Wednesday, June 18, 2008

To Honor Those GPKer's


As Normand revealed yesterday I returned from Europe after a trip that had three goals: The first was to trace the route of my father-in-law during WW2, the second was to visit the battlefields of WW1 with some friends, so they could see the places their grandfathers fought in WW1, and the third was to fulfill the wish of the Slaney family of the Park which was to have some Park soil sprinkled on Reginald Slaney's grave in France.

I thought that since I'd be looking for Reginald Slaney's grave I might as well look for others that might be along our route, so the first place I went before leaving was the cenotaph on Churchill Blvd. I copied all the names of Park service men who paid the supreme sacrifice in both world wars then looked on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website to see where they were buried. I was able to find all but three of them, whose names were so common it was difficult to know whether I had the right one.

This site gave me the cemetery with plot number if their bodies were found, and monuments where their names are listed if their bodies were never found. Three or four of these are listed on the Vimy Memorial.Next I took a spoon and a small pill container to the lot where the Slaney's lived on Greenfield Ave. The lot is now empty because the house they lived in was destroyed by fire about three years ago.

I only wanted to take a small amount of soil because I didn't know if I'd be able to get it into France. Since I had no desire to damage French crops I decided to put the soil in the microwave to kill any living organisms. But while debating how to cook the dirt and how long to leave it in, I forgot about the cap and left it on.

Let me warn anyone who has a desire to cook some soil. Don't leave the cap on, especially if you add a few drops of water first. I did a primary heating of 30 seconds but at 26 seconds the pressure exploded the lid off the container and coated every inch of the interior of the microwave with mud. My wife was not pleased.

After cleaning up the mess I returned to the Slaney property in the dark and dug out more soil to fill the pill container. This time I left the lid off and cooked the soil four times of 12 seconds each, letting it cool after each heating. I now had the soil and just hoped it wouldn't be taken from me a customs. It wasn't and it made in into France.

On July the 7th I sprinkled some on Reginald Slaney's grave and saved a little to put on two other Parker's graves in the Beny Sur Mer Cemetery in Reviers France. I am enclosing a photo of me doing it. Tomorrow I'll send photos of all the other Parkers' graves that I was able to find. I found nine or ten in all.

I was a very moving experience to visit the huge cemeteries of WW1and WW2, the monument at Vimy Ridge as well as 20 others we passed in the Somme and near Paschendale in Belgium. We can be very proud of Canadian soldiers and those from Greenfield Park who answered the call in both World Wars.

John Riley

Marty I made the file a bigger one than normal because people may have to enlarge it to read Reginald Slaney's information on the tombstone.

Thanks John
What a great thing to do..

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