World War I ended on November 11, 1918 but organizing the transport of thousands of soldiers back home to Canada took months. The Canadian soldiers spent their Christmas overseas but they were given designed 1918 Christmas cards to send home to their families. Read more here.
During the years of the First World War (1914 -1918) when the soldiers had to spend Christmas far from home, separated from their families and friends, Christmas cards were important reminders that there was life outside the trenches and outside of the war. Here are a few sent by Hugh Wright. Read more here.
On May 19th, 2018 the exhibit “County of Heroes” opened to the public at our Albert County Museum. The event was well received and was covered by media outlets.
About a month later I received a call from a very pleasant lady from Ontario informing me that she was a descendant of Pte. Joyce. She went on to tell me she saw a television report about the County of Heroes and realized that she had some personal belongings of Pte. Joyce that she received from her great uncle. She graciously donated them to the museum and I received them a few weeks later.
As I was examining the many letters and artifacts, I came upon a very touching letter from Joyce’s commanding officer informing her of how her son died in battle on August 28, 1918. I almost fell off my chair when I realized that the 100th anniversary of Harold George Joyce paying the ultimate sacrifice for his country was only a few days away. So I issued a press release and, in a very short period of time, received a call from CBC television and radio. The CBC did a very nice tribute to a Pte. Joyce and treated the story with the compassion and dignity of the return, if only of possessions, of a native of New Brunswick and a son of Albert County.
But Harold’s story continues. Last week I received a visit from 10 of Harold Joyce’s decedents who live throughout the province. All converging unannounced to observe first hand the memorabilia that was now in the museum’s possession. I was honoured to unveil the artifacts and it was a very heartfelt emotional time when I read the letter that Harold’s mother received over 100 years ago. They all received a tour of the County of Heroes exhibit and they were very thankful that the Albert County Historical Society took on the challenge of building such a memorial to the fallen sons of Albert County. The only part that was of concern was the picture we have of Harold; that it is not of very good quality. I explained that during the days leading up to the opening of the exhibit, we were missing 6 pictures. Pte. Joyce being one of them. And how, on the day before we opened to the public, we found the picture that is on display, by chance, on the internet. Mrs. Carol Plume of Petitcodiac made the comment “We’ll have to do something about that.”
So yesterday I received a package in the mail, with Mrs. Plume’s return address on it. And sure enough, as I opened it Pte. Harold George Joyce jumped out to see me again. Once again I was privileged to look through pictures, his battalion badges and even a small arms ammunition belt. And two proud pictures, one as a civilian and one in full military dress with rifle. And again, I was thankful for the sacrifice of Pte. Joyce and all who fell with him over 100 years ago. Even more, I’m amazed at the the kindness of strangers and the in awe of the close ties of Harold’s family. And, of course, bewildered that Pte. Harold George Joyce, who was killed in action just over 100 years ago; Pte. Joyce who has no official burial site in France; that somehow, Harold Joyce has returned to his home in Hopewell Cape, NB.