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3 names added to First World War tablet in the Belleville cenotaph

More than 100 years after the First World War, three names were added to the Belleville cenotaph tablet.

Until recently, Lt. David Alwyn Forneri, Nursing Sister Agnes Florien Forneri ⁠— his older sister ⁠— and Flight Sub-Lt. Ellis Vair Reid were forgotten names to all but their families.

That changed about a year ago when the Hastings and Prince Edward regiment marked the 100-year anniversary of the ending of the First World War.

Researcher Robyn May says she was contacted by John Geen, who “said he had two first cousins who died during the First World War and they weren’t on the cenotaph.”

Those cousins were David and Agnes Forneri.

May says that with help, she did the necessary research and presented it to Belleville city council.

“They agreed to have the names engraved on the cenotaph,” she said.

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Reid was a First World War ace credited with downing 19 enemy aircraft.

David Forneri was killed by enemy artillery during a raid on German trenches at Vimy Ridge.

Agnes Forneri was hospitalized because of bleeding ulcers. She returned to active duty at the No. 8 Canadian General Hospital in St. Cloud, France.

May says that despite her condition deteriorating, Agnes never reported it.

“She passed out at her nursing station through lack of blood and that’s where they found her,” May said. “She was admitted to the hospital. They did everything they could.”

May says the reason these three Belleville-born individuals weren’t originally inscribed at the cenotaph is that their families had moved.

“When everyone was canvassed after the war as to ‘We’re doing the cenotaph, please bring your loved ones’ names forward,’ there was nobody here to bring these people forward.”

The dedication service held at the cenotaph Sunday brought an end to the more-than-a-century old oversight.

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“Our entire family is honoured and pleased that this event is happening to add names to a cenotaph,” said Charles Geen, 90-year-old John Geen’s son.

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Charles says the two are descendants of the Forneris and three generations of the family attended Sunday’s dedication service. His nephew John LeBaron engraved all three names.

“He’s worked for about 10 years for the local monument company, so the city got him, an actual family member, to do the engraving of these names,” Charles said.

Charles credits his father with keeping the family history alive and says the day has been emotional for the two of them.

“He was very touched by the number of people that have come to pay tribute to our two relatives and we cannot forget the third person who was an ace.”

Reid was killed on the same day as the dedication service, 102 years ago.