A veteran who died in 1943 while on leave from the army will finally have the correct dates on his headstone. Up until now the headstone of Aircraftman 1st Class Gerald Ward Bradford had read that he had died in 1945, however he had died in 1943.
On Tuesday morning, Larry Miller and Bob Muir, from the Legion Veterans Cemetery committee, dug out the old headstone and laid down the new one in its place.
Miller said it was a member of Bradford’s family that pointed out the error.
“It was brought to our attention that the date was wrong on the headstone,” said Miller.
Miller said he couldn’t initially recall which year Bradford had died, but found an article in the Townsman archive covering the funeral from 1943.
The article states that Bradford was 21 when he was killed in a motorcycle accident near Galloway, while returning to his RCAF base at Macleod.
Bradford was accorded a military funeral, with firing party and sounding of “Last Post.” There was a military escort of 16 men from the Second Battalion Rocky Mountain Rangers at the funeral conducted by Rev. Canon F. V. Harrison.
Miller said he wasn’t sure how the error of dates occurred.
“I don’t know how they got the wrong information, it’s so many years ago now,” he said.
Bradford’s headstone qualified for the the Last Post Fund, which covers the gravestones of deceased veterans.
Once an application goes in to the Last Post Fund it can take several months before the stone arrives. In this case, Miller said it took four months. It arrived on Monday, so on Tuesday Miller and Muir went out to replace the old headstone with the new one.
And since the Conservative government cut back on offices — there are only two in Canada, one in Surrey and one in Halifax, the wait time will likely increase.
“We used to have one in Edmonton and there used to be one in Winnipeg and different places,” he said. “They cut all the rest off.”
The committee has put a lot of work into the veteran cemetery — including getting 30 headstones for formerly unmarked veteran graves.
“And there were over 100 that we straightened up, re-lined and re-set up,” he said. “We just utterly went through this whole cemetery here and have redone it. It was in a state of disrepair for years.”
They also redid the sprinkler system to get the water running properly.
They both agreed it is in good shape now, and the city has taken over the land work, such as mowing.