New Brunswick—Presentation of Military Artifacts to Canadian War MuseumPublished on 23 November 2016 Hansard and Statements by Senator Joseph Day
Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable senators, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a ceremony at National Defence Headquarters on November 7 of this year to witness the official presentation of two significant New Brunswick military artifacts to the Canadian War Museum: a Vimy Ridge grave marker of a fallen soldier in the First World War at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and a Canadian Army Show ventriloquist puppet, otherwise known as Private Willie Whitebone.
Private Willie Whitebone was the stage prop of Sergeant Russell Whitebone, a Saint John native who served in the army from 1941 to 1946. Joined by Private Willie Whitebone, Sergeant Whitebone travelled across Canada, England and northwest Europe entertaining troops as a member of the Army Show, lifting the spirits of all who watched. Still in his Second World War battle dress, Private Willie Whitebone was presented to the Canadian War Museum by Holly Riley, Allan Whitebone and the family.
The other artifact, the Vimy Ridge grave marker, once marked the burial place of Private John Firman Ashe, a New Brunswicker who enlisted with the 104th New Brunswick Battalion in April of 1916 at the age of 25. In November he re-mustered to the 26th New Brunswick Battalion, with which he paid the ultimate sacrifice on April 9 at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Private Ashe is buried in the Quatre-Vents Military Cemetery in Estrée-Cauchy, France. The original wood cross once marking Private Ashe’s resting place was presented to the Canadian War Museum by Jim Landry, Theresa Landry and family. They have kept it in the family since 1917.
Honourable senators, Private Willie Whitebone and Private Ashe’s grave markers are now in the caring hands of the Canadian War Museum, where they will be put on display for all Canadians to see. These historically significant military artifacts represent just a small portion of the legacy left by the many brave Canadians who fought for our great country in the First and Second World Wars. We will remember them.