Soldier Spotlight: John Spry

Photograph: Graduation class, Jack Spry front row middle, 1941 (SPRA 292.02.36)

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

Jack Spry was born in Sexsmith, Alberta, the son of Walter & Rose Spry.

Jack served in the Royal Canadian Air Force for five years during World War II. He was certified as a wireless operator in 1941, became a certified Wireless air-gunner in 1942, and later that same year a S.E. Coastal Operator.

In 1943 Jack was stationed near India. One day out on anti-sub patrol with pilot Sgt. Gallagher they sighted lifeboats and fourteen survivors of the S.S. Montanan. In attempting a landing their hull was damaged in a heavy swell. This had them scrambling into a rubber dinghy and in need of rescue. The lifeboats they had been sent to rescue came to their aid. On June 9th, after 2 days and 7 hours adrift, they were rescued by Catalinas Y & G and later made landfall at Marsira.

After the war Jack returned to the Sexsmith area, where he farmed until his death at the age of 57 on Aug. 14, 1980. He was buried at the Emerson Trail Cemetery.