WARTIME PLAQUE RESCUED AND DONATED TO THE ST. GEORGE LEGION

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At the May 4, 2011 meeting of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 605, a presentation was made of a special plaque.

On hand to make the presentation was Graham Malcolm, of the Malcolm Condensing Company Ltd. family. The long-time landmark dairy, opposite the Old School on Beverly Street East in St. George, is in the process of being demolished.

Also on hand was Tim Nesbitt, from the St. George Volunteer Fire Department, who rescued from the demolition a plaque that had been displayed in the dairy office for years – apparently honouring employees of the company who answered the call to serve their country in the Second World War.

“Our Empire Called – They Served,” reads a heading on the plaque.

Listed below that heading are twelve names (and a spot where one name has evidently gone missing over the years).

Here is a approximation of the list of names (in two columns):

[Left hand column]

L. Wehrstein
Donald Burke
H. Nickerson
Jack Bailey
Erlin Myers
Gilbert Mannen
William Howell

[Right hand column]

Hugh Trendell
Marquis Golden
Russell Mundie
John H. Malcolm
Gordon Lee
[missing name]

Legion branch president, Joe Muldoon, accepted the gift on behalf of Branch 605 and confirmed that it would hang with honour in the front room of the Legion.

John Wehrstein (joined by his wife Joan) shared memories of his father Lloyd Wehrstein, the first name listed on the plaque, with those in attendance.

Lloyd was well known as the village barber up until his retirement in 1985, and his father was the barber before that.

Lloyd worked at Malcolm’s sometime before the war and then joined the RCAF 405 squadron, working as a ground mechanic. John indicated that his father would have liked to have been a pilot, but did not pass the eyesight requirements…

He worked on the Avro Lancaster bombers during the war.

Mr. Wehrstein served for four years, from 1941 – 1945, and then returned to St. George to take over the family business.

John also recalled his father’s good friend Russell Mundie, known as “Duke,” who was Lloyd’s best man at his wedding.

Mr. Malcolm recalled Donald Burke – who lived on Beverly Street and joined the RCAF as a bomber pilot. He remembered that Mr. Burke had married Laurel Paterson, the “girl next door” and also that he had bought the first Studebaker Starlight Coupe in town – baby blue and gorgeous!

Mr. Malcolm also spoke about his father, John H. Malcolm, who joined the army, initially with the 2nd/10th Dragoons from Brantford. He trained at first in Canada at Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia (a tough place to spend a winter) and was promoted to the rank of Captain in Halifax before he shipped over to England. He had further training in England in 1943, but was injured in 1944 when a landing net he and others were climbing let loose as they neared the top – sending them down hard to the shale beach below.

John Malcolm spent approximately two months in hospital following that accident. When he had recovered and was released, he embarked with a driver on a jeep adventure to find his good friend Dudley Brooks and take him a bottle of scotch to share. Dudley would soon after take part in the D-Day landings at Normandy. John survived the War and returned home on the Queen Elizabeth.

There are many more stories behind the names on the plaque. Marquis Golden was known as “Gus.” Gordon Lee had the paint factory in town. Hugh Trendell lived on Beverly Street at the corner of King William.

Mr. Malcolm and John Wehrstein, along with Donna Howell from the Legion, indicated that they would work together to document the stories behind the names on the plaque so that the memories can live on.

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