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“Remembering My Brother” A faded drawing created in November, 1917 lies with a few treasured keepsakes of World War I and serves to remind later generations of the family that one who served made the ultimate sacrifice. Names are engraved on tombstones, monuments, and memorials to be remembered; but a single drawing by a brother brings home the harsh reality of war and provides only not a reason to remember but also a reason to ponder. In some ways the drawing is straight forward, in other ways it causes one ask questions for which no answer can be found. The answers lost in the mist of time. Alfred Joseph Muise was a young boy who served with the 25th Battalion in France. He departed for the front lines on July 20, 1916 and served in the front lines for six months before the assault on Vimy Ridge. He was killed in action on April 29, 1917 during an assault to secure the south eastern flank of Vimy toward the town of Arleux-en-Gohelle. He would have no grave site, only a name forever memorialised, together with many other names, on the towering Monument that sits today on Vimy Ridge. Four brothers from the Muise family in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia would serve their country, Alfred Joseph, James (Jimmy) William, George Stanley, and John Arthur. John Arthur also served with the 25th Battalion and the drawing is believed to have been created by him days before the Battle at Passchendaele. The cross in the drawing gives shows the names a L/Corp A J Meuse. Alfred had deliberately enlisted as ‘Meuse’ at St. John, New Brunswick and had given the year of his birth to make him ‘officially’ 18 years of age. He was seventeen. The cross gives the date of death as ‘9-5-17’ although Alfred was killed in action on April 29, 1917. Why is the date wrong? Perhaps the answer lies in when Arthur learned of his brother’s death. The family was notified of Alfred’s death by telegram on May 16, 1917. Arthur may have learned of his brother’s death in early May and used that date on the cross. This will always remain one of the unanswered questions. Still more perplexing is when and where the drawing was made. At the bottom right hand corner is the date of 11 1, 1917. At that time Arthur would have been near Ypres where his Battalion preparing for the assault at Passchendaele. The deaths and injuries were horrific and one can imagine a brother sitting quietly and pondering an earlier tragedy of death and the loss of a younger brother. The background is prophetic as there appears in the distance a tower that resembles the Vimy Monument. And yet, at that time the Monument did not exist. The Vimy Monument was only unveiled on July 26, 1936. Perhaps the background was of the destruction near Ypres. Regardless, it would be the Vimy Memorial that would ultimately list the name of his brother; there would be no grave site and no cross. As we remember those who gave their lives in WWI, it is important and well worth recalling is that a brother remembered and the drawing serves as a treasured remembrance to the Muise family of a young boy who gave his life in the service of his country.
“Remembering My Brother”