Willows honours school’s Second World War dead

Oak Bay elementary school recognizes former students killed in the Second World War

école Willows Elementary principal Wendy Holob holds a plaque featuring the names of former Willows students who died during the Second World War. The plaque was presented during the school’s Remembrance Day services Thursday.

Remembrance Day took on a more personal connection for Willows elementary students this year.

During the school’s Remembrance Day ceremony Thursday, principal Wendy Holob presented a plaque bearing the names of 13 former Willows students killed in the Second World War.

Knowing the men behind the names on the plaque actually went to the same school they do had a real impact on the young students, Holob says.

She told the students, “they sat in the same rooms you’re in, they walked the same halls you walk and they played on the same fields you play on.”

The idea stemmed from a visit to Oak Bay High several years ago. Holob saw a plaque commemorating those who had attended the school and later died in the war.

Thinking some of those students must have also attended Willows, a chat with friend and Greater Victoria School District archivist Judi Stevenson led to a larger project.

Over 18 months, Stevenson tracked down those who died during the Second World War for each of the schools in SD61, along with a variety of information for each one, not only their name, but also information such as  their parents, siblings, schools, where they died and where they are buried, for example.

Holob then took the 13 verified names of those who attended Willows and had them mounted on the plaque to hang in the school.

Included on the plaque are: Ian McDonnell Sutherland-Brown; William Beaumont Brown; Geoffry Byatt; George Henry Corbert; George Scott Fraser Coulson; Vernon Beverley Gilson; Daniel Macfarlane McLeod Reid; Peter James Arnold Huke Palin; Thomas James McIntyre; Leighton M. Manning; John Blandford Latta; John Duncan Ward; and Ernest William Scroggs.

“It made the connection I wanted it to make,” Holob said after the ceremony.

“I think we have to make this more real,” she says, noting “It’s one of the reasons we invite Oak Bay Lodge each year.

“It’s very difficult for little people to remember because they remember what they have experienced and none of them has experienced anything like this.”

Mayor Nils Jensen was moved by the presentation.

“I thought that was a very thoughtful way to commemorate those who had lost their lives,” Jensen said.

Honour roll

Willows elementary has honoured 13 former students with a memorial plaque recognizing those killed in the Second World War. Eleven other veterans have also been identified as living in the area, and the school seeks the public’s help in confirming if they, too, were Willows students:

Thomas Morley Baker, 2355 Heron St.

• Maurice Michael Bedham, 1557 Yale St.

• Frederick Sidney Button, 1600 Hampshire Ave.

• James Anthony Cornwall, 2275 Oak Bay Ave.

• Henry Reginald Coventry and Robert George Coventry, Jackson Avenue

• Arthur Creedon Harness, 1777 Hampshire Ave.

• George Frederick Parker, 1720 Hampshire ave.

•  Peter James A.H. Palin, 1729 Hampshire Ave.

• Roy Pattinson, 2228 Oak Bay Ave.

• Raymond Ben Walls, 1616 Hampshire Ave.

Anyone with information is asked to call the school at 250-592-2486 email principal Wendy Holob directly at wholob@sd61.bc.ca.