Soldier Spotlight: Sidney & Stanley Crane

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.

Sidney Henry Crane

Regimental Number: 101116
Rank: Private
Branch: 49th Battalion
Date of Birth: December 12, 1889

Stanley Wright Crane

Regimental Number: 427826
Rank: Private
Branch: 46th Battalion
Date of Birth: March 25, 1894

Sidney and Stanley Crane were born in England and came to Canada as young men.  After spending some time in Saskatchewan, Sidney came up to the South Peace and on April 9, 1914 he filed on NE 3-73-6-W6 for himself and on SE 10-73-6-W6 on Stanley’s behalf.  Both men enlisted in the Canadian Army in the summer of 1915.

A grim letter from Jim McDonald printed in the Grande Prairie Herald on February 13, 1917 lists seven local men who were killed in action at Courcelette.  Among them were both of the Cranes.  Sidney was killed in action on October 8, 1916, and Stanley on October 13, 1916.

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.

Soldier Spotlight: John Neys

Photograph: An aviation enthusiast, Jack Neys helped build this plane and flew it in the early 1930s.

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.

Regimental Number: 3208198; VR-6374
Rank: Private
Branch: Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve

Jack was born in South Dakota on June 7, 1896. He was living in Sexsmith when he was drafted in April of 1918; his homestead was located at NW 1-76-2-W6 and he later filed on NW 18-74-5-W6 as well. In 1918, Jack was discharged from the army and joined the Navy, where his brother Henry served as well. On October 5, 1927, Jack married Nellie May Warn. Jack had a keen interest in aviation and in 1931 earned his pilot’s license. He later owned a plane, and made several mercy flights. Jack died in Washington in January of 1973.

Sources: homestead record; Grande Prairie Capitol of the Peace p. 111-112; Wagon Trails Grown Over p. 646, 1148; Buffalo