By Doreen Coombs
Photo: Jeff Brown
On June 25, 1916, the 91st Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, numbering over 900 men and women mostly from Elgin County and St. Thomas, marched down Talbot Street to the train station, departing for Halifax, and then on to France. On Sunday, June 26, 2016, now 100 years later, after a weekend of special events and gatherings to mark this important event, approximately 150 people came together for a service of Morning Prayer at Trinity Anglican Church, St Thomas.
Many of those who gathered were descendants of the original Battalion. As they worshipped together they continued to express their gratitude for the sacrifice that was made to secure victory in 1918. It was an emotional and a nostalgic time for many.
Rev. Valerie Kenyon, Rector of Trinity St Thomas, lead the service with Rev. Canon Nick Wells, Chaplain Branch 41 Royal Canadian Legion assisting, and Rev. Mark Sargent – Honorary-Lieutenant-Colonel – who gave the homily.
The colours of the 91st were laid up at Trinity Anglican Church in 1932 within a chapel dedicated to the Battalion and to the more than 180 men they lost in active service between 1916 and 1918. Interestingly enough Rev. Mark Sargent had recently found a 1932 bulletin from this dedication service containing some of the same hymns that were sung at this service.
Everyone that entered the church received a poppy, later to be put on a wreath that had been placed on the memorial chapel altar, so that each individual could participate in a personal act of remembrance.
We will always remember that they put duty first.