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Kingston nurse finds story of grandmother’s old flame

Sat Jun 06, 2015 6:16 pm

Kingston nurse finds story of grandmother’s old flame who died on D-Day

Annette Long found documents about the romance and Albert Kennedy’s death in her Grandma’s memory box on Remembrance Day, 2013

By: Eric Andrew-Gee Staff Reporter, Published on Sat Jun 06 2015

In the old black-and-white photo, his arm is wrapped around her. They’re wearing going out clothes, posing on her lawn in Mimico — more than seventy years later, no one remembers why.

It’s 1941, so Albert is dressed in a baggy double-breasted suit. Lillian’s hair is curled and her blazer has wide lapels. Their expressions are tentative, but their bodies, pressing close, are full of affection.

This seems to be the last surviving image of Albert and Lillian. Within a year, he would be enlisted in the military. On June 6, 1944, he was bound for Juno Beach in a landing craft.

That was his last mission. Albert died of bullet wounds on D-Day, clutching his Bren gun.

His story has only recently been pieced together by an unlikely detective: Lillian’s granddaughter, Annette Long.

On Remembrance Day, 2013, Long was thinking about the war, thinking about sacrifice. She remembered hearing vaguely about a boyfriend of her grandmother’s who was killed at Juno Beach. It wasn’t something that people talked about much, but there it was.

Lillian Davidson died in 2002, but the family still had her memory box, a compendium of a long, happy life — including more than five decades with her beloved husband Ruthbert.

But the box contained details of the rarely-mentioned tragedy that defined her early life. There was the photo of that date in 1941. And a telegraph from Albert to Lillian from overseas: “ALL WELL AND SAFE. YOU ARE MORE THAN EVER IN MY THOUGHTS AT THIS TIME DARLING.”

The trove also contained Albert’s copy of the letter Dwight Eisenhower sent to the Allied expeditionary force on June 5. “The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving peoples everywhere march with you,” it reads.

The next item is a military telegram to William Kennedy, Albert’s father, saying the young soldier was MIA. And then another telegram, confirming the dreaded news: Albert had been killed in action on D-Day.

Long, a Kingston nurse, decided she had to find out as much about her grandmother’s first love as she could.

For the past 18 months, Long has been on a research binge, including a visit last year to Albert’s gravestone in France.

She also managed to contact a few of his old Army buddies, and one member of the Kennedy family, a niece living in Calgary.

The man who could have been her grandfather, the Mimico boy who wasn’t allowed to grow up, had captured her imagination.

“I thought about the potential that Albert had, and all the other young men that died…I worried that no one else was thinking about him.”

This year, on the 71st anniversary of D-Day, she’ll be thinking about him.

Posted in the Toronto Star:
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/06 ... d-day.html
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