Grand Forks’ Royal Canadian Legion (RCL) aims to put a headstone on a city veteran’s unmarked grave.
Pte. Thomas Walker’s last earthly resting place was flagged by a traffic cone at the Evergreen Cemetery when The Gazette met Branch 059’s Sandra and Terry Doody Tuesday, Nov. 9. It’s to Sandra’s credit that Walker’s plot was located at all.
Walker died in the summer of 1940, but his memory resurfaced only recently. Sandra had posted an article to the branch’s Facebook page about local First World War veteran Pte. William Collins, also buried at Evergreen. This drew the attention of Walker’s great grandson, who got in touch with Sandra by email.
It emerged through their correspondence that Walker had been laid to rest somewhere in the cemetery. Nothing was left to mark the spot where he lay until early this month, when Sandra asked City Hall’s Charlene Euerby to bring up his burial records. The traffic cone, reverently placed on his grave, would draw Sandra to a patch of bare grass where she planted a small Canadian flag.
His service records show that he served in the First World War with the Calgary Regiment of the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s 10th Battalion. Wounded somewhere in Northern France, he left the army in December 1917.
Dying of complications of disease 23 years later, he was laid to rest roughly a year after Canada entered the Second World War.
“No service member should have to rest in an unmarked grave,” husband Terry told The Gazette. As Service Officer for Branch 059, Terry said he was putting together an application to the RCL’s Last Post Fund, which provides for headstones for deserving veterans.
Asked if there were other veterans lying in unmarked graves throughout the Boundary, Terry said, “There could be many.”
Ptes. Collins and Walker were among 172,000 Canadians wounded in the First World War, according to the Canadian War Museum’s website.