Culture, Thank You

Now Where Did He Go?

I just received an inquiry about my health. I have not posted since April, (Birthday Buzz) and one of my readers suggested that I was not well.

Not so! Never been fitter!

The truth is, I last posted in April, shortly after our COVID attack, and then was busy finishing up the final pages of my third book, Norfolk Chronicles. It was published in May, and I am happy to report that it has sold out. I am waiting for my second bulk delivery to arrive on our doorstep soon.

Since then, I volunteered to help supply content for a very special website, NorfolkRemembers.Ca. The site is dedicated to memorializing the great expense of the many sons and daughters who fought for peace and freedom in World War 1, The Great War, and World War 2.

Norfolk County, scenically and prominently, takes its place on the north shore of Lake Erie, in Ontario. Between 1939-1945 the farms and towns of Norfolk gave up 153 soldiers, sailors and airmen and women who never came home to their families nearly 80 years ago. Today, their names may appear on a brass plaque in a park somewhere that we might pass by on our way to the variety store or the coffee shop.

RCAF Pilot Officer Donald George McLeod, age 21.

The website is fascinating and inspiring. It has numerous exhibits of stories, letters, photography and events. Our current effort is to research and write a more comprehensive story for each our fallen heroes. These stories speak to their youth, their families, plans, hobbies and loves, and how they lined up to enlist. The narratives will also reveal their final hours and how they were remembered some 75 years ago.

The statistics on the 153 are eye-opening and gut-wrenching, but cutting to the chase, the youngest I have encountered so far was 19, and the oldest was just over 33 years of age. Imagine the loss. Had they returned home, they may have been our parents, grand parents or great grandparents.

So, for the time being, I am pursuing the job given me with a group of others. I may not be posting much until done.

Be safe, and get on with the things you like to do.

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9 thoughts on “Now Where Did He Go?

  1. Brian Mawhiney says:

    Hi Phil. I think you told me you were working with Grant. Don’t know if I told you that two of my great uncles on my Grandmother Gladys Mawhiney’s side are listed in Grant’s book Norfolk Remembers. If you have a copy you might want to look them up. Page 12 and page 99. They were Gordon Donald and John Harold. My dad was named William Donald and his brother was Robert Gordon. My grandmother’s sister Erie named her son Donald Harold .

    Brian

    >

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    • Hi Brian! I do not have the book, but I will certainly check the website. We have amassed a good 150 pages of personal profiles so far, and continue to plug away. Thanks for the details! And also thanks for including me in your frequent email releases. They are funny.

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      • Janice Forzano says:

        Hi, that was a quick response. I keep thinking I should retire, but can’t quite bring myself to do so. I’ll be 74 next week. the paycheck is nice and working from home all these years make the decision to continue on pretty easy.
        Anyway, glad you are well.
        Best, Jan

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  2. Doug Fitzgerald says:

    Dr. Brown –

    Your work for the Remembers project is really terrific.

    Here’s a tale that touches on our Alma Mater.

    When we were at RR Donnelley a call found its way to me from a retired US Air Force general who was writing a book about the RAF Eagle Squadron, which was made up of US citizens who went to Canada, enlisted in the RCAF, and then went on to fight in Britain or other theaters. He said, “There iwas a pilot named Norman Richard Chap I can’t find much about, but I learned that he worked for RR Donnelley from 1937-1939. Can you help?”

    Knowing that personnel records from those years were long gone I wasn’t optimistic. But we did have bound copies of company newsletters dating back to that era — and even before. A search through the company library brought to light a story, a photograph of Chap, and the text of a letter his pilot officer had sent to his family about his final sortie.

    Chap was shot down in November of 1942 over North Africa. He was posthumously promoted to pilot officer.

    The preserved company newsletters helped his story be told. I’ve collected RR Donnelley newsletters (some of which seem to have been owned by a formed RRD CEO named Charles Lake … once listed in the Tribune as Chicago’s highest paid CEO; employees got and wore buttons that said, “Make A Buck For Chuck”.)

    A couple of the volumes are from 1918 and 1919. They include many letters home to the company from overseas and they offer very candid stories about the employees’ wartime experiences.They give me pause whenever I hear football announcers say, “This game will be won in the trenches.”

    It’s always worth recalling with gratitude what others sacrificed. Thanks again for what you are doing.

    Best,

    Doug Fitzgerald

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    • Hi Doug!
      Where would we be without these kids so long ago? And where would we be if there weren’t people like you acquiring and curating these arcane, stale corporate memoranda to be mined half a century later to recount the story? The gold is on every page when the right cause is being served! Thanks for sharing!

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