Category Archives: Stories

Memorial Plaque and Scroll – World War I

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJoseph Benoit Melanson (1898-1918)

Joseph ‘Benoit’ Melanson was killed in action on August 9, 1918 and is buried at the Crouy British Cemetery, Crouy-Sur-Somme, France (Plot: V. D. 8). Benoit was one of 66,665 Canadian military personnel who died in World War I – The War That Will End War (H.G. Wells). Benoit was only 20 years old.

Joseph ‘Benoit’ Melanson was born March 21, 1898, the son of  John C. and Aimée Bourneuf Melanson, of Grosses Coques, Digby Co., Nova Scotia; Benoit, like so many other recruits, was just a lad of seventeen when he enlisted in the Canadian Infantry (Nova Scotia Regiment) – 25th Battalion on December 21, 1915 at the recruiting station in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Until last year, I had never heard of the Memorial Plaque (or Memorial Medallion) which was issued after World War I to the next-of-kin of all British and British Commonwealth service personnel who were killed in action or died as a result of wounds suffered during the war. The Memorial Plaque  continued to be  issued into the 1930s to commemorate people who died as a consequence of the war.

The Memorial Plaque is about 5 inches (120 mm) in diameter and was cast in bronze. It has an image of Britannia holding a trident and standing with a lion; the designer’s initials, E.CR.P., appear above the front paw. In her outstretched left hand, Britannia is holding an oak wreath just above the deceased’s name cast in raised letters. Two dolphins swim around Britannia, symbolizing Britain’s sea power, and at the bottom a second lion is tearing apart the German eagle. The back of the Plaque is blank.

Pictured below is the Memorial Plaque given to the family of Joseph ‘Benoit’ Melanson (with a quarter alongside to give the reader an idea of the size of the plaque). Benoit’s family donated the Plaque to the Clare Branch of the Canadian Legion where it is prominently displayed in their showcase. I am very grateful that the Legion allowed me to handle and photograph it.


Along the outer edge, the legend reads “He died for freedom and honour”, or, for the six hundred plaques issued to commemorate women, “She died for freedom and honour”. The plaques were issued  with a commemorative scroll from King George V. I was not able to locate the scroll for Benoit Melanson but I was able to find one as an example; the one received by Benoit’s family would have been identical but with Benoit’s name inscribed at the bottom.


The Memorial Plaque has also been called the “Dead Man’s Penny”, the “Death Penny”, the “Widow’s Penny” or the “Next of Kin Memorial Plaque”. They were intended to be given to the grieving family “as a solace for bereavement and as a memento”.

Also pictured here is Private Benoit Melanson’s gravemarker in Somme, France and his name in the First World War Book of Remembrance (Page 469).


Benoit Melanson.71369_1                               Benoit Melanson.ww1469

Over time, I would like to commemorate the many individuals of Clare who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the freedom of millions.



I am very grateful to Colleen Fitzpatrick, PhD, forensic genealogist and author, for making me aware of the WWI Memorial Plaque thus sending me on my quest to research families in Clare (Baie-Sainte-Marie) who may have received a Memorial Plaque to commemorate their loved one.

Father Clarence d’Entremont Short Stories

Father Clarence d’Entremont (1909-1998) was an Acadian genealogist and historian, originally from Yarmouth County (Pubnico), an Acadian area of southwestern Nova Scotia.

Among his impressive publications history is this collection of 100 Short Stories published in the Yarmouth Vanguard between 1989 and 1990. I have provided a link to the Musée Acadien website which has the entire collection of Father d’Entremont’s Short Stories. The Musée Acadien is located in West Pubnico and is the home of la Société Historique Acadienne de Pubnico-Ouest, founded in 1973.

Link to Index of all 100 short stories:

Not all stories are specific to Yarmouth County and the Pubnico area – a few stories are based on people and events in Clare (Baie-Sainte-Marie) and Digby County. Links to those are listed here; further down on this post is also a section of links to Short Stories that will appeal to Acadians everywhere.

Links to Short Stories with a Clare (Baie-Sainte-Marie) and Digby County connection

No. 3 “His Father Was His Uncle”

No. 10 “Baptiste, the Rascal”

No.11 “Baptiste Was Said To Have a Wife in Every Port”

No 12 “She Presided Over Councils of War Against Her Kindred”

No. 13 “Napoleon Bucksaw”

No. 19 “Witchcraft, Sorcerers and Spells”

No. 38 “French People Who Settled in Digby County During the French Revolution and Napoleon War”

No. 46 “The Rise and Fall of Louis A. Surette”

No.49 “Capt. Pierre Doucet (1750-1792)”

No.50 “Amable Doucet. Esq. (1737-1806)”

No.53 “The Vow of the Mariners”

No.54 “The Escape of François L. Bourneuf”

No.68 “The Conflagration of 1820 in Clare”

No.75 “Variations in French Family Names in Southwestern Nova Scotia”

No.88 “My First Entrance to College”


Links to Short Stories with general Acadian topics

A number of Father Clarence d’Entremont’s Short Stories will be of general interest to all Acadians.

No. 41 “The 25th Anniversary of the Canadian Flag”

No. 44 “The 465th Anniversary of the Name ‘Acadie'”

No. 47 “The ‘French Cross’ at Morden, Nova Scotia”

No.56 “The Seizure of the Pembroke by the Acadians”

A series of stories about the Acadian Bells:
No.58 “Story of The Acadian Bells: (1) Those of Port Royal”

No.59 “Story of The Acadian Bells: (2) Those of Fortress Louisbourg”

No.60 “Story of The Acadian Bells: (3) The Others of Cape Breton”

No.61 “Story of The Acadian Bells: (4) Those of Minas and the Isthmus of Chignecto”

No.62 “Story of The Acadian Bells: (5) Those of Prince Edward Island”

No.63 “Story of The Acadian Bells: (6) Those on the Saint John River, N.B”

No.64 “Story of The Acadian Bells: (7) Those of Maine, St.-Pierre-et-Miquelon, and California”

No.65 “Story of The Acadian Bells: (8) in Pubnico”

And dispelling another “Acadian Myth”

No.57 “Marie Babin of Surette’s Island Was Not The Last of the Deported”

Suzanne-Henriette Comeau

Suzanne married (at Holy Cross Parish in 1857) Martin Walsh, Senior (Irish, of unknown origin); they lived in Plympton for a few years before moving to the town of Digby. Marin Walsh Sr. and Suzanne Comeau were the parents of Captain Marty Walsh (Welch) who eventually moved to Gloucester and became a hero, both in Digby County and Gloucester, Massachusetts for winning the first ever International Fisherman’s Schooner race (Gloucester to Halifax).

The grandson of Captain Marty Welch has developed a website devoted to the history of Captain Marty Welch’s carreer and his genealogy.

Link to website about Captain Marty Welch’s life: