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Remembering their names

Aldergrove Legion prepares memorial plaque for cenotaphs

At 33, Eugene Allard and Stephen Emptage, both from Fort Langley are the oldest on a list of local soldiers who died in the First World War.

Most were a lot younger, according to Vivian Lillico, who has spent most of the past year researching the names of the fallen so their names could be added to the cenotaph in front of the Royal Canadian Legion Aldergrove branch at at 26607 Fraser Hwy. Some were as young as 18.

“Very young, all young farm boys who went over for excitement,” Lillico commented.

“They wanted to serve their country.”

On Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, a bronze plaque bearing the names of the 59 First World War dead and 61 Second World War dead will be formally unveiled at the branch.

Next year, an identical plaque will be attached to the cenotaph at Douglas Park in Langley City, delayed to allow time to sandblast the memorial, Lillico said.

The work, she explained, has been funded by a federal government grant to spruce up war memorials.

ww2 by John Dan Ferguson on Scribd

Part of the branch cenotaph committee, along with branch second vice president Owen Burdett and sports chairman Jack Michael Nicholls, Lillico’s search for names took her to archives in Ottawa, graveyards in Murrayville and Fort Langley, and to Langley historian and author Warren Sommer, who wrote “Canucks in Khaki: Langley, the Lower Mainland, and the Great War of 1914 to 1918.”

ww1 by John Dan Ferguson on Scribd

The stories she found struck a chord with Lillico, a retired Master Cpl. and 20-year veteran, currently sgt-at-arms for the ladies auxiliary, who said she signed up for much the same reasons many of the young farm boys did.

“They went over for excitement, just like me,” Lillico said.

“I was out of Courtney, on the farm, and I wanted some excitement.”

Like the three Kimmel brothers from Milner, Richard, Clifford and Gordon, who all went over during the Second World War, and all died.

When their mother Sylvia went to Ottawa to get the Silver Cross in their honour, she went into a store to get a coat, Lillico recounted.

“It was very cold when they got to Ottawa, so they went to this company to get a coat [and when the staff learned] she was there because she had lost her three boys, the head of the store came and said ‘you can buy any coat here in the store and it’s for free, on us.’”

A few years ago, her mother confided to Lillico that her grandfather Roland had been a stretcher bearer at Vimy Ridge.

“I’ve got his enlistment [record] on the eighth of April, 1916, and one year later, on the 9th of April, 1917, was the first day of the Vimy Ridge war. The largest casualties in the whole of Canadian history was the first day of the Vimy Ridge War. Canadians lost 2,500 soldiers.”

She said the branch is hoping families and friends of the fallen soldiers will get in touch with the branch between now and Nov. 11.

“We want to ask any friends or family who know or have any more information on our war dead, because some of them I literally have no information on, just their initials [from] the cenotaphs in Murrayville and Fort Langley.”

Families can contact the branch through their Facebook page,

“If they wish to attend November 11th and the dedication ceremony, we will reserve a V.I.P. seat for them because we’ll honor them because they’re family of our fallen comrades,” Lillico said.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Royal Canadian Legion Aldergrove branch celebrates 60th anniversary

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Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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