Kitchener couple finds WW II medals in walls, tracks down Quebec-born soldier’s granddaughter

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Kerry and Krista O’Brien have lived in their Kitchener, Ont., residence since 2015, however by no means observed a small cardboard field tucked in the partitions of the semi-finished basement till they started renovations this fall.

“When our contractors had been down there doing the demolition, they had been hammering on some studs and one thing knocked free, and they also pulled out a field that was nestled between the joists,” Krista informed CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. 

The teal-coloured field had been camouflaged by the partitions, which had been the same color, she mentioned. 

“The [construction] foreman got here upstairs and popped his head via the door and mentioned, ‘Hey we discovered one thing in the partitions.'”

Inside the teal-coloured field

Inside the field had been 5 Second World War-era medals and a notice written by the federal authorities at the time. It mentioned:

The Minister of National Defence in forwarding the enclosed medals issued in respect of the service of A104166 personal H.A Webster in the course of the conflict 1939 to 1945. Begs to specific, on behalf of the Government of Canada, honest appreciation of companies rendered.

The medals are a typical mixture given to individuals who served in that conflict, mentioned Matt Baker, a analysis affiliate on the Laurier Centre for the Study of Canada. 

“They point out the recipient volunteered for service in the course of the conflict and served abroad, together with in the course of the interval of fight in northwest Europe from D-Day to VE Day,” Baker informed CBC.

“If you served in the Pacific or in the Mediterranean, you’ll obtain a barely totally different group.” 

Who was H.A. Webster?

The O’Briens made it their objective to seek out Webster’s household and work out how his service medals ended up in their basement. 

“This is a crucial heirloom and in order that’s why I feel it is so necessary to me to get it again to them,” mentioned Kerry.

Archives present Howard Arlington Webster was born on Nov. 11, 1912, in Bury, Que., to Samuel and Enid Webster. He was considered one of seven youngsters.

Webster was residing in Ariss, Ont., north of Guelph when he enlisted for the Second World War. An ancestry web site reveals he had been married to Ada Mary they usually had a baby. Webster labored in Guelph at Sterling Rubber Company the place he was a dipper. 

According to his attestation papers, Pte. Webster signed as much as serve with the Canadian Forces and headed abroad on May 14, 1943. He served with the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps and fought in what Matt Baker calls “a part of the crescendo of the Battle of Normandy,” on Aug. 14 and 15, 1944. 

The medals, from left, are the 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal (with bar) and War Medal 1939-45. (Joe Pavia/CBC)

“Webster was killed throughout one thing known as Operation Tractable, which was a part of an enormous Allied push to encircle the stays of the German military in Normandy,” mentioned Baker.

Baker mentioned the target of Webster’s unit was a chateau in the Villiage of d’Assy, southeast of Caen. 

“They assaulted the chateau and took it beneath cowl of smoke and artillery, fought off some fierce German counterattacks, so Webster was killed both that day or throughout mopping up operations, the day after,” mentioned Baker. 

Webster was buried at Bretteville–Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery in Calvados, France.

Reunion nearer than anticipated

With that info in hand, Kerry started the search to seek out any of the soldier’s surviving household.

A search of Ancestry.com, mixed with info from the Kitchener Public Library’s metropolis listing, confirmed him that somebody with the final identify Webster had lived in his residence in the Nineteen Sixties. The names Wayne, Lorna had been listed — with a Michelle Webster having lived there as just lately because the Nineteen Nineties. 

Kerry discovered a girl by the identical identify, simply 20 minutes away in New Hamburg — Michelle Webster had bought the home from her dad and mom and bought it about seven years earlier than the O’Briens bought it. 

H.A. Webster was her grandfather.

Her father, Wayne Webster, was only a child when Pte. Webster was killed in motion in France. 

“My dad has since handed away. So when [Kerry] mentioned, ‘Do you realize Wayne Webster?’ And I’m like, ‘Yep, that is my dad,” mentioned Michelle.

“I’d suppose that my mother and pop knew they had been right here, and possibly the field simply match in that little house. [The basement] was unfinished, particularly in that space. So a lot of two-by-fours, a lot of little shelving that you could possibly set issues on.”

Not figuring out they had been there herself, the little field of medals did not make the transfer together with her to her new residence in New Hamburg, however she mentioned she’s going to reunite the set of 5 medals with a sixth she has at residence.

She mentioned she plans to place all of them along with some outdated photographs of her grandfather in a memorial show as a manner of paying tribute to his time in the conflict and his sacrifice. 

The Morning Edition – Okay-W8:16Kitchener couple finds World War 2 medals throughout renovation

When Krista and Kerry O’Brien started renovations on their residence in Kitchener, Ont., they by no means anticipated to seek out conflict memorabilia tucked in the basement’s partitions. The discovery earlier this fall led to their journey to find surviving household of the medals’ proprietor: a soldier born Nov. 11, 1912, in Bury, Que.

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