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In 1964 Melbourne Legion Branch 510 purchased two lots at the Longwood Cemetery to build a memorial stone to honour all those that had fallen in past conflicts. Construction was complete in 1965.  This cemetery is located approximately 2 km north of Melbourne on Melbourne Road.  The Legion members and members of the community would march out to it from the village and have a ceremony every year.

After a number of years the Legion decided to look for land closer to the village.  Mrs. Elsie (Vail) Auld and Mrs. Ina (Vail) Campbell of Melbourne made the new park a reality when they donated a triangle of land to the Melbourne Royal Canadian Legion Branch 510.  This new park would located across the street from the Presbyterian church facing Victoria Street.

The land was donated in memory Mrs. Beatrice McDougall, a long-time resident of Melbourne.  She lived in the red brick house across from the new park. The triangle became separated as a result of everyone taking a short cut across the property that eventually became a road.

The land was deeded as a gift with the intent that the Legion would maintain the park. The Melbourne Legion moved the war memorial to its new location in 1985.  Other additions to the new park included plants, flag poles, lights (1987) and interlocking brick (1988).

With the move the memorial is now more visible and closer to the churches.

Currently Museum Staff are working at adding a Virtual Memorial for the Melbourne Cenotaph that is similar to that of Strathroy and Mount Brydges.

Melbourne Cenotaph

Melbourne Cenotaph

WWI Soldiers that were inscribed on the Cenotaph in 2014 include

Pte John McDougald
L Cpl William Newman
Pte Arthur Stevenson
Pte John Annett

Others from Melbourne area that are honoured on other memorials include

Wilfred James Cooper
John Andrew Dow Elder
Arthur William Good
Joseph Edward Moore
Dougald McNeil

WWII Soldiers names there inscribed on the Cenotaph in 2014 include

F/O John Dewar
Cpl Lorne Evans
                                                                      Pte Warren Kellestine 
                                                                AC2 John Brodie

Information gathered from the following sources
Melbourne WI – Transcript and Free Press pg. 20 November 7 1985
A Split Village by JoAnn Galbraith
Honour Rolls and Cenotaphs of Middlesex County by John Sargeant

WWII Veteran

Clifford Arrand Adelaide Township WWII Vet

Clifford Arrand was born in Adelaide Township in 1917. His family owned a large farm where they did custom threshing and serviced the community with farm supplies. He enlisted in the armed forces November 1939 in London and took his basic training in Woodstock where he was classified as a Gunner. After training he took leave to take employment at the Strathroy Flour Mill making flour for shipment overseas. He married Frances Wilson in 1944. Clifford was later recalled and after spending time in New Brunswick he landed in Europe in January 1945. He fought with the 95th Battalion 2nd Division for B Company with the Essex Scottish (based out of Windsor ON). After a number of hard-fought battles he was in Germany when his battalion received word that the Germans had surrendered on May 4th, 1945.

After the war Clifford and his wife Frances bought a farm in Adelaide Township and worked in mix farming for years. Clifford also worked for the Department of Highways and would travel where the work was, taking his young family and living in a trailer during the summer months. After retirement they sold the farm in Adelaide Township and moved to Strathroy.

Here is a YouTube video of Clifford at a school talking about his experiences in WWII.  Clifford passed away on December 17, 2013.

Information from

Adelaide Township: WWII Armed Forces … Their Stories

Adelaide Township … A History

Both compiled by the Adelaide Township Heritage Group.

When Ross was born in 1920 the Lyceum in Strathroy was showing Charlie Chaplin in “The Count”, and Rapley and Ballantyne Druggists were advertising Preserves and Pickles.

Lyceum Ad

Birth Announcement

Ross grew up in a large family that lived on Railway Avenue.   His father worked at Tantons Undertaker and Furniture Store on Front Street where he was an upholsterer by trade.  Ross attended Maitland Street Public School and judging by the photo below was one of the tallest boys in the class.

File0025

When Ross was only 16 he left school to support his family as his father had passed way a few years prior.  He started working at the Middlesex Furniture Factory in 1936 and continued there until the outbreak of war.   He joined the Royal Canadian Navy on May 20, 1942.  During the war he was part of the crew of the HMCS Huron.  Here you see a number of items from this time.  The boots were purchased in 1943 in England.  In each boot, on the strap, “K. R. Smith” is written.  Ross sewed his name into the Navy blanket using a “housewife” kit his mother sent him.

HMCS Huron

Ross Smith

Smith BlanketSmith Boots

Doris Wright
During his service in the Navy he started to court a “local girl” who was in the W. R. C. N. S. (Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service) also known as the Wrens.  By the end of the war this division of the Navy had 39 trades open to women.  Job categories included steward, plotter, sick berth attendant and coder.  Ross and Doris dated throughout the war and even found time in Halifax in 1944 to “go out on the town”.

Ross returned home in 1945 and was discharged on October 2nd of that same year.  He received a Public Recognition Certificate from the Town, thanking him for serving in World War II.  Doris and Ross married on June 14 1947 and settled down on Saulsbury Street to start their family.

Recognition

june 19 47


Doris continued her work as a telephone operator and Ross went back to the Middlesex Furniture Factory.  In 1950 a group panoramic photo was taken of the staff of the factory, here you see Ross in the second row from the bottom, 7th from the right.  He continued at the factory until 1982 when he retired.

Doris at a Switchboard

Middlesex Furniture 1950 web

Middlesex Furniture 1950 Ross

On his down time Ross liked to collect model trains, do yard work, and garden.  Looking through the local newspaper, the Strathroy Age Dispatch, we come across Ross showing off an amaryllis plant that had six blooms in February 1972.  Ross was also a regular member of the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Strathroy, and below you will see a photo from the 1988 Church Yearbook.

Ross Smith AD Feb 24 1972Ross and Doris Church Photo 1988

Finally there is one more photo, and this is how I will remember Ross, standing in his uniform with all of his WWII medals.

Ross with medals

Ross will be missed.

Clarence (Hoot) Gibson was a well-known Strathroy resident for those old and young.  On Monday November 15th 2010, he passed away at the age of 92.

Hoot onboard the HMCS Port Arthur

Just this year Hoot and his family donated a number of pieces to the museum. During WWII, he was a torpedo coxswain onboard the HMCS Port Arthur and the museum received Navy uniforms, photographs and other archival material related to the Hoot’s time during the War.  The museum was able to exhibit some of these items in time for Remembrance Day and he was able to come see the display.

Other items from his collection include Minstrel Show pieces, tambourines and bones, that were used during the theatrical productions.

He was also well known in Strathroy as the arena manager at the West Middlesex Memorial Centre  from 1953 to 1978 and as Santa.  To read more on this wonderful story see  Santa Hoot, by John Grogan and Michael Grogan.

Other items included a cape and cap from Strathroy General Hospital (now Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital) from his wife Amy (nee Handy), who graduated from the School of Nursing 1943.

Hoot will be missed.

About the Museum

Museum Strathroy-Caradoc opened to the public in 1972. As a community museum we strive to preserve and tell the story of Strathroy-Caradoc, and inspire residents to explore and understand the community around them.

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