Sunday, 3 June 2018

We Remember 4: Private Arthur George Laing (1913-1944)

When you're well and truly bitten by the genealogy bug as I am, you research your extended family's family history. Their parents, aunts, uncles grandparents and back. Arthur George Laing (1913-1944) was the older brother of an aunt by marriage. Artie was a private in the 48th Highlanders of Canada Regiment and was killed in action in the Second World War in Italy.

He had enlisted in Montreal on 22 Mar 1943. Eighteen months later, he died at the age of 31.

Canadian Virtual War Museum
Recently, I was contacted by a volunteer researcher with the 48th Highlanders of Canada Museum, who had found Arthur on my family tree posted on Ancestry. The volunteer is one of a team looking for photographs of all men who served with the Regiment during that war. I had to tell the volunteer that I didn't believe the family had any photograph of Artie.

Canadian Virtual War Museum
But the volunteer went to work, and was able to find a photograph, actually rather quickly. He sent me a link to the Arthur George Laing page on the Canadian Virtual War Museum website where we see a photo of Artie, his headstone and views of the cemetery where he is buried in Italy.

Artie was the middle of three brothers who all served in the Second World War. His two brothers served in the Royal Canadian Navy. His official death date is recorded as 6 Sep 1944, but Artie's mother, May, was only notified by telegram on 12 days later on the 18th that he was missing in action. On 4 Oct, May received formal notification that Artie had been killed in action on 6 Sep 1944. He had been buried the day after the first telegram was sent. In his 24 Oct formal condolence letter to May, Major-General Adjutant General A. E. Walford of the Ministry of National Defence said:
"From official information we have received, your son killed in action against the enemy."
Those war years lacked the immediacy of all the modern communication tools we now take so for granted. Those years must have been a very difficult time for May. In August 1943, Artie's father passed away. At the time, all three of her sons were away from home.

After he died, Artie's mother, May, received a war service gratuity of $176.55. There are no words.

In addition to being commemorated on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial, Arthur George Laing is commemorated in the Second World War Book of Remembrance. The Government of Canada has seven books of remembrance for the more than 118,000 Canadians who have died in service to their country since Canada's Confederation in 1867.

You can download and read Arthur's service file here.

I shared all of this information with my cousins, who shared it with their mother, aunt and other cousins. Arthur's two surviving sisters, now aged 96 and 101, were especially grateful to see the photograph of their brother's headstone, which they had never seen.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

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