Courtesy of Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM)
Lest we forget: Private Robert Lawrence Henry and Private Cyril Ernest Henry are commemorated on pages 333 and 596 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance.
Private Robert Lawrence Henry was born on December 4 1917, the son of Cecil Ernest Henry and Charlotte Edna Payne of Springhill, New Brunswick. His brother, Private Cyril Ernest Henry, was three years older, born on September 6 1914. Their family maintained longstanding ties to St Peter’s Anglican Church, since both Robert and Cyril were great-great-grandsons of George Rex Leek (1787 – 1861) who, with their great-grandfather, William, helped build St. Peter’s Anglican Church in 1838. Robert was 24 years old when he followed in his brother Cyril’s footsteps by enlisting in Fredericton with the Carleton and York Regiment. Cyril had been 26 years old when he enlisted with the same regiment in Fredericton two years earlier.
Robert and Cyril were brothers-in-arms with other Black soldiers from the Fredericton region who served with the Carleton and York Regiment. These included Corporal Arthur William McCarthy (1923 – 1984) of Springhill, New Brunswick, who was also a descendant of George Rex Leek; Bugle Sergeant Seymour Tyler of Lakeville Corner (Sunbury County), who had served with the 2nd Construction Battalion during the First World War; and Sergeant Arthur Wallace Eatman (1920 – 1943), son of James Eatman (veteran of the First World War) and Theresa (“Thursa”) Wright of Maryland Hill (Fredericton). Sergeant Arthur Eatman was killed in action at Agira Italy, during the Battle of Sicily. His soul now rests in the Agira Canadian War Cemetery.
Private Robert Henry served his country in Italy, where, three years after enlisting, he was accidentally killed by an exploding mortar shell near Caserta, Italy, on May 10, 1944. Tragically, his mother, Charlotte, and sister learned of Robert’s death through the existence of a telegram from a callous stranger. On a Saturday afternoon, when the two were on a shopping trip in Fredericton, they were approached by a stranger bearing the heartbreaking news that their son and brother had been killed. Robert’s soul now rests in the Caserta War Cemetery in Italy.
Private Cyril Ernest Henry served his country through the entirety of the Second World War, returning home safely to his wife Ruth when hostilities ended. His soul now rests in the cemetery at St. Peter’s Anglican Church.
Arthur McCarthy, Robert Henry, and Cyril Henry are all commemorated on the Roll of Honour hanging in St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Springhill, New Brunswick.