Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Graves Are Walking The Great Famine & the Saga of the Irish People




Deeply researched, compelling in its details, and startling in its conclusions about the appalling decisions behind a tragedy of epic proportions, John Kelly's retelling of the awful story of Ireland's great hunger will resonate today as history that speaks to our own times.

It started in 1845 and before it was over more than one million men, women, and children would die and another two million would flee the country. Measured in terms of mortality, the Great Irish Potato Famine was the worst disaster in the nineteenth century--it claimed twice as many lives as the American Civil War.

A perfect storm of bacterial infection, political greed, and religious intolerance sparked this catastrophe. But even more extraordinary than its scope were its political underpinnings, and The Graves Are Walking provides fresh material and analysis on the role that Britain's nation-building policies played in exacerbating the devastation by attempting to use the famine to reshape Irish society and character. Religious dogma, anti-relief sentiment, and racial and political ideology combined to result in an almost inconceivable disaster of human suffering.

This is ultimately a story of triumph over perceived destiny: for fifty million Americans of Irish heritage, the saga of a broken people fleeing crushing starvation and remaking themselves in a new land is an inspiring story of revival.

Based on extensive research and written with novelistic flair,The Graves Are Walking draws a portrait that is both intimate and panoramic, that captures the drama of individual lives caught up in an unimaginable tragedy, while imparting a new understanding of the famine's causes and consequences.


©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Monday, August 29, 2016

With A Closed Fist–Growing Up In Canada’s Toughest Neighborhood




Offering a glimpse into the culture of extreme poverty, this memoir is an insider’s view into a neighborhood then described as the toughest in Canada.

Point St. Charles is an industrial slum in Montreal which is now in the process of gentrification, but during Kathy Dobson’s childhood, people moved for one of two reasons: their apartment was on fire or the rent was due.

When student social workers and medical students from McGill University invaded the Point in the 1970s, Kathy and her five sisters witnessed their mother transform from a defeated welfare recipient to an angry, confrontational community organizer who joined in the fight against a city that turned a blind eye on some of its most vulnerable citizens. When her mother won the right for Kathy and her two older sisters to attend schools in one of Montreal’s wealthiest neighborhoods, Kathy was thrown into a foreign world with a completely different set of rules that she didn't know—leading to disastrous results.

This compelling, coming-of-age story documents a time of great social change in Montreal and reveals the workings of an educational system trying to deal with disadvantaged children.


A "gutsy, no-holds-barred, coming-of-age story," 

Kathy Dobson has a B.A. from the University of Waterloo and two certificates in social work. A journalist, her work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, and more.

She has produced several short documentaries for CBC Radio, including one with hockey legend Bobby Orr. She lives in Waterloo, Ontario.


©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

An Irish Heart - How A Small Immigrant Community Shaped Canada


During the Great Famine of the 1840s, thousands of impoverished Irish immigrants, escaping from the potato crop failure, fled to Canada on what came to be known as “fever ships.” As the desperate arrivals landed at Quebec City or nearby Grosse Isle, families were often torn apart. Parents died of typhus and children were put up for adoption, while lucky survivors travelled on to other destinations. Many people made their way up the St. Lawrence to Montreal, where 6,000 more died in appalling conditions.

Despite these terrible beginnings, a thriving Irish settlement called Griffintown was born and endured in Montreal for over a century. The Irish became known for their skill as navvies, building our canals and bridges, working long hours in factories, raising large, close-knit families.

This riveting story captures their strong faith, their dislike of authority, their love of drink, song and a good fight, and their loyalty.

Filled with personal recollections drawn from extensive author interviews, An Irish Heart recreates a community and a culture that has a place of distinction in our history. From D’Arcy McGee and Nellie McClung to the Montreal Shamrocks, Brian Mulroney and beyond, Irish Canadians have made their mark.

Sharon Doyle Driedger, a former senior writer for Maclean’s magazine, was born in Griffintown to a third-generation Irish family. This book grew out of a Maclean’s cover article that had tremendous reader response. Doyle Driedger has won aNational Magazine Award for her writing. She lives in Toronto with her family.

©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Montreal’s Irish Mafia - The True Story of the Infamous West End Gang


Their names resonate with organized crime in Montreal: the Matticks, MacAllisters, Johnstons and Griffins, and Peter Dunie Ryan. They are the Irish equivalent of the infamous Rizzuto and Cotroni families, and the "Mom" Bouchers and Walter Stadnicks of the Hells Angels.

