Growing local tradition honours Perth County veterans

With Remembrance Day ceremonies scaled back this year due to the pandemic, a Stratford family is thankful for a growing local tradition highlighting the military service of past and present Perth County residents.

Larry Dale, a retired firefighter in Stratford, holds photos of his uncle, Frank Morley (left), and his father, Bruce Dale, who both served with the Royal Canadian Airforce during the Second World War. Both men are among seven area soldiers featured on Remembrance Day banners hung in downtown Stratford this year, part of a tradition that began in 2018. (CORY SMITH/Stratford Beacon Herald)

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With Remembrance Day ceremonies scaled back this year due to the pandemic, a Stratford family is thankful for a growing local tradition highlighting the military service of past and present Perth County residents.

Four members of the Dale family are among seven soldiers featured for the first time on banners put up in Stratford’s downtown core earlier this week, joining 21 others whose banners have been displayed during the lead up to Nov. 11 since the tradition began in 2018.

Among them is Bruce Dale and his brother Keith Dale, who served with the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy, respectively, during the Second World War.

Their father, George Dale, twice wounded during the First World War, including at the Battle of the Somme, and Bruce’s brother in-law, Frank Morley, a Royal Canadian Air Force flight officer declared missing in action in August 1944, are also on new banners.

Bruce’s son, Larry Dale, a retired Stratford firefighter, said it’s “uplifting” to see his father and other members of the family acknowledged for their military service all these years later, something that wasn’t brought up very often during his childhood.

“I don’t think they had good memories to think about,” Larry said. “It wasn’t a top thing in anybody’s mind and you’ll find a lot of people that were in the war did not talk about it.”

The family hopes to add a banner for Gord Morley, Larry’s maternal grandfather, a stretcher bearer in the First World War, next year.

Gathering information for the banners, which are produced by the Stratford Perth Museum with help from The ImageFactory Design Studio and Lange Bros. tree cutting service, was a group effort that included Larry and his cousins, Gary Dale and Ross Dale, and Gary’s daughter, Renee Dallner.

Dallner has taken a specific interest in her family’s military history, even travelling to famous battle sites in Europe to better understand what soldiers faced on the front lines. Last year, she spent Remembrance Day at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres, Belgium, not far from where her great-grandfather was wounded.

“I think it’s important that my kids, who are 14 and 9, know their history,” she said. “I’ve travelled quite a bit to places my grandfather and great-grandfather both were and my kids have asked why I’m going there, so I’ve been telling them.

“It’s important to … get subsequent generations informed.”

The first banners were raised in Stratford after the idea was brought to the Stratford Perth Museum by the Royal Canadian Legion and singer/songwriter Loreena McKennitt for the anniversary of the end of the First World War.

The museum will continue to produce seven banners a year, said John Kastner, its general manager, but it’s worth noting they do require a $200 donation to the museum Kastner said covers the cost to make them.

“These outreach projects are critical to what we do, but (they also tell) that historical story,” he said. The banner project specifically “celebrates history and most importantly, it honours people that made sacrifices for this country,” he added.

“I think this is a really good example of an action that says, ‘lest we forget.’”

cmontanini@postmedia.com


Stratford and area soldiers featured on Remembrance Day banners this year

Dr. A. Brydone Fleming

RCAF Flight Lieutenant

WWII 1940-1945

 

H. Lyndon Doadt

Oxford Rifles

WWII 1939-1945

 

Corporal George Albert Dale

1st Battalion WIA Ypres, Somme (age 20)

WWI 1915-1918

 

Keith Harold Dale

Stoker 1st Class HMCS Ribble (Age 19)

WWII 1942-1945

 

Sergeant Bruce Dale

RCAF T-Gunner

SQ 408

WWII 1943 – 1945

 

Flight Officer Frank K. Morley

RCAF 166th, RAF

MIA Aug 1944, Never Found

WWII 1939 – 1945

 

Rifleman John (Jack) Jones

Queen’s Own Rifles

WIA D-Day, June 6, 1944

WWII 1943 – 1945

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