Brantford, Ontario is marking the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice with street-pole banners remembering twenty soldiers who served their country in the First World War. I’m very pleased to report that Private Thomas S. Shearman was chosen to be honoured in this way.
Thomas was born in Brantford in 1895 and moved to Vancouver in the early 1900s. In 1916 he enlisted with the 196th (Western Universities) Battalion and was serving with the 46th (South Saskatchewan) Battalion when he was wounded at Vimy. He was evacuated to England but died at the Royd’s Hall War Hospital on April 27th, one of many young men with a promising future whose life was cut short on the battlefields of France and Flanders. I wrote of Thomas’s brief life in an article in April 2016 and again the following month when I had the opportunity to visit Royd’s Hall School and Thomas’s grave in Huddersfield, England.
Last month I was contacted by Geoffrey Moyer from the Great War Centenary Association in Brantford and was happy to provide them with a high-resolution photograph for use on a banner. Over the weekend Geoffrey very kindly forwarded me with these wonderful photographs which I’m sharing with you today. I’m told that the building opposite the street-pole was the very first Great War Veterans Association building opened in 1917. I’d like to thank Geoffrey and the GWCA for giving me the opportunity to play a part in remembering Thomas in this way.
It’s only fitting that this article ends with Thomas’s own words. Hanging prominently in the stairwell of Royd’s Hall School is a plaque seen by scores of school children who pass by it every day on their way to class. It’s inscribed with a quote taken from one of Thomas’s last letters he wrote to his mother:
“It matters not how long we live but what kind of life we live.”