June 4 – Second World War artifacts once forgotten about many years ago were recently discovered. And soon, items featuring two best friends will be on display at the Waterford Heritage Agricultural Museum.
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Holland, two Norfolk soldiers of particular interest – best friends Corp. Carman Farr and Flight Officer Robert Stuart will be part of a special pop-up exhibit. The duo grew up on adjacent farms north of Renton, becoming best friends before enlisting in the Canadian forces.
Their articles were packed away in a suitcase and forgotten about decades ago, only to be rediscovered in recent years.
“We’re incredibly honoured to be able to exhibit this important collection of Norfolk’s military history – particularly during the 75th anniversaries of both the Liberation of Holland and D-Day,” said James Christison, the museum’s curator. “The suitcase, forgotten about for decades, is filled with pictures, souvenirs, and military artifacts, telling a remarkable story about two best friends and their sacrifices during the Second World War – one returned home, the other did not.”
Farr enlisted on Aug. 1, 1942 and served in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Continental Europe. He was involved with the Liberation while serving from 1942 to 1946 with the occupation forces. He was with the 17th Duke of York’s Royal Canadian Hussars. His wife Hazel McLain was a well-known school teacher in Simcoe. She also spent many hours volunteering within the community.
In one letter home, Farr wrote, “I’m not doing too badly so far. I have been living very comfortably considering that we are constantly on the move and being shelled and machine-gunned from the air the odd time.”
After joining the Royal Canadian Air Force, Stuart had important matters to attend to before heading into battle – he wished to marry Hazel’s sister Eudene McLain. Frightened Stuart wouldn’t make it back to Canada, she declined. After Stuart had left, she changed her mind and took an overnight train to Ottawa to meet Robert. She arrived the next morning, bought her wedding dress, and the two married that afternoon. They honeymooned in Nova Scotia before Robert boarded a boat for England in Jan. of 1942. Robert waved goodbye to his new bride in Jan. of 1942, she would never see him again.
Stuart went on to fly 26 missions as a Wireless Air Gunner on a Lancaster Bomber. He was already planning a month sabbatical of sorts when their Lancaster was grounded for repair. The crew did a training run in a Halifax Bomber but were all killed, except the trailgunner who was not onboard, upon take off.
The exhibit will open June 6.