Award-winning producer, journalist and author D’Arcy O’Connor narrates the genesis and rise to power of one of Montreal’s most powerful, violent and colorful criminal organizations. It is the West End Gang, whose members controlled the docks and fought the Hells Angels and Mafia for their share of the city’s prostitution, gambling, loan sharking and drug dealing. At times, they did not disdain forging alliances with rival gangs when huge profits were at stake, or when a killing needed to be carried out.

The West End Gang—the Irish Mafia of Montreal—is a legendary beast. They sprang out of the impoverished southwest of the city, some looking for ways to earn enough just to survive, some wanting more than a job in an abattoir or on a construction site. In that sense, they were no different from other immigrants from Italy and other European countries. A shortcut to wealth was their common goal. And Montreal, with its burgeoning post-WWII population, was ripe for the picking.

The Irish Mob made headlines with a spectacular Brinks robbery in 1976, using the money to broker a major heroin and cocaine trafficking ring. It took over the Port of Montreal, controlling the flow of drugs into the city, drugs which the Mafia funneled to New York. The West End Gang had connections to the cocaine cartel in Colombia; hashish brokers in Morocco and France; and marijuana growers in Mexico. The gang imported drugs on an enormous scale. One bust that took place off the coast of Angola in 2006 involved 22.5 tonnes of hashish, destined for Montreal.

The West End Gang is a ripping tale that unveils yet another chapter in Montreal’s colorful criminal underworld.
©Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Ship Fever



The elegant short fictions gathered hereabout the love of science and the science of love are often set against the backdrop of the nineteenth century. Interweaving historical and fictional characters, they encompass both past and present as they negotiate the complex territory of ambition, failure, achievement, and shattered dreams.

In “Ship Fever,” the title novella, a young Canadian doctor finds himself at the center of one of history’s most tragic epidemics.

In “The English Pupil,” Linnaeus, in old age, watches as the world he organized within his head slowly drifts beyond his reach.

And in “The Littoral Zone,” two marine biologists wonder whether their life-altering affair finally was worth it.

In the tradition of Alice Munro and William Trevor, these exquisitely rendered fictions encompass whole lives in a brief space. As they move between interior and exterior journeys, “science is transformed from hard and known fact into malleable, strange and thrilling fictional material” (Boston Globe).


©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Community & the Human Spirit Oral Histories from Montreal’s Point St. Charles, Griffintown, and Goose Village

A solid contribution to social and urban studies, this fascinating collection of oral histories details the life and times in Canada's 'cradle of industrialization.'

Contributors to this book were all born between the 1920's and 1950's and remember growing up around the east end of the Lachine Canal near the Montreal harbour.

It was a time when ships from far away places still navigated the canal and this historic working-class area hummed with the sounds of factories.

Families were often large and the streets teemed with children. These oral histories follow contributors' lives to the present day.

The book also discusses the redevelopment and evolution of the area. Well-illustrated with archival photos, with bibliography, and an introduction by the author.

I own this book and highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the subject and wants to learn first hand how it was, back in the day.

(c)2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Belding Corticelli Silk Company




Belding Paul Co the first Belding Paul Co., the first silk mill in Canada, set up shop near the Lachine Canal in 1884. It would later merge with Corticelli from Saint Jean-sur-Richelieu. Silk ribbon was made and later, nylon stockings. The workforce was made up mostly of women. After closing in 1982, the factory was converted into condos.

Belding, Paul and Co. merged with Corticelli in 1911. Formerly a silk manufacturing factory, it has been recently renovated into residential space (1989).




Belding Brothers & Company – Silk Manufacturers


©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Griffintown Horse Palace





The Griffintown Horse Palace is a stable in the Griffintown district in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, which dates back to around 1860.

For three decades, the stables were run by former Goose Village resident, iceman and calèche driver Leo Leonard, also known locally as Clawhammer Jack.

Leonard, who was reported to be the last Irish Quebecer left in Griffintown, retired and moved to Nun's Island in 2011. The sale of his land around his Ottawa Street residence has cast the future of the stables in doubt. Montreal landscape architect Juliette Patterson has formed a foundation in an attempt to save the Horse Palace, which has also drawn support from the area's historic Irish community.

Though the stables are considered to have cultural heritage value by the City of Montreal, they are not a protected heritage site by the Province of Quebec.

Patterson and her foundation would like to preserve the Horse Palace as a working stable for caleche horses serving nearby Old Montreal as well as a museum of 19th-century Montreal history. But the foundation has been unable as of December 2011 to raise enough money to purchase Leonard's land and buildings, which are now valued at over $1 million. The horse palace site includes the stables, a vacant 3,500-square foot lot, the Leonards' brick triplex and an aging former auberge, and is being sold in three separate lots.


