A Recently Placed Grave Marker at Eel Ground First Nations in NB Highlights the Importance of Perseverance
Pictured at the event are friends and family of Veteran Elmer Patles, along with Eel Ground Elder Reginald Ginnish (in the red shirt) and RCL Service Officer Robert Williams (standing centre), attending the ceremony for the placement of grave markers for Eel Ground First Nation Veterans. (photo courtesy Vicky Ginnish)
This story began when the family of Elmer Patles, a Mi'kmaq veteran of the Korean War, first petitioned the Last Post Fund for a grave marker for Elmer. Although his family members insisted that he was a Korean War Veteran, and presented photos of him in uniform to prove it, no military records could be traced confirming Patles’ service. In the absence of military records, the LPF cannot authorize the expenditure of a grave marker. The family turned to Eel Ground Elder Reginald Ginnish and Service Officer Bob Williams of the Royal Canadian Legion Miramichi to help them track down the missing service number.
Ginnish began asking around, and eventually tracked down Patles’ service number thanks to assistance from a librarian named Jennifer in Chatham, NB, who contacted the Black Watch Battalion. Our Last Post Fund counsellors used this service number to perform a search – and the error was discovered! It turns out that a slip-up on the part of the record-keepers had his name registered as ‘Pattes’ rather than ‘Patles’, which explains why no records had initially been found and the grave had remained unmarked. Elmer Patles was indeed a Lance Corporal in the Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment, and a Veteran of the Korean War.
The family was very pleased to finally see a grave marker installed last month at Eel Ground First Nation. The ceremony, which took place on July 6, also included the installation of a marker for another Veteran from the community, Joseph Sappey, an artilleryman with the Expeditionary Force in WW1.
The moral of the story is to remember that we all make mistakes! If one line of questioning leads to a dead end: try, try again!
Our warm thanks and appreciation to Eel Ground Elder Reginald Ginnish and RCL Service Officer Bob Williams, as well as New Brunswick Legion Branches 10 (Miramichi) and 90 (N.W. Miramichi) for seeing this research project through and allowing us to commemorate these deserving Veterans.