Vera Kameda-Lacroix was our Remembrance Day speaker giving us the history of her grandfather Kenneth Austin who served in both the first and second world wars.
She brought with her a treasure trove of clothing, pictures, and letters relating to her grandfather’s first world war efforts
Ken Austin was born in Lochlin, Haliburton County on August 10th, 1898. He received his education there. He was the fourth child and second son of the Austin family. His mother had passed away in 1913. The excitement of the Great War was the biggest influence to him as a teenager.
His attestation papers show that he took his oath to become a member, number 724.256 of Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force on September 2, 1915. He had adjusted his birth date to 1897 and so actually was just 17 at the time of enlisting with the 45th Victoria Regiment of Haliburton. After his initial training, he served with the 109 Battalion and the 19th Battalion C .E .F. on Vimy Ridge on scout patrol in France.
Kameda-Lacroix shared a number of interesting entries from his WW1 diary. His diary begins with this entry on Oct. 1, 1917:
"At Neuville St.Vaast, a bath parade. I feel much better. W(weather) clear & fine. Tues. Oct 2. M.S.G. ( Machine Gun Unit) leave for F.L. at night – Vimy Ridge  over land and the “wire under foot” moonlight and Hunys M.N. (machine gun) fire. A wander along the wire with Squibb. Weather fine & moonlight."
His only lasting injury during the war was a shrapnel injury which left him blind in one eye.
During WW2. He was a very successful Recruitment Officer for the Region and then ran a Prisoner of War Camp at Curtis, Manitoba. His family moved to Winnipeg to be closer to him during that time. Often he brought his prisoners into Winnipeg for medical reasons and then had them over to their home for a visit before returning to the camp. Post War he had the opportunity to escort prisoners to their return trips overseas.​
His many documents, artifacts, and remembrances are continually being discovered by family members. The intention is to digitize it all so that it can be shared with the family. The Dryden Museum has expressed interest in it for their collection. Some keepsakes from WW1 are his kilt and beret  of the 48th Highlanders for which he volunteered while in England, after recovering from the mumps​, WW1 helmet, many pictures, active service pay book, overseas Diary 1917-1918. One of his many uniforms is already at the Museum.
Ken finished his career as a business partner with his son Don in Austin & Austin Realty. He lived long enough to proudly be the head of five generations with Great Great Grandchildren. Upon Jean’s death in 1988, they had been married 66 years.
Ken Gordon Austin died on December 14, 1989 at the age of 91,leaving behind quite a storied legacy for his family to absorb.
The family have a large collection of his poems. One found in his WW1 diary seems appropriate for this story during the 100th Anniversary of that war was:
Sleep Soldier Sleep
In memory of my Brother -in-law Re.No.408021 Pte John Bond,13th Btn
Royal Highlands of Canada who died of wounds in Belgium May 16,1916
O’er thy grave in fair Belgium
Love stands on guard
Through the long hours of the night.
Honour stands guard
Through the heat of the noon day.
You have died for your god  & the right
Millions will kneel
In deep prayer for the heroes.
Giving their lives for
Humanities sake
“Sleep soldier sleep”
Thou hast died for thy brother
“sleep”,till God’s Reveillie
Bids thee Awake.