The Story of One Brave Canadian Soldier
My brother David Johnson and I, as next of kin, were invited on behalf of the government of Canada to attend the military burial for Kenneth at the Adegem Canadian War Cemetery in Belgium. My husband, Gordon, accompanied me. Allister Cameron, a third cousin of mine, and his wife Carolyn, from Kenneth’s hometown, joined us in Belgium.
Our five-day trip to Bruges was coordinated by Events and Ceremonies Officer Paulette Ryan from Veterans Affairs. She arranged for our flights from Saskatoon so we could meet her and my brother at the airport in Toronto on Sunday, September 11. She accompanied us on our overnight flight to Brussels and was our escort for the next three days in Bruges. After our arrival, we explored this UNESCO World Heritage Centre on a sunny, warm afternoon, which helped us reset our biological clocks.
The formal part of our journey began on Tuesday, September 13. Our first stop was the archeological laboratory, where we met the team that was responsible for the recovery of Kenneth’s remains and viewed the artifacts recovered. What a surprising and extensive collection of military and personal items! Displayed on one corner of the table was the impressive assemblage of personal items: a signet ring with his initials, KDD, an engraved ID bracelet with Love Lillian on the back, a wallet with his ID card, a Waterman pen and pencil set, and many other artifacts. The general condition of the items was surprising, considering they had been buried for 72 years. I felt profound comfort when we were told that Kenneth’s boots and his bedroll were to be buried with him.
Our afternoon excursion started in the town of Moerkerke. We stood on the street in the town where the troops assembled before launching the attack. Details of the battle were explained while we stood by the canal along Algonquinstraat, a street named in honour of the regiment. We had the luxury of crossing the double canal by a bridge to reach the battleground at Molentje. On the night of the battle, however, the regiment had to cross both canals and the land separating them using heavy canvas-sided assault boats that had to be hauled up and down the steep banks under enemy fire.