Horse Palace Video


©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Joe Beef

Charles McKiernan (1835 County Cavan, Ireland – 15 January 1889, Montreal, Canada) was a well-known Irish-Canadian Montreal tavern owner, innkeeper and philanthropist.
Charles McKiernan earned the sobriquet "Joe Beef" from his time as a Quartermaster with the British Army during the Crimean War. It's said that whenever his regiment was running low on food, McKiernan had an almost spooky knack of somehow finding meat and provisions, hence the name "Joe Beef".

The man, who would become famous in Montreal as a gruff philanthropist, came to the city around 1864 with his artillery regiment and he was put in charge of the main military canteen on Saint Helen's Island. Discharged in 1868, he opened "Joe Beef's Tavern," an inn and tavern soon known throughout North America, located at 201–207 rue de la Commune in what is now Old Montreal.
Beef refused service to no one, telling a reporter, "no matter who he is, whether English, French, Irish, Negro, Indian, or what religion he belongs to". Every day at noontime, hundreds of longshoremen, beggars, odd-job men and outcasts from Montréal society showed up at his door. 

The clientele of the tavern was mostly working class. Canal labourers, longshoremen, sailors, and ex-army men like McKiernan himself were mainstays of the business. For working class Montreal, McKiernan's tavern functioned as the centre of social life in Griffintown. At the time, the neighbourhood had no public parks, and gatherings and public celebrations were only occasionally held by national societies and church groups. Thus, daily recreational activities were centered around Joe Beef's Canteen.

An atheist, Beef had the following manifesto printed on handbills and advertisements:
He cares not for Pope, Priest, Parson, or King William of the Boyne; all Joe wants is the Coin. He trusts in God in summer time to keep him from all harm; when he sees the first frost and snow poor old Joe trusts to the Almighty Dollar and good old maple wood to keep his belly warm, for Churches, Chapels, Ranters, Preachers, Beechers and such stuff Montreal has already got enough.
The New York Times was not impressed, however, calling Joe Beef's Canteen "a den of filth" and writing that:
The proprietor is evidently an educated man, and speaks and writes well. But he is a little nearer a devil and his place near what the revised version calls Hades than anything I ever saw.
Beef was known for keeping a menagerie of animals in his tavern, including four black bears, ten monkeys, three wild cats, a porcupine and an alligator. The bears were usually kept in the tavern's cellar and viewed by customers through a trap door in the barroom floor. He sometimes brought a bear up from the basement to restore order in his tavern, to fight with his dogs or play a game of billiards with the proprietor. One of his bears, Tom, had a daily consumption of twenty pints of beer and would sit on his hindquarters and hold a glass between his paws without spilling a drop. On one occasion, McKiernan was mauled by a buffalo on exhibit and was sent to hospital for a number of days. Another time, a Deputy Clerk of the Peace was inspecting the tavern in order to renew the license and was bitten by one of McKiernan's dogs.

He ran his tavern from 1870 until his death from a heart attack in 1889, at the age of 54.
At his funeral, every office in the business district closed. Fifty labour organizations walked off the job while Joe Beef's casket was drawn through the city by an ornate four-horse hearse, in a procession several blocks long. The newspaper La Minerve reported:
The crowd consisted of Knights of Labour, workers and manual labourers of all classes. All the luckless outcasts to whom the innkeeper-philanthropist had so often extended a helping hand had come forward, eager to pay a last tribute to his memory".
Despite a lack of formal education, McKiernan considered himself an intellectual and was an avid reader. He engaged in heated debates on the topics of the day and was a champion for the rights of the common man. He entertained the crowds with poetry and humorous stories which lampooned the figures of authority in the workingman's life, such as the employer, the landlord, or the local church minister.

He acted as an advocate for the working class population of Griffintown and played an important role in the Lachine Canal workers strike of 1877. He provided them with 3,000 loaves of bread and 500 gallons of stew, and paying the travel expenses of their delegation to Ottawa. As they set off, he addressed a crowd of 2,000 in front of his tavern with a rousing speech "delivered in rhymed endings which was heartily applauded." He also assisted strikers at the east-end Hudon textile factory in 1882.

