FAMILY TIES

Military history, past and present, shows it’s a small world

Posted March 23, 2014, at 11:43 a.m.
Last modified March 23, 2014, at 2:42 p.m.

Injured by rifle grenade in Belgium on Feb. 13, 1916, Maj. Warren Herbert Belyea, second in command of the 26th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, returned to battle on March 9, 1916. Eleven days later, he was “mortally wounded by a high-explosive shell at Watsonville” in the Battle of Kimmel Hill and died.

According to the regimental history of the 73rd Northumberland Regiment, “his burial took place at Locre the following day with Lt. Gen. A.E.H. Alderson, Maj. Gen. R.E.W. Turner and Brig. Gen. D. Watson in attendance.”

After the end of World War I, “the Commonwealth War Graves Commission moved him to the cemetery called Loker Churchyard in Vlaanderen, Belgium.”

I grew interested in Maj. Belyea when I received by email a copy of a photo taken of him with Maj. A.E.G. Mackenzie and Maj. D.D. McArthur on Sept. 15, 1915, the day their battalion left Canada for France. As it happens, Mackenzie was killed in action in 1916, while McArthur was “invalided home” in early 1917.

Belyea was “my Canadian grandfather’s brother,” wrote Mike Gleason, who added that his mother’s only brother was named for Belyea upon his birth, 21 months after the major was killed.

According to his In Memoriam, Maj. Belyea was “killed in action March 20, 1916, in fighting for King and Country upon the Battle Fields of Flanders.”

He had been commander of the Newcastle company, C Company, of the Northumberland Regiment, Gleason explained.

I find it fascinating that some of Belyea’s words were preserved, including a portion of a letter he wrote to his pastor, the Rev. M.S. Richardson, just three days after leaving New Brunswick in 1915.

“The people of Newcastle have shown me so many kindnesses,” he wrote, “that the greatest happiness I can look forward to, is my return to my native town, if I am spared, and to my family. In my case, whatever befalls me, I trust that neither my family nor townspeople will ever have cause to feel ashamed of me.”

In 1914, the headquarters of the 73rd Northumberland Regiment was in Chatham, which is now part of Miramichi City in New Brunswick. CFB Chatham became home to the 416th AWS, Royal Canadian Air Force, which flew the CF-101B Voodoo, a jet fighter.

If you have been on the Bangor Air National Guard Base at Bangor International Airport during the past quarter-century, you have seen a Voodoo fighter on a pedestal just past the entrance to the base.

The recruiter who was instrumental in helping get the airframe of the Voodoo for display by the 101st Air Refueling Wing of the Maine Air National Guard was Mike Gleason of Bangor.

And yes, it turns out that the plane came from Chatham. What a small world.

Gleason has researched his Canadian relatives at collectionscanada.gc.ca. He also has learned more by seeking out information on the military units where his relative served, including the history of the 73rd Northumberland Regiment.

Many of our military ancestors and relatives may not be as prominent as Belyea, but we also can add to our family history by pursuing history of regiments, battalions, ships, airplanes, helicopters, geography, muster rolls and bases.

The Maine Historical Society and the Maine Genealogical Society will sponsor a spring workshop with Maureen Taylor, “The Photo Detective,” 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at the Augusta Elks Club, 397 Civic Center Drive, Augusta.

The cost, including lunch, is $40 for Maine Genealogical Society members, $50 for nonmembers. To register, visit http://conference.maineroots.org, or send registration to Maine Genealogical Society, Celeste Hyer, 69 Loop Road, Otisfield, ME 04270.

The actual program starts at 9:30 a.m., so you don’t have to be at the workshop site at 8 a.m.

My husband and I had a great time attending the March 8 talk by Dona Saucier on the upcoming World Acadian Congress 2014, with more than 120 family reunions and countless other activities scheduled for Aug. 8-24 in northern Maine and portions of New Brunswick and Quebec.

Most of the reunions are connected to Acadian ancestors who came first to Nova Scotia, or French-Canadian ancestors who first settled in Quebec. To learn more, visit http://cma2014.com.

I can tell you that a Saucier family reunion has been scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 10, in Wallagrass, not far from Fort Kent. The reunion is early in the planning stages, but I will be giving a talk on Franco-American genealogy. While there isn’t time to write a book on the Saucier family, I’m hoping that people with Saucier ancestry will send along information on their line to familyti@bangordailynews.com, or mail it to Family Ties here at the BDN.

For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402, or email familyti@bangordailynews.com.

 

CORRECTION:

An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the website http://cma2014.org. It is http://cma2014.com.

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