Saying farewell to "A War Without End"

“A War Without End” has been up since September, and I am finally not startled by the three young men as I walk through the darkened gallery to turn on the lights. In fact, I enjoy their presence, and I will miss them when they are removed on February 17, to make way for the next exhibit.

War Without End promo

The life-size images of (from left) Leonard Bertram, Charles Mitson, and James Knowles Bertram stand at the entrance to the exhibition “A War Without End”.

I have been thinking about these young men and what they endured for a long time. Their experiences are unique and yet quite common in some respects. Any town or city in this country has their own Len, Charlie, or Jamie. But we in Dundas are fortunate that photographs, diaries, letters, medals, maps, and other memorabilia have been preserved — by the Museum and family members — which allow us a very intimate glimpse into the lives of these young men.

We see them go from the comfort of their homes in Dundas through training in Valcartier, Toronto, and finally England before they reach the trenches of France and Belgium. It is amazing to see Charlie Mitson’s snapshots of training and, after the war, of what he saw when he was with the army of occupation. It is startling when you read Jamie’s last letter home and realize that there will be no more.  It is moving to read Len’s carefully chosen words to his parents after surviving the battle of Passchendaele.

Of course, this is not the end for my three young men. Their stories will be preserved in the Museum, so that future generations can learn, understand, and appreciate all they did for their country. And ensure that such a calamity as these three endured will never happen again.

Sandra Kiemele, Archivist
 

The last day to see “A War Without End” is Monday, February 16, 2015 when the Museum is open from 11am to 3pm.