• Where Families Flourish

  • Where Families Flourish

  • Where Families Flourish

  • Where Families Flourish

  • Where Families Flourish

  • Where Families Flourish

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
Sunday, 19 November 2017 01:46

BIA Project Honours Fallen Soldiers

Remembrance Day Toppers Remembrance Day Toppers Kelsey Dunbar

Published with permission of Kelsey Dunbar, photographer/reporter for Wingham Advance-Times

WINGHAM — After months of researching and planning, Wingham’s main street is decorated to honour fallen soldiers who used to call the town home.

Back in February, when the Wingham Business Improvement Association (BIA) approved their 2017 budget, two projects with a specific focus on Remembrance Day were simultaneously approved by its members.

To go along with the sandwich boards the BIA provides to businesses to advertise their ongoing sales and promotions, the BIA decided Remembrance Day themed sign toppers would be a unique way for the town to show appreciation.
Sherry Giffen, Wingham BIA member and owner of Sherry’s Barber Shop, took lead and began researching back in April. She said in an interview with Metroland Media, that her first stop was the local Legion branch.

“I learned that Remembrance Day is to honour the fallen by all, it’s not necessarily specific to honour veterans period,” Giffen said.

The Legion provided her with 40 names. Of the 40 names 11 had photos and other information to go with the name. From there, Giffen said she reached out to Tim Wellstead owner of The Book Barn and Peter Gray of the North Huron Museum for assistance with her research, as well as Angela Benninger, owner of Earth Angel in Wingham, to design and print the signs.

“I was specifically looking for single photos … But Tim gave me this book (War Memorial of Huron County Heroes and Heroines) and I found a lot of the information I was looking for,” She said.

As a way to double check all the information she found, Giffen said she was always looking at multiple information outlets.

“I actually Googled the cenotaph and found a cenotaph website … it initially honoured soldiers from the First World War, but then the Second World War and Korean War were added after,” She said.

Once she had a rough list of names, Marc Woodham, the operations manager for the Huron County Chamber of Commerce, introduced her to the veterans website.“He helped me discover the veterans site where we could search for specific people, we could also search within a specific town (Wroxeter, Wingham, Belgrave, Whitechurch),” Giffen said. “I was able to search to discover missing photos of specific soldiers on our list.”

She said she was able to easily find a list of names, but there were many without photos. In the end she was able to track down and confirm 39 photos of fallen soldiers. Each of the 20 signs lining Josephine Street displays information of a fallen soldier on either side, with Mathew Dinning receiving a double-sided sign. Each sign has the name, photo, birth date, death date, and some background information on where they were from and where their parents were from.

While looking at multiple sources of information, Giffen said she found the information to be very disconnected with some misprints of names.

“You have to connect the dots. I can’t possibly connect all the dots because I am missing a lot of information,” She said.

Through her research she found that these mismatches came together as brothers or sometimes as the same person.

“There were some soldiers I could find pictures for, and then there were soldiers I found pictures for and they were not on the cenotaph, but that is a different topic all together,” Giffen said. “I plan on pursuing this at a later date, but I don’t want people saying, ‘Hey, why hasn’t this been done sooner,’ because I don’t want the focus to be on that.”

She said in the case that names are missing, she is going to put all her information together, validate with resources and references to prove whether or not a name is missing, and then follow the proper steps to ultimately get the missing name added to the cenotaph.

She added that names may not be missing, and the mismatches could be misprints or mistakes, but she wants to check all the boxes and make sure everyone is accounted for.

“I’m not a professional researcher by any means, but out of my own interests, I want to do diligence for the community and for the families of those who have fallen,” Giffen said.

“If we are going to stand up there and honour the fallen soldiers, and we know that there are soldiers missing, they need to be treated as equals and honoured for doing the same job as others who are honoured. That is where my passion comes from. If you are going to do it, do it the best that you can.”

Last modified on Sunday, 19 November 2017 02:12