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Home turned museum

Neil Connors has been collecting wartime memorabilia for 30 years. This collection pays tribute to fallen Newfoundlanders at Beaumont Hamel.
Neil Connors has been collecting wartime memorabilia for 30 years. This collection pays tribute to fallen Newfoundlanders at Beaumont Hamel.

Neil Connors remembers.

The resident of Grand Falls-Windsor remembers the Newfoundlanders who defended the home front.

He remembers the many more who fought on the front lines in France, Gallipoli, and elsewhere.

His home is a veritable museum of First and Second World War memorabilia, yet Connors has no love of war.

But Connors remembers his fellow Newfoundlanders.

He remembers their sacrifice.

He remembers a nations loss.

Painstakingly arranged under glass, Connors has crafted memorials to veterans lost in the Great Wars.

Whatever feeble remnants of these great men, who gave everything for King and Country remains, Connors will collect and preserve.

 

 

The resident of Grand Falls-Windsor remembers the Newfoundlanders who defended the home front.

He remembers the many more who fought on the front lines in France, Gallipoli, and elsewhere.

His home is a veritable museum of First and Second World War memorabilia, yet Connors has no love of war.

But Connors remembers his fellow Newfoundlanders.

He remembers their sacrifice.

He remembers a nations loss.

Painstakingly arranged under glass, Connors has crafted memorials to veterans lost in the Great Wars.

Whatever feeble remnants of these great men, who gave everything for King and Country remains, Connors will collect and preserve.

 

 

This framed collection shows the Clyde towing a captured German ore freighter into Botwood Harbour. The piece is part of a collection of wartime artifacts and information that adorn the home of Neil Connors of Grand Falls-Windsor.

Firsts

William Robert McNiven is one such soul.

His photograph and medals enshrined, McNiven has no hometown or date of birth listed.

McNiven was one of the first 500 men to give his life in the tragic advance of the Blue Puttees at Beaumont Hamel.

The first of July 1916, the date his life was extinguished, is much easier to discern: a short, typed description of the battle in which he lost his life, the final touch.

Framed and under glass, the memory of his life and sacrifice is maintained on the wall of the staircase in Connors home.

Connors remembers the very first enemy ship captured on this side of the Atlantic during the Second World War.

He remembers it was the residents of Botwood who helped capture the vessel.

He tells a story of the German freighter M.S. Christoph V. Doornum, in port to receive a shipment of ore from the Buchans’ mine.

Fully loaded and awaiting departure for days, the ship had a series of “unexplained technical problems” causing it to remain in port.

When Britain’s ultimatum to Germany ran out on Sept. 3, 1939, Newfoundland, unlike her neighbour Canada, was at war along with the mother country.

On that same day the Newfoundland Constabulary arrived at the wharf in Botwood to take the vessel, and her crew, into custody, ushering Newfoundland, and her men, into the bloodiest conflict in history.

 

Sacrifice

There are too many completed memorials to individually list contained within the walls of Neil Connors home.

There are many more stories hidden amongst the piles of reference material Connor has yet to carefully arrange.

But the medals and memorabilia of war are just objects to Connors.

For him, the true story is the importance of these soldiers’ sacrifices.

The story of these great men is what Connors remembers.

“I’m not for war, I don’t believe in this prideful crap,” Connors told the Advertiser. “Their life is gone. Twenty years old, and I’ve got a dozen of them here. Twenty years old, 18 years old. Newfoundlanders, you know, gone!”

Lest we forget.

Neil Connors will remember.

 

Patrick.murphy@tc.tc

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