New Waterford remembers the last WWII veteran

NEW WATERFORD, NS – As the wind blew gusts of crisp leaves around the New Waterford Cenotaph on a cold November morning, this community remembered its veterans and war dead, including a special vet who died on Saturday.

Marshall Thomas (Duffy) Desveaux reached his 100th birthday in March. Most people probably didn’t know much about him except that he was a former mailman, a gifted coach, and a sports fan. But for those who gathered at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 15 Allan MacDonald Memorial Thursday, Desveaux was also a local sports hero, loving father and the community’s last surviving WWII veteran.

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Marshal Desveaux is represented as a young soldier of the Second World War. CONTRIBUTED

Desveaux’s death is a big blow to the community, said Frank Corbett, branch 15 president.

“It tells you how far away you are when you see the last member of this community who was in this war has passed away,” Corbett said. “We know we have a duty to keep these memories alive… that doesn’t mean we have to glorify war or anything… it just tells you about the ordinary people who went to serve their community and their country and what they are. they did and they came back and lived what we would call very ordinary but great lives.

Marshall Desveaux, also known as Duffy, is pictured in his later years. CONTRIBUTED

Gaye Desveaux, the son of Marshal Desveaux, said his father never spoke of his service during World War II.

“Never, very rarely – I find a lot of veterans are the same way. They just didn’t want to talk about it and we never pushed him to do it.

However, Elder Desveaux would never miss a Remembrance Day ceremony.

From left to right, New Waterford Sea Cadet Tristan Kehoe accompanies Anne Lasovski, President of Army, Navy and Air Force Unit 217 to the New Waterford Cenotaph, where she laid a wreath Thursday during Remembrance Day services while New Waterford Sea Cadets Julia Doucette and Makayla Boutilier hold the Canadian and Legion flags.  ELIZABETH PATTERSON • CAPE BRETON POST
From left to right, New Waterford Sea Cadet Tristan Kehoe accompanies Anne Lasovski, President of Army, Navy and Air Force Unit 217 to the New Waterford Cenotaph, where she laid a wreath Thursday during Remembrance Day services while New Waterford Sea Cadets Julia Doucette and Makayla Boutilier hold the Canadian and Legion flags. ELIZABETH PATTERSON • CAPE BRETON POST

“He would come every year and he would stand out there out of the cold – but he would always be there. He never missed it. Never missed. And then when it was at the BEC, he was always there in the front row.

“He was the last.

Veteran Tom White was among those who laid wreaths and remembered during Remembrance Day services in New Waterford on Thursday.  - Elizabeth Patterson
Veteran Tom White was among those who laid wreaths and remembered during Remembrance Day services in New Waterford on Thursday. – Elizabeth Patterson

Tom White knew Marshal Desveaux well and although Desveaux never mentioned his war service, White was very happy to do so for him.

“Marshall should be called Sir Marshall because he was knighted by France – he received the French Legion of Honor medal, Knights of the Cross Swords of France, so he was knighted by France” , White said.

“Marshall would do anything for anyone – he was a great boy. “

Anne Lasovski is President of the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans Unit 217 in Canada.  - Elizabeth Patterson
Anne Lasovski is President of the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans Unit 217 in Canada. – Elizabeth Patterson

Anne Lasovski, president of the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans Unit 217 in Canada, remembered Desveaux as a “lovely man” and said he will be missed.

“Marshall has been to a lot of events every year so missing this one is a big heartbreak,” she said.

Marshal Desveaux was woken up Thursday evening and the funeral celebration mass takes place Friday at 11 a.m. in the parish church of Saint-Léonard, avenue du Mont Carmel, with Fr. Peter McLeod officiating.

Now more than ever it is important to remember those who fought for this country, Corbett said.

“Now is the time to truly reflect what the war has done to this country and to those who have served.”

Elizabeth Patterson is a culture and health reporter for the Cape Breton Post.


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