Stretch of Townsend Road 11 will be dedicated Sept. 24

A unique memorial to Canadian soldiers who served during the First and Second World War will be dedicated near Villa Nova Sept. 24. That is the day Norfolk County will proclaim a 3.2-kilometre stretch of Townsend Concession 11 as The Rockford Road of Heroes. The section in question extends from Villa Nova Road east to the Haldimand-Norfolk county line. It is special because of the high number of soldiers produced in this neighbourhood in the 20th century. A total of 27 soldiers from the Rockford area served in the two world wars. Eleven made the supreme sacrifice.

“How appropriate is this,” Waterford Coun. Harold Sonnenberg said at Tuesday’s meeting of Norfolk council. “This is amazing. Rockford gave an inordinate number of lives in the two wars. This is just incredible. This is a wonderful way to recognize this hamlet.”

The Rockford Road of Heroes is a project undertaken by Norfolk’s Remembrance Committee. A small plaque featuring a poppy will be added to the 911 signage at the end of driveways along this stretch. A 30-foot flag pole will also be erected on the front lawn of the farm belonging to Neil and Gale Lemery. The Royal Canadian Legion in Waterford will be responsible for its care and upkeep. As well, a sign noting The Rockford Road of Heroes will be added to signage in the hamlet of Rockford.

“(Rockford) could be Anywhere, Norfolk,” Remembrance Committee member Grant Smith told council Tuesday. “What marks it as exceptional are the sheer number of young farmers from the area who literally laid down the plow and volunteered for service.

“You could write a history of Canada at war from the exploits of the Rockford men. Many of the soldiers enlisted in the 133rd Norfolk Battalion in 1916. “From there, they were transferred to battalions in the Royal Montreal Regiment, the Central Ontario Regiment and the 123rd Pioneer Battalion.

“Others were members of the famed Black Watch and the Royal Canadian Dragoons. And in World War II, the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry and the Governor-General’s Horse Guard.

“Amongst them were men who fought and died in Canada’s greatest battles – Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, Passchendaele, Amiens, Canal du Nord, The Battle of the Atlantic and the liberation of Holland. Two of them (Frank Onifrichuk and Bill Feschuk) were there when history was made on June 6, 1944 – the day the allies landed at Normandy’s beaches.”

Other soldiers honoured by The Rockford Road of Heroes include Grant Hall, Max Hall, Bill Baird, Russ Bauslaugh, Allan Herron, Ray Herron, David Grant, David Dickson, F.A. Hawks, Walter French, Alex Angus Sr., Frank Angus, Alex Angus Jr., Jim Buck, Joe Buck, Clair Fearman, Nick Onifrichuk, Frank Onifrichuk, John Wilson, Wilfred Wilson, Hugh Wilson, Patrick Newhouse, Lloyd Anderson, Allan Anderson and George Anderson.

Of the 27, only Bob Onifrichuk, 90, is still living. He enlisted in the Canadian armed forces at the age of 17.  _ SIMCOE REFORMER, SEPT. 14, 2016 –