is no exaggeration to say that Mrs. James DuVal, who resides on
McCall Street, is the happiest mother in Simcoe today.
The reason for this great
happiness is obvious. Five years ago, when the
great war that was to drench the world with the blood of millions
broke out, her son, James Kenneth DuVal, then 16 years of age, was a
Second Form student at Simcoe High School, a sturdy boy who tipped
the scales at 145 pounds, and well over the average height for a lad
of his years.
The spirit of patriotism and
a longing to take part in the great adventure burned strong in
Kenneth. Vainly he sought his mother's sanction to enlist. But while
the mother was proud of her son's fine spirit, she could not, in
view of his tender years, accede to his request.
For a time the boy seemed to
be willing to abide by his mother's decision. Then, on 3 Dec 1914,
Kenneth DuVal disappeared. That day the boy went to the
bank and drew his account, for he was a thrifty lad, and had saved a
neat sum from work out of school hours. Had the earth suddenly
opened and swallowed him up, he could not have dropped out of sight
Every effort was made to
locate him. Circulars bearing his photo and description were sent
out over the country. Advertisements were inserted in Canadian,
American and English newspapers. No clue, however remote, that might
lead to the discovery of his whereabouts was overlooked, to no
Weeks rolled into months,
and months into years, but still no work came of the missing boy.
Finally the heart-wrenched mother gave her boy up for lost.
The only possible solution
seemed to be that he had enlisted under an assumed name, gone
to France, and there paid the great sacrifice demanded of hosts of
other gallant lads. When the war ceased last November, and still no
word came from her son, Mrs. DuVal had almost resigned herself to
the fact that such had been her boy's end.
Fate however was kinder to
Kenneth DuVal. Monday of this week his mother received a letter
written by her boy to a chum, from Baumbach, near Coblenz, Germany,
where he is now in the Headquarters Company, 342nd U.S. Field
Artillery, with the American Army of occupation.
This letter had been
travelling since March last, but for some reason the the addressee
could not be located. The letter, it is supposed, eventually found
its way to the United States record office, and the authorities
there had evidently been sent on the writer's mother in the hope
that she would be about to forward it to its intended destination.
From this circumstance it
would appear that the boy, upon enlisting with Uncle Sam's forces,
had given his mother's name as his next of kin.
Thus a letter gone astray
has been the means of bringing great joy to the mother who had given
her boy up for dead. As Mrs. DuVal said to a Reformer man who called
on her Tuesday afternoon: "For two days I have been so happy
that I have been unable to do my work about the house. But then, I
have also had many bitter days and nights these past five
Mrs. DuVal has written
Kenneth's unit commander, and hopes soon to be in direct
communication with her boy.
The supposition is that
after leaving Simcoe, the lad tried vainly to attach himself to the
Canadian forces, but was unable to do so owing to his youth. Failing
this he likely crossed to the United States, where he took up work
until, when that country was drawn into the war a few years later,
he offered himself for enlistment and was accepted in the American