By Nancy Maitland, Wellesley Township Heritage and Historical Society
Every year at this time, we pause to remember the soldiers who fought and died to keep us free. Every soldier - men and women - came from families who never forgot them. Neither should we.
In World War I, 82 men from Wellesley Township enlisted. WWII enlistments roughly doubled with 160 volunteers. These men and women have been memorialized by Clayton Ash in his 2013 self-published book, “The War Years of Wellesley, Woolwich and Elmira.” Mr. Ash has also researched a short biography of each of the soldiers where possible.
The book also outlines the history of the Wellesley Cenotaph. In August 1947, the newly formed Linwood Legion wanted to erect a cenotaph in Linwood Park to commemorate the Linwood-area soldiers who lost their lives in both world wars. A few months later, they met with the local branch of the Women’s Institute, and each group agreed to pay half the cost of the memorial. In February 1948, a memorial stone was purchased for $285.
The seven names of the Linwood-area men who had “paid the supreme sacrifice” in both world wars were inscribed on the stone, which was dedicated on August 15, 1948.
In early 2000 it was noted that some of the men originally on the stone were not all from the Linwood area. It was decided to include the names of all the deceased soldiers from Wellesley Township. Eight names were added, and the stone was re-named the Wellesley Cenotaph. In 2004, the new Linwood Community Centre was built, and the cenotaph was moved there. It can be seen at 5279 Ament Line, Linwood, N0B 2A0.
Here are the names of the Wellesley Township soldiers who died in the two world wars.
World War I 1914-1918
A. M. Crookshanks
J. M. Gates
E. C. Lavery
World War II 1939-1945
R. D. Hayes
W. N. MacPherson
W. J. Musser
J. M. Sherrer
Many soldiers were fortunate to return home. A recent project undertaken by the staff in the Grace Schmidt Room of Local History at Kitchener Public Library is the digitisation and indexing of the Soldier Information Cards in their collection.
According to the site, The cards were created during and shortly after each war, using newspaper and magazine clippings, photographs, and information contributed by returning soldiers and their families.”
The scanned images, sorted by WWI and WWI are available online at https://www.kpl.org/localhistory/soldiercards . The cards are a goldmine of information for families wanting to remember their soldiers, as well as genealogists and family historians.
A rough count of the holdings lists 91 Wellesley cards from WWI and 109 cards from WWII. For Wilmot Township, there are about 151 cards from WWI and 501 from WW II.