - Elmer Bulman (RCAF), John Crammond (RCAF), Nevin Filby (RAAF), John Norton (RCAF), Cyrille Poissant (RCAF), Arthur Stainforth (RAFVR), John Spear (RCA), Herbert Swazey (RCA), Clifton Thorne (RCA) and Clifford Warner (RCA) and all the others who lost their lives.2

    Master of ceremonies was Lt. Bernard Cormier, the invocation was read by Rev. Grant Alcorn and Cpl. Colin Fleiger read the additional names to add to the roll of honour.

Cpl. Colin Fleiger reads the additional names to be added to the roll of honour during Sunday's service held at the Pennfield Ridge war memorial.

        The memorial was dedicated Sept 24, 2006 and a service has been held there each September since. Among those in attendance were George Richardson and Jessie Nason who served at the Pennfield air station, and Fleiger and Alfred Barker who served at Camp Utopia

    Air crews from Canada, Britain, New Zealand and Australia trained at Pennfield as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and 69 airmen, one British seaman (a passenger on board a Ventura aircraft which crashed) and six civilian workers died during the history of the base.3

    Following the service there was a reception held at the Legion hall in St. George where Blacks Harbour Mayor Terry James brought greetings from the village.

    Lt. General Louis Cuppens (Ret.) said he was born in the Netherlands during the Second World War and people there will never forget what the Canadians and the Allies did for them.

    "Canada stands out in their minds as the country that gave them back their freedom," he said but the cost was more than 7,000 lives and about 3,000 of them are interred just outside Nijmegen where he was born.

    He said there are no weeds in this cemetery and the stones are erect and clean. School children, said Cuppens, are given custody of a Canadian grave and they maintain it for three years - washing the stone, trimming the edges and bringing flowers.

    "The children over there cannot help but remember what was accomplished in the many wars that have taken place there. They have to walk by these cemeteries. They know what wars are all about."

    "It is our job to make sure the next generation after this continues to understand the great sacrifices the Allies have made so that people can live free."

    He spoke about the war in Afghanistan which has been going on now for 10 years with more than 150 Canadian casualties and those who have been injured numbering in the thousands.

    Cuppens said the people there have so little it reminded him of post-war Europe but much rebuilding has taken place, hospitals have opened, girls are now allowed to go to school and they are taught by female teachers. The Taliban, he said, have almost been driven out of the country but they have found a safe haven in Pakistan.

    "We Canadians have so much and they have so little. I urge all of you - pass the torch, pass the message of remembrance on."4

SOURCE: The Saint Croix Courier (St. Stephen, NB) - September 28, 2010.

Transcriber's Notes:

1 It should read "A-30 Canadian Infantry Training Centre (Camp Utopia)"

2 This is the original list that appeared in the newspaper story "Pennfield Ridge War Memorial Service Planned For September 26th". In the program hand-out the listing appeared as follows: "This year's service is dedicated to the following veterans we have lost this year, namely Elmer Bulman, MiD (RCAF), John (Jack) Crammond (RCAF), Nevin Filby (RAAF), Raymond A (Ray) Kelly (RAAF), John (Jack) Norton (RCAF), Cyrille (Cy) Poissant (RCAF), S.W. (Sam) Shapton, Arthur Stainforth (RAFVR), John Spear (RCA), Herbert Swazey (RCA), Clifton Thorne (RCA) and Clifford Warner (RCA) and all the others who have put their lives on the line to keep our country free." This listing was also read aloud during the service by Lt. Bernard J. Cormier.

3 Assault troops trained at nearby Camp Utopia that, at the time, was one of the best-equipped and most effective Army training centers in all of Canada. This was borne out by the gallant actions of the Carleton & York Regiment in Sicily and Italy and the North Shore Battalion and N.B. Rangers in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, all of whom were principally made up of personnel receiving their advanced training at Utopia. The base official closed 30 April 1946, but continued to operate mainly as a summer camp until 1956. Six army personnel died at the base between 1943 and 1952. Three additional names were read into the "Roll of Honour" at this year’s service.

4Two additional guest speakers were: Capt. Kevin Anderson, Director of New Brunswick Military History Museum and Harold E. Wright, Saint John noted historian.

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