Lawrna Myers and Gilda Koenig : The Pleasant Valley cemetery project
What Lawrna Myers initially thought was a "one-off" turned into a 10-years-and-counting research project at the Pleasant Valley cemetery in Vernon, BC.
The first Lost Veterans case that came to her attention was that of Captain John Warren-Davis, who was a member of the Welsh regiment in WW1. At the time, Lawrna was volunteering for the Vernon & District Family History Society when a family member of Warren-Davis, likely doing some genealogical sleuthing, contacted her in the winter of 2010 asking whether there was a grave marker on his gravesite. His mysterious death – which sadly, turned out to be by suicide – had left a widow and two children back home in Wales.
Lawrna did some research and found that he was in an unmarked grave. She contacted the Last Post Fund, who arranged for a military marker to be installed. And thus began what was to be a slow and steady project involving 56 headstones installed since then, with an additional 21 approved and awaiting installation, and another 26 pending cases.
Throughout the years, Lawrna’s main contact with the Last Post Fund has been with Senior Counsellor Tara Muia, whom she describes as "always very helpful". Lawrna is now at ease with accessing Veterans records kept by the Legion, WW1 records kept by Library & Archives Canada, Vernon & District Family History Society obituaries, BC government archives, and Ancestry.com for Commonwealth records.
Asked if she has any advice to give to other volunteers interested in participating in the Lost Veterans Initiative, she says it’s important to always double check with the cemetery to make absolutely sure there is not already a marker in place (ideally by going there yourself)!
According to Lawrna, the work is “a rewarding thing to do” and her only motivation is to do right by those who served their country to protect future generations – those future generations are us.
Field Notes is a newsletter dedicated to highlighting the work of Last Post Fund volunteer researchers contributing to the Lost Veterans Initiative. If you are interested in finding out more about the Initiative, please contact Last Post Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling: 1-800-465-7113.