The following is a quick recap of my latest excursion.
On Monday April 15, after revisiting some of my medal research, I came across two recipients who resided in somewhat close proximity to where I was planning a trip in Southern Ontario. I ran their names through the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid web site, and came up with the locations of their burials. One in the Hammer, and the other in London Ontario.
I contacted the Cemeteries to get the exact location of the graves, within the respective cemeteries. Armed with both locations identified, I finalized my road trip from Ottawa to Hamilton and London.
I left Ottawa on Wednesday April 17, bound for Peterborough for a visit with my father. I took a quick side trip to Picton and Trenton on Thursday April 18. The 19th of April, Friday, was my fathers 83rd Birthday so I was staying put. I enjoyed the day sitting around and talking with my father, and helping out around the house getting things ready in anticipation of spring. I am still working around his place. It never seems to end.
I left Peterborough Ontario, bound for the the Hammer (Hamilton). I picked up a good buddy in in the Hammer, who I had not seen since his abrupt departure from KAF (heart attack). We went to Woodland Cemetery in Hamilton, to search out, photograph, and pay our respects to James Rycroft. He is buried in Section 20, Lot 270. Simple enough, or so I thought.
We noticed that section 20 was quite flat and the rows of grave markers are very nicely laid out. We also noted that the Veterans in this section, all seemed to have a metal cross bearing the soldiers, name number and unit served. This coupled with the fact the Cemetery Records my man was listed as Sgt James Rycroft, (indicting a Veterans headstone) We thought... heck this is a cake walk.
NOT SO. We did a fairly quick run though the section without result. No Veterans stone, and no supplemental metal cross was found. The office was closed as it was Saturday, so asking for help was not an option. Ok we are on our own.
We went back through the rows a little slower this time. My buddy taking one row and me another, opposite of what we had first done. Still no results. So we changed things up a bit and my buddy moved off to section 20A (which is connected to 20) thinking maybe something was missing.
I searched section 20 grave by grave, looking between markers for anything that may be buried in the ground. Finally after what seemed like hours, honestly was only about 1 1/2 hours or so of searching, I finally came across a 'lot number' marker. I made note of the number and location and continued my search.
Finally another 'lot number' marker. Looking at the 2 markers in relation to the rest of the section, I was able to narrow my search to about a 20 x 20 foot search area. There buried in the dirt, I found what I was looking for. The Veterans stone for Sgt James Rycroft, D.C.M. M.M. RCA. To say the least I was very mixed about this. over the moon I found his marker, but equally unhappy that it was buried.
Photo number one was taken when I pushed some debris off this piece of concrete/marble. To reveal D.C.M. M.M.
This photo was taken after cleaning all the debris from his marker. You can see the 'wet' line of the stone indicating how much of this marker was under earth, not just leaves. I am not sure if it can bee seen in this photo, but the stone slopes downward so that the top of the stone was buried in about 4 to 5 inches of dirt and debris. This certainly did not happen overnight.
This final photo is Rycroft being reunited with his 1914-15 Star. As yet, this star is his only medal in my possession. Soon, I will have his D.C.M. His other medals remain in the wind somewhere.
At this point, I will keep it very short I promise. We went to London Ontario from Hamilton, too look for the marker of Albert J Lapine. Although I had his burial location from the cemetery, we were unable to locate it. The section he is buried in has been done haphazardly to say the least, is very large, and has hills and slopes. There are no distinct rows, no unified direction the markers face, no identifiable lot markers, NOTHING. 4 1/2 hours of the 2 of us searching produced not a thing. We left quite disheartened.
There was personal at the Office, but as we got there at 1:20 and they closed at 1:00, they would not help us.