Piecing It Together for John and Russell Dahmer
In our PIT stop feature, we assemble additional pieces of the puzzle. Readers are able to learn more about the mill, its employees and the Hespeler community at large.
With heavy hearts we inform you that two of our employees were killed in action. John Wesley Dahmer died May 24, 1944 in Italy. Within 48 hours, his brother Russell George Dahmer also gave his life fighting for his country.
We’ve included some of the articles and letters gathered from these truly heartbreaking and tragic events.
To the Dahmer family – know that the Hespeler community mourns with you. 🙁
June 5, 1944
Community Joins in Tribute to Two Dahmer Brothers Who Gave Lives in Italy
Four weeks ago, on Sunday, May 7, the people of Hespeler met in a community service in Forbes park. It was the Sixth Victory Loan campaign.
Yesterday the people of the community again met in a service but there were no bands nor searchlights. The citizens gathered quietly at the United church to pay tribute to two of their neighbors, the late Pte. John W. and Pte. Russell G. Dahmer, sons of Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Dahmer, Galt-Hespeler highway, who had given their lives on the battlefield in Italy.
Filled to Capacity.
The church was filled to capacity with those from all walks of life. Representatives were present from the Dominion Woollens and Worsteds plant, where both had been employed prior to their enlistment, and a party of ex-servicemen represented the Canadian Legion.
The church was arranged with two huge portraits of the men who had made the supreme sacrifice surrounded by wreaths and floral tributes which were banked before the pulpit. At the close of the memorial service the citizens passed quietly before the portrait in tribute to the memory of the two members of the community.
Rev. George Kersey, the pastor, conducted the service and two vocal numbers were included, a solo by Robert Rendall, “Some Day We’ll Understand,” and a solo by W. J. (Tom) Mead, “The Spirit of God.”
In opening the service Mr. Kersey read the two messages which were received by Mr. and Mrs. Dahmer. The first of these dated May 30 told of the death of Pte. John Wesley Dahmer in action on May 24, and the second, dated June 1, told of the death of the younger brother, Pte. Russell George Dahmer, in action on May 26.
In his opening remarks Mr. Kersey mentioned that in the first Great War “this church had two other brothers,” Frank M. and Ernest R. Keffer, who died in action overseas.
The pastor read brief obituary notices for the two brothers, who were born at Reed City, Mich., and came to Canada as boys in their teens. John Wesley has been overseas since February of this year and Russell George who went overseas in December, 1943, had been in Italy since March of this year. They were killed in action within two days of each other in Italy.
The service they have rendered to their country, Mr. Kersey said, ought to make the people more anxious to render a service at home so, when the boys do come back they will come back to an infinitely better country.
Living in Aftermath
The text chosen by Mr. Kersey was “He Maketh Wars to Cease.” He spoke of the conception of God as a God of hate and said this was wrong. The Jews started the idea of the blood purge in the olden days, he continued, and “we are living in an aftermath of that doctrine today.” It is folly to think of that doctrine today.” It is folly to think
God has chosen any one nation to be superior, he said, and pointed out if the ten commandments were put into practice there would be little cause for war.
He asked if there were any possibility of ending war and replied that there is. As long as nations control the natural resources in the world, other nations will attempt to get them, he stated, and added that if the provisions of the Atlantic Charter were carried out, then these nations will have access to the resources of the world and the cause of war would be removed.
Must Change World Order
He spoke of the necessity of changing the world order that leads to greediness and covetousness and said Canada is seeking a way between the system of private industry as in the United States and of state control as in Russia. This must be done before the war ceases, he said, as the sacrifices being made “are too great to slip back into those old ways.” He continued, “Let us win the peace now so the winning of the war will mean something,”
Mr. Kersey mentioned the Magna Charta and the men who fought at that time, whose names are unknown today but who contributed to civil liberty. He also referred to those who had died during the American revolution which had established a nation that means salvation to the world now.
He spoke of the First Great War, saying the men had not lost that war but that the present conflict, a continuation of it, was because there was too much injustice left at home. He spoke of the “new age which lies before us, that the men of that other war introduced” and which “we at home must see is accomplished so the sacrifices being made will not be in vain.”
At the close of the sermon Mr. Kersey asked Jack Watson, president of the Canadian Legion, to take charge and a minute’s silence in tribute to the two community men who had made the supreme sacrifice, was observed. “Last Post” and “Reveille” were sounded by W.Clark of the Legion and the vice-president, W. G. Johnson; led in the short ceremony.
The citizens passed before the portraits as they left the church, the Legion party depositing tributes of poppies as they passed.
Following the service friends called at the home, Galt-Hespeler highway, to extend their sympathy and condolence to the sorrowing parents and family.