Mrs. Kate Palmer’s Walk

Standing in the footsteps of Kate Palmer. At her son’s grave, Woods Cemetery. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Standing in the footsteps of Kate Palmer. At her son’s grave, Private Roy Palmer, Woods Military Cemetery, Belgium.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Thread Seven

1922 – Kate Palmer of Victoria, B.C. journeyed to Belgium to visit her son’s grave at Woods Military Cemetery, south of Ypres.

Today, 11 August 2018, we retrace Mrs. Palmer’s path and decide to walk from Ypres to the grave-site of Roy Palmer, located some five miles south of the city. It is a wooded area and a place I have visited before. Mrs. Palmer’s journey came to me when recently researching through the pages of Victoria’s Daily Colonist newspaper, “widow of Deputy-Chief of Police returns from Ypres, where she visited her son’s grave, which she found well cared for by Belgians…Woods Military Cemetery, Zillebeke, killed in action at Sanctuary Wood Jun 3, 1916.” (Daily Colonist, 1922-09-03, p.5)

As we find our way I re-visit a demarcation stone that I regularly photograph, and also return to both Spoilbank and Chester Farm Cemeteries. Nearby, horses tug at the grass across the road from a farmer’s field where, over the years, the fragments of war routinely appear. They are part of the crimson that lies and grows here – iron and poppies.

As I approach Roy Palmer’s grave I can only wonder of Mrs. Kate Palmer’s footsteps. Could she hear her own heartbeat? Was she alone? How did she get here and from where exactly did she come from? Have I passed by her place of stay in Ypres and, as I stand before the marker, have her tears graced this soil? I am here today standing within her footsteps, the moment is not lost upon me. Across the fields the towers of Ypres rise above the horizon.

I remain a while, standing alongside the graves of seven other members of the 8th Battalion CEF (Roy’s comrades), knowing too that another message, from Kate, appeared in the Daily Colonist, “In ever loving memory of Roy, eldest and dearly beloved son of Kate and late Thomas Palmer, Deputy Chief of Police, KIA Jun 3, 1916 at Ypres, also all his dear comrades.” (Daily Colonist 1923-06-03)

Side by Side

881 Sgt. J. Nicholas (3 June 1916)
622680 Pte. R.W. Reynolds (2 June 1916)
A/22682 Pte. P.M. Stevens (3 June 1916)
150128 Pte. T. Jackson (3 June 1916)
150093 Pte. E.F. Gower (2 June 1916)
17269 Pte. R. Palmer (3 June 1916)
A/22772 Pte. F.W. Ridley (4 June 1916)
460813 Lt. A.J. Hill (4 June 1916)

Side by side...comrades of Roy Palmer lie together at Woods Cemetery. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Side by side…comrades of Roy Palmer lie together at Woods Military  Cemetery. With one other from an English regiment.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Published on the square, Ieper (Ypres), 11 August 2018


About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


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