Finding Private Francis Joseph Burke Fitzgerald: 1923-1945

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Photo: Barbara Mullally

Private Francis Joseph Burke Fitzgerald (1923-1945) was killed on April 28, 1945, during the liberation of Holland.

On Aug. 18, Shirley Nadeau of the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph contacted Irish Heritage Quebec (IHQ) about a request the newspaper had received from Piet Smink of Hoogland in the Netherlands.

Smink wanted to know if Francis Joseph Burke Fitzgerald was the son of an Irish family in Quebec City. He hoped that a relative might have a photo of Fitzgerald, who was one of five Canadian soldiers killed in the liberation of the town of Hoogland. Fitzgerald died on April 28, 1945, and was buried in Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. Smink had photos of the other four soldiers in the book he published, but was missing Fitzgerald’s.

I informed Smink that Francis was the son of John Joseph Fitzgerald and Sarah Mullally and the nephew of my paternal grandmother Alice Fitzgerald, wife of John O’Connor. I also informed him that Francis was born on Sept. 24, 1923, and he was only 17 when he enlisted on April 18, 1941. He added a year to his age on the recruitment form.

When IHQ president Joe Lonergan learned the identity of the parents of Francis Fitzgerald, he contacted Barbara Mullally, who follows Irish Heritage Quebec on Facebook. Mullally said she had heard of Francis from her parents, who referred to him as Frank. She had also seen his photograph and set out on the search. On Nov. 16, the photograph arrived. When Smink received it, he wrote “fantastic” and thanked all who participated in the search.

Irish Heritage Quebec is proud to bring the courage of this brave young man to the attention of the public.

 

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Private Francis J.B. Fitzgerald, who went overseas with the West Nova Scotia Regiment, is buried in the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, along with 2,337 other Canadian soldiers. Photo from www.online-begraafplaatsen.nl