As the focal point of social life in Griffintown at the time, Joe Beef's Canteen provided early social services such as housing, food, and casual employment for the poor and downtrodden.
He was a central character in a play by David Fennario, entitled Joe Beef.
McKiernan was the inspiration behind Joe Beef Restaurant, which opened in 2005 on Notre Dame Street West in the neighbourhood of Little Burgundy.

courtesy – Wikipedia

©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Monday, August 22, 2016

Redpath Sugar




Redpath Sugar was established as the Canada Sugar Refining Company in 1854 in Montreal, Quebec by Scots-Quebecer entrepreneur, John Redpath (1796-1869).

Located on the bank of the Lachine Canal, the giant complex was the first of its kind in Canada, using sugar cane imported from the British West Indies. Its construction was part of the economic boom that, during the 19th century, turned Montreal from a small town to (then) the largest city in Canada and the country’s economic engine.

In 1857, John's son Peter Redpath (1821-1894) became a partner; his brother-in-law, George Alexander Drummond (1829-1910) joined the firm in 1861. Unable to compete with the giant low-cost producers in the United States, for the three years between 1876 and 1878 the company ceased operations.

Following the tariff protections implemented under the National Policy by the government of Sir John A. Macdonald, the company reopened in 1879, as did St. Lawrence Sugar, a new competitor established in Montreal. George Drummond took over when Peter Redpath retired in 1888. Under his guidance, the company's success allowed for construction of a new six-storey plant built on the existing site, doubling production capacity.

In 1930, the company merged with Canada Sugar Refining Company Limited of Chatham, Ontario. In 1959, Redpath Industries Ltd. was acquired by the British company Tate & Lyle plc. The Redpath Sugar Refinery was built on the Toronto waterfront in the late 1950s, at the time of the completion of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, and is still in operation.

David Davis, later a senior Conservative politician, was sent from Britain to restructure its Canadian subsidiary. In 1980, the Montreal plant was closed and production was shifted to Toronto. In 2007, the company was taken over by American Sugar Refining.

Redpath Sugar


©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 19, 2016

St. Gabriel’s Church (1895)


St. Gabriel’s was the second Irish Catholic church built in Point St. Charles, erected on the site of an older church dating to 1875. As is almost always the case in Montreal, Irish and French-Canadian Catholics, despite their geographic and social proximity, have separate parishes. In 1875, the Irish outnumbered French Canadians in Point St. Charles and for a short time St. Gabriel’s served both linguistic groups.

Destroyed by fire – 1956


St. Gabriel’s today, the steeple was never rebuilt

Over the years the number of English-speaking Catholics in the Point decreased, but many former residents, and in fact many others from the greater Montreal area adopted St Gabriel's as their own. 
The Irish in particular are very fond of the parish. For many years, two Sundays before St Patrick's day, a popular mass of anticipation has been celebrated in the church. And on the last Sunday of May, after Sunday mass, there is a walk from the church to the Stone at the foot of Victoria bridge. It is there that so many Irish, and many French Canadians who cared for them, died of typhus.

Photographs of the fire courtesy - Perry Barton and Carlo Pielroniro

©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Rescued Film Project

This came across my news feed this morning, I thought it was worth sharing.

The Rescued Film Project

They have a Facebook page

Website is here

How many rolls of undeveloped film do you have sitting around?

©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Maple Stars and Stripes

I'm a French-Canadian residing in the United States, I no longer speak French because after coming to the States I wanted to fit in, I didn't want to speak French any longer. Was that a positive decision, probably not, but for a little girl going to school in rural Indiana it made perfect sense. I never regretted my decision to only speak 'American' until I started researching my family tree, half of my tree is French-Canadian and I don't speak or read the language. Oh my!

Actually with a lot of research and help from my French speaking Mother I've done very well, but sometimes wondered if there were other like me, researching French-Canadian ancestors from the United States.

I'm an avid researcher, and one day I stumbled upon Maple Stars and Stripes Your French-Canadian Genealogy Podcast, I was hooked! Authored by Sandra Goodwin, her podcasts took the mystery out of much of my French-Canadian genealogy. The first podcast I listened to was 'The Dreaded 'dit' Name',  Sandra's second podcast, I've not missed a podcast since.

If you want to understand more of your French-Canadian ancestry please have a listen to Sandra Goodwin's Maple Stars and Stripes.

(c)2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Ghosts of Griffintown

Mary Gallagher was a prostitute, brutally murdered on June 26, 1879 at 242 William Street. Soon after, the residence was besieged by neighbours in this Irish community of Griffintown, curious as to what had happened. Now, each and every seven years, a small group of ex-Griffintowners meet at the corner of William and Murray, also curious, to watch for her ghost.

