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Record crowd for Remembrance Day ceremony in Clarenville

Numerous wreaths laid for First World War veterans

Luke Ivany of Petley, Random Island, was remembered today at the Nov. 11 ceremony in Clarenville.
Members of his family placed wreaths to honour the First World War naval veteran who survived the war — including the Halifax Harbour explosion on Dec. 6, 1917, that killed nearly 2,000.

Many First World War veterans were on the minds of people today around the world as they remembered the 100th anniversary of the armistice.

Jackie Vokey, president of Branch 27 of the Royal Canadian Legion, says this year saw 59 wreaths laid, a record for local Remembrance Day ceremonies.

While large crowds have been coming out to this ceremony in Clarenville for the past several years, Vokey says this year’s turnout was simply “phenomenal.
“I’m sure this is the biggest crowd we’ve ever had,” she said, adding she is certain the sacrifices of veterans will never be forgotten.

Vokey has attended many Remembrance Day ceremonies over the years; beginning in her teens when she was a member of the local Air Cadet squadron.

“At one time I used to worry that, as the older Legionnaires were gone, who would make sure the veterans were remembered.”

Glancing back towards the cenotaph, to see the crowds lined up to pin their poppies to the cross, Vokey told The Packet, “I don’t worry about that now with crowds like this.”

Many of the wreaths laid in Clarenville today were in honour of family members who had served.

And it’s not just older people who are participating.

Among the people who placed wreaths were teenagers and younger children, participating to honour family members they had never met.

Among them were Spencer and Rachael Dean of North West Brook.

Every year their grandfather, Simeon Dean, faithfully placed a wreath in memory of his brother, Arthur, who was a gunner in the Second World War.

Before Simeon died he made his family promise that the tradition would continue; and they have been faithful to that promise ever since.

Glenn Ayles and his family don’t have a direct family connection to war veterans. But he has friends who have served in the military and he was an Army cadet in his teens.

Ayles, and his wife Stephanie brought their four-year-old daughters Kendra and Katie to the ceremony, something they have been doing since they were babies.

He says they feel it’s important to do that to help their children understand what Nov. 11 means, and “to teach them what others did years ago so they could enjoy freedom today.

“It’s important for us to honour the veterans, and keep their memories alive.”

Among the First World War veterans remembered today were brothers Pte. George Wiseman and Pte. Herbert Wiseman, both members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

George was 19 years old when he enlisted on May 26, 1916. He was injured in a gas attack and was medically discharged Aug. 17, 1918.

One month later his brother became a casualty of war.

Herbert was a Lewis Gunner, operating a heavy artillery machine gun on the front lines.

He was killed at Ypres, Belgium, Sept. 29, 1918, when his platoon came under attack.

In a letter to Hebert’s mother, his friend W.J. Woolfrey described Herbert’s last moments.

They had been under heavy fire from the Germans and were attempting to pull back to safety when Hebert was shot.

Woolfrey was able to give Herbert a cold drink and arrange him in a comfortable position, despite the fact they were under machine gun fire and Woolfrey was also a target. Woolfrey attempted to nurse Herbert’s wound but it was no use.

Woolfrey recalled in his letter to Hebert‘s mother that Herbert “lay quietly as if he was drifting in and out of sleep.”

Woolfrey said, ‘Wiseman my dear boy, cheer up. You’ll be home soon.’

Herbert‘s last words before he died were, “Yes corporal; goodbye.”

For those and the many others who never made it home, the ceremony today at Clarenville was solid proof, “We will remember them.”

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