In Remembrance of My Grandpa, (and John McCrea)

Before I head out to city hall  for the annual Rememberance Day ceremony I wanted to draft a quick post about my grandpa – Francis Patrick Walshe.

Below is a picutre of him on my parent’s wedding day, March 30, 1964. He lived to be 77 and died in 1971. Unfortunately I was too young to remember him, but every November 11th I think of him alot, and more and more as the years go by.

As a strapping 21 year old farm-boy from the Forth McLeod area in southern Alberta,  my grandfather went to northern Europe in the fall of 1914.  Like many of his fellow soldiers, he expected to have an easy tour of duty and to return in time for Christmas.

He came back to Alberta two and half years later a weary and wounded man, having lost his right leg and many of his best friends. The expected adventure had turned into a nightmare that would, in some ways, haunt him with physical and emotional pain for the rest of his life.

I find it very interesting that the surgeon who amputated his leg after he was wounded at Courcelette in the Somme Valley, was Col. John McCrea who, of course, in addition to being a military surgeon, wrote the famous poem In Flanders Fields.

Years ago my mom showed me the medical records signed by McCrea and ever since I have been very happy to share this little bit of family history. I like that the poem talks of remembering the fallen soldiers. My grandfather was incredibly lucky to survive when he was struck by an explosion that damaged his leg. He spent three days on the field hanging on to life, with gangrene setting in before he was transported to a hospital for amputation, and then on to England before returning home to Canada.

My grandfather was a gentle yet spirited man who went on the be a community leader in the Fort McLeod area and served for many years as a school trustee. The community named their high school after him and we are very honoured that his name rests as an example of the men who served their country and community with such great sacrifice.

Today and always we remember.

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