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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Monday, September 26, 2022
Letter: Impressed by the saga of NOTL’s Capt. Dinwiddie
George Dinwiddie's tombstone.
George Dinwiddie's tombstone. Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Dear editor:

I read with great interest the July 28 instalment of The Monuments Men series in The Lake Report, “Separated by war, Phyllis Dinwiddie followed husband overseas.”

My wife Anne and I had visited the grave of Capt. George Dinwiddie at the Moro River Cemetery in Ortona, Italy, in October of 2021.

We both have a keen interest in the Canadian Armed Forces’ history as each of us had grandfathers who fought in the First World War and both of our fathers served in the RCAF in the Second World War.

Thankfully, all of our family members returned home safely.

Capt. Dinwiddie’s grave is located in one of the many impressively designed, maintained, dignified and inspiring cemeteries under the aegis of the Commonwealth Graves Commission.

The commission honours and cares for the men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the first and second world wars, ensuring that they will never be forgotten.

Each site throughout Great Britain and Europe is cared for in perpetuity and many are under consideration for World Heritage Site status.

While at first glance the white headstones appear the same, each one is engraved with the soldier’s name, rank, regiment and date of death.

In some cases, there is, added at the bottom, an inscription chosen by the family.

At the entrance to each cemetery is a permanent small kiosk/building with plaques on the outside explaining the nearby battles as well as a book in a small unlocked strong box containing the details of each of those buried in that location – including their hometown.

It was in this book at the Moro River Cemetery that we were delighted to find a person from Niagara-on-the-Lake – Capt. Dinwiddie.

When we returned home, I did find out some information about him but nothing compared to that in the article by Ron Dale.

Of note: we also found a headstone for D. H. Blackman of Niagara Falls, Ont., and have discovered a few facts about him.

We had returned to Ortona last year to make a second attempt at visiting the acclaimed museum of the Battle of Ortona – sadly it appears to be permanently closed due to lack of funding.

Catania on the east coast of Sicily has an excellent museum, which we had visited a few years previously.

Our interest in both wars has led us to grave sites in France, Italy and Sicily. We also visited Juno Beach at the site of the D-day invasion and the Canadian War Museum there.

In 2017, we attended the Vimy Memorial Celebration in France.

Auschwitz/Birkenau were on our itinerary in Poland: it was an impressive and memorable experience and it left us knowing that such atrocities should never again be allowed to occur.

This coming October we plan to visit Monte Casino, although I must say that we not only visit military sites but go to Europe for the history, the archeology, the churches and the food and wine.

We never fail to be humbled by and thankful for all the lives that were sacrificed for our freedom and are so thankful that they are so superbly remembered in the Commonwealth Grave Cemeteries.

John Hopkins
NOTL