Jack Graham “pretty near fell over” when he laid eyes on the newspaper yesterday. There on the front page was a photograph of his older brother who died 60 years ago.
“How did I feel? I guess it's pretty hard to say. I'm a very emotional man myself and when I saw that picture it really brought back good memories, and bad memories along with them. But I was so pleased and so proud to see that picture there, that somebody is remembering him besides me,” he said.
Mr. Graham's brother, William Richard Graham, was killed during the Second World War on March 2, 1945. Just over two months later, Germany surrendered and V-E Day was declared on May 8. His story, along with excerpts of his last letters to his wife Doodie, was featured in The Globe and Mail yesterday.
Jack Graham, who spent most of yesterday in tears, has never read the letters and did not know members of Doodie's side of the family had recently discovered William's steamer trunk, which contained his wartime personal effects. He also did not know Doodie died in the mid-1990s.
Mr. Graham and his family plan to contact Todd Taylor, William's great-nephew, who has the trunk and is trying to learn more about the man his family did not know well.
“I think it's amazing to meet the other side of the family and let them know this is still around,” Mr. Taylor said. “Here they are opening a new chapter on something that got lost 60 years ago.”
William Graham married Doodie, who was his friend's sister, during a wartime posting back in Canada to train to become an officer. After they wed and Doodie gave birth to baby Susan, he returned to England.
Both sides of the family are keen to locate Susan, a divorced mother of two who is believed to be living somewhere in Eastern Canada and has lost contact with the family. Mr. Graham still carries in his glove compartment a letter to Susan — his only link to his brother — from another relative that was returned to sender, address unknown.
“We would love to be able to find Susan,” said Mr. Graham's daughter, Marsha Guthrie. “Hopefully we can maybe put some pieces together.”
All three Graham boys enlisted in the service, and only Jack, who spent almost three years as a prisoner of war, returned alive.