A very interesting piece, especially for me as my great uncle Eddie was killed on 9th April 1917 and is buried at Vimy.
Grave marker belonging to First World War soldier may be one of a kind
SUSSEX * A 100-year-old wooden grave marker belonging to fallen Hammondvale soldier, John Firman Ashe may be the only one of its kind.
The wooden cross from Vimy Ridge had been sitting in Jim Landry's garage rafters for 10 years. Ashe was his great-uncle.
"I knew it was important when I put it up in the rafters so the only time I touched it was when I took it down," he says. "I understood it had a lot of significance but I didn't know what that significance was."
When Landry told local historian Harold Wright about his heirloom, Wright said it was not possible.
"He said there was no such thing as a cross from Vimy Ridge and that is was probably something else," Landry says. "He told me there are none in existence."
Up until a few weeks ago, there were no known grave markers from the battle. Landry's might be the only one to have survived.
"Harold said in his own experience in 40 years of research this is the most significant thing he has ever seen," Landry says.
The grave marker has been promised to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa and will be turned over before the battle's 100th anniversary next April. It will be front and centre at the Vimy memorial, according to Landry.
"It has a lot of significance to the ancestors of Canadian soldiers," Landry says. "They are the ones who should be seeing it."
Ashe, the fallen soldier, grew up on a farm outside of Hammondvale. At age 25 he enlisted with a neighbour and fought as part of the 26th Battalion.
"It was likely his first trip out of Kings County," says Landry.
Ashe was severely injured on the front lines at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He was transported to a field hospital where he died of his wounds.
Landry's 91-year-old aunt, Pauline DeBow says she saw the marker as a young girl.
"I remember my grandmother showing me the cross when I was just little," she says. "She had the cross and papers and all of his cards in a trunk. Every once in awhile she would open it to show me."
Ashe was the first child of DeBow's grandmother.
"She never talked too much about it," she says. "I think she really seemed to be sad about it."
On June 17 Landry will be going to visit his great-uncle's grave outside of Estrée-Cauchy, France.
His trip was planned before discovering the importance of the heirloom. Learning more has changed how he feels about going.
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