On September 27th our society, Pennfield Parish Military Historical Society, hosted the fourth annual Pennfield Ridge War Memorial Service. The motto used for this service was: “This coming September 27th we will honour the seventy-six (76) service personnel killed at the two former Charlotte County military bases; remember those who have since gone on to join their comrades in the sky and listen to the stories from those we still have with us."
After seven months of planning we discovered, two hours before the service was to kick off, that the only thing we had no control over was Mother Nature herself. So due to the uncertainty of the weather it was decided to move the entire service into The Royal Canadian Legion (Branch #40), St. George. This monumental task would have not been accomplished without the assistance of Legion Past President Rolland T. Chater. Mr. Chater sat in his truck at the Pennfield Ridge Memorial Site and re-directed as many people as he could into the St. George Legion. Before too long people began to pour in and soon the 2:00pm. start time had to be delayed. This was due chiefly to the size of the crowd rolling in from “the Ridge”, which was well over one hundred and fifty people by the start of the service.
Looking back on things now it was a good thing that we moved things into the Legion, even with the headaches associated with moving things last minute, because the Memorial Site at Pennfield Ridge would not have easily accommodated such a large crowd. Although as Maj. B.J. Harrison, CD, MLA (Master of Ceremonies) remarked to me at the conclusion of the service “It would have been nice to have held the service outdoors, it adds more ambiance.”
President Jim Sulis laying a wreath at Memorial Service
Wreaths were laid on behalf on the Commonwealth Countries who sustained causalities at the Air Station as follows: RAF - F/L James Stewart, DFC; RCAF - F/O John Crammond; RAAF - Pvt. Terry Hurst and RNZAF - Lila McMillan (a civilian born in NZ). ABST Robert Anderson, RCNVR laid a wreath on behalf of the Royal Navy that lost a seaman (passenger aboard a Ventura aircraft when it crashed). Camp Utopia's six causalities were represented by Cpl. Colin Fleiger. who was stationed there in 1945. Cpl. Jessie Nason, a former Pennfield Ridge Veteran, laid a wreath on behalf of the RCAF (Woman's Division). In total twenty-four (24) wreaths and one bouquet of flowers were laid. The flowers were sent by Paddy Hogan, brother of Pennfield Ridge causality Sgt. John Edward ("Jacky") Hogan, RNZAF.
All in all everyone seemed quite pleased with the service.
A newspaper article, entitled "Veterans who served in Pennfield remembered at memorial service", from "The Saint Croix Courier" is here.