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Remembrance Day with a Founding Member, Lorne Main

Remembrance Day with a Founding Member, Lorne Main

Friday, November 09, 2018

BURK’S FALLS – Lorne Main, 92, says while Remembrance Day has always held a special place in his heart over the years, he will be feeling it a little more deeply in 2018 – the 100th anniversary of the end of First World War – because of his father.

“See this here? It’s my father’s paybook,” he told the News as he carefully thumbed the pages of the century-old document. “You can see there, that’s where he was made a sergeant.”

The book gives him a small glimpse into the days his father, Thomas Bennett Main, spent overseas – something Main says he never heard about from the man himself.

Handwritten scribble on the back page shows he was wounded at some point during his time with the Second Canadian Pioneer Battallion, and his pay per day was $1.70.

Just behind Main in his Burk’s Falls apartment hangs a photo of his father in uniform with three medals framed below, one being a military medal for bravery in the field.

But despite Main’s long-time passion and expertise in genealogy and history – he has never been able to determine what his father did to get the medal.

“It’s the one thing I haven’t found out yet,” he said. “All I know is that the king of England granted it to him but I have never been able to track down the citation that explains what he did.”

And his father, he added, never spoke of the war.

“He worked in the trenches,” Main continued. “And the only time I ever heard him mention anything of it was the day that he died. I guess he was reliving it, all he saw was men coming down the trenches and chasing rats. It was sad to see.”

Main and all three of his siblings, following in their father's footsteps, enlisted for duty years later during the Second World War.

“My brother Bob was the oldest, he joined in 1939,” he said. “My brother Bill followed close behind joining in 1941 and my sister Isobel went in 1942."

Lorne, the youngest of the four, joined at the age of 15 and went on active duty in 1944 at the age of 19 – but he was never sent overseas.

“I finished my training as a machine-gunner at Camp Borden and then when I was posted for overseas and the colonel came down to check everyone, he looked at me and said I wasn’t going,” Main explained. “I could never figure it out.”

It wasn’t until after the war that he learned there was an unspoken policy that they would never send an entire family overseas – so Lorne spent his time in service in various stations around Ontario.

“We all wanted to make my dad proud,” he continued. “And he was. He was proud to see us all follow in his footsteps.”

The family, he says, considered themselves lucky to have everyone come home in one piece.

“Living through the war, it was a worrisome time,” he concluded. “I had a school friend who was killed, he had a wife and a baby and they never saw him again. I definitely like to remember those that never came home. He was just one of them. There were others, so many others."

by Danielle Marr

Danielle Marr is a reporter with the Almaguin News.

Email: dmarr@metroland.com 

Father's First World War bravery medal remains a mystery to Burk's Falls resident

COMMUNITY Oct 29, 2018 Almaguin News