GHOSTS of GRIFFINTOWN is a 63 min. documentary about this haunting and historic area established in 1654 shortly after the founding of Montreal. The fact that de Maisonneuve granted this land to Jeanne Mance because of misappropriated funds was the start of a rocky history. It was always a neglected area with high rents and poor housing, and its share of saints and sinners (as well as floods and fires). But it was also a community of strong people determined to carve out a life for themselves.

Most of the hard work of building the factories, the Lachine canal, the Victoria Bridge, the harbour and the railroads was done by Irish "navvies".

In the 1940s, Griffintown's population started to dwindle as people moved to better neighbourhoods, and by 1970 urban expansion had bulldozed whatever remained... except for the memories.
In GHOSTS of GRIFFINTOWN you will learn of the strong attachment and deep affection people have for the area. You will see how loyalty and a sense of community won out over conditions of poverty. You will hear not only about the ghost of Mary Gallagher but about the ghost of a neighbourhood that just drifted away.
Read about the Ghosts of Griffintown.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Griffontown Remembered

HAPPY FURLONG'S LIFE was saved by a quart of beer. When the elderly carriage driver left his rooming house at the corner of Shannon and Ottawa streets in Montreal's Griffintown shortly after 10 a.m., to buy his favourite ale at the local corner store, he had no idea that an RAF Liberator was about to take off from a supply base in Dorval.

That 25-ton bomber, on a classified mission to Europe on that drizzly spring morning of April 25, 1944, would develop engine trouble as it approached Mount Royal. My uncle, Frank Doyle, then an 11-year-old student in St. Ann's Boys' School, a block from Furlong's flat, remembers how the plane swooped over the school as the pilot made a desperate attempt to reach the river. "We were just coming in after recess," he says. "We heard this big noise, zoom, it shook the place. Brother Edward, our teacher, said, 'Stay here and pray.' " God saved the schoolchildren. The plane missed the school and crashed into the block where Furlong lived. Nine of his neighbours, a beat constable, and the plane's five crew members died.

So the luck of the Irish goes only so far. The plane crash is the worst of many calamities to hit Griffintown. The storied neighbourhood - home to Irish immigrants who fled the potato famines in the 1800s and to several generations of their descendants - has endured floods, fires, riots and strikes. It's a colourful past that has won Griffintown a small, if unhappy, place in the literary imagination…more

Friday, August 5, 2016

Sgt. Eric Frederick Wright


Eric was born 22/Dec/1920 to Ernest and Elsie Wright, one of 8 children. Siblings were Howard, John, Joseph, Audrey, Joyce, Dorothy and Mrs. Small. He was a member of the Church of England. Eric worked at Steinbergs Grocery Store.

He enlisted with the Three Rivers Regiment 12th Army Tank on 12/Aug/1940, trained at Camp Borden, ON and was sent to Europe.

Sgt. Wright was Killed In Action on 23/May/1944 in Italy, and is interred at Cassino Military Cemetery.



Sgt. Wright was awarded:

1939-1945 Star

Italy Star

Defence Medal

War Medal 1939-1945

CVSM & clasp



©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Lance Seargeant William Henry Webb


L. Sgt. Webb was born 15/Sept/1920 in Montreal to William Henry and Mary Jane Webb, one of 5 children that included John, Robert, Mary, Emily, and Marjorie.

He married Martha and they had two children, Bernard and Beverly. He attended St. George’s church.

He enlisted 8/4/1942 in The Galgary Highlanders, 79th Field Artillery and was KIA (killed in action) 26/Apr/1945 in Germany.



L. Sgt. Webb is interred at Holten Canadian Military Cemetery, Netherlands.

The Netherlands fell to the Germans in May 1940 and was not re-entered by Allied forces until September 1944.

The great majority of those buried in Holten Canadian War Cemetery died during the last stages of the war in Holland, during the advance of the Canadian 2nd Corps into northern Germany, and across the Ems in April and the first days of May 1945. After the end of hostilities their remains were brought together into this cemetery.



Holten Canadian War Cemetery contains 1,393 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War.

L. Sgt. Webb was awarded:

1939-1945 Medal

France-Germany star

Defence Medal

War Medal

CVSM w/clasp


©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
All Rights Reserved



Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Pvt. John Somma


Born in Campobasso, Italy to Luigi and Angelina Somma on 2/Mar/1921, John had two brothers, Guiseppe and Diego, and two sisters, Teresa and Antoinella who became Felicetta of the Filipine Sisters. John attended St. Ann’s and was a tailor by trade.

John enlisted with Les Fusiliers Mont Royal, R.C.I.C. and was listed Missing In Action and then confirmed Killed In Action in France on 19/Aug/1942 and is interred at the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery in Normandie, France.


The Dieppe Raid of 18-19 August 1942 was the first large scale daylight assault on a strongly held objective on the Continent since the Allied withdrawal of 1940.

The objectives of the raid were the destruction the Dieppe defences and neighbouring radar and aerodrome installations, the raiding of a German divisional headquarters close by and the capture of prisoners.




The largely Canadian military force undertook the main assault on Dieppe itself, with flanking assaults by Commando units and additional Canadian battalions to the east and west of the town intended to neutralise batteries that commanded the direct approach. Support was provided by more than 250 naval vessels and 69 air squadrons.

Only the assaulting parties on the extreme flanks came within reasonable reach of their ambitious objectives and casualties were very heavy, with more than 3,600 of the military force of 6,100 killed, wounded, missing or captured. Naval casualties numbered 550.

Many of those who died in the raid are buried at Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery, where 948 Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War are now buried or commemorated. Other casualties of the raid are at Rouen, where some of the wounded were taken to hospital.

Pvt. Somma was awarded:

1939-1945 Star

Defence Medal

1939-1945 War Medal

CVSM and clasp


There is no headstone photograph available.


©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Sgt. Charles. F. Stankus

Charles was born 12/16/1916 in Victoriatown to Kasimiri and Anastasia Stankus, he had one brother, Alphonse. He worked at the Montreal Drydocks doing various jobs, one being a ships riveter.

He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Artillery as a bombadier (gunner) and was sent to the Mediterranan Theatre.


Sgt. Stankus was listed as Missing At Sea on 5/Jul/1943, he left behind a wife, Sophia and son, Charles Joseph.

He was awarded:

1939-1945 Star
Italy Star
Defence Medal
War Medal
CVSM & clasp

Sgt. Stankus is interred at Cassino War Cemetery in the Commune of Cassino, Province of Frosinone, 139 kilometres south-east of Rome. Panel 14.

The site for Cassino War Cemetery was originally selected in January 1944, but the development of the battle during the first five months of that year made it impossible to use it until after the Germans had withdrawn from Cassino.

During these early months of 1944, Cassino saw some of the fiercest fighting of the Italian campaign, the town itself and the dominating Monastery Hill proving the most stubborn obstacles encountered in the advance towards Rome.

The majority of those buried in the war cemetery died in the battles during these months.

There are now 4,266 Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War buried or commemorated at Cassino War Cemetery. 284 of the burials are unidentified.

Within the cemetery stands the CASSINO MEMORIAL which commemorates over 4,000 Commonwealth servicemen who took part in the Italian campaign and whose graves are not known. The Memorial was designed by Louis de Soissons and unveiled by Field Marshal The Rt. Hon. The Earl Alexander of Tunis on 30 September 1956.

    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    All Rights Reserved

    Monday, August 1, 2016

    Sgt. Robert Michael Pitts


    Robert was born 7/May/1923 to Robert Pitts and Margaret French, the eldest of 5 children in Pte. St. Charles. He attended St. Ann’s Boy’s School and was active in many sports including swimming, skating, bowling, and baseball. He worked in the assessor’s office for the City of Montreal. He also took 3 years of technical school.

    Robert enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a wireless operator and served in England.



    Sgt. Pitts aircraft disappeared somewhere over England while on a night training mission. None of the crew nor the plane were ever found.



    Sgt. Robert Michael Pitts
    Missing On Active Service

    Sgt. Pitts is memorialized at Runnymede Memorial – Panel 256

    This Memorial overlooks the River Thames on Cooper's Hill at Englefield Green between Windsor and Egham on the A308, 4 miles from Windsor.

    The Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede commemorates by name over 20,000 airmen who were lost in the Second World War during operations from bases in the United Kingdom and North and Western Europe, and who have no known graves.

    They served in Bomber, Fighter, Coastal, Transport, Flying Training and Maintenance Commands, and came from all parts of the Commonwealth.

    Some were from countries in continental Europe which had been overrun but whose airmen continued to fight in the ranks of the Royal Air Force.

    The memorial was designed by Sir Edward Maufe with sculpture by Vernon Hill. The engraved glass and painted ceilings were designed by John Hutton and the poem engraved on the gallery window was written by Paul H Scott.

    The Memorial was unveiled by The Queen on 17 October 1953.


    ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
    All Rights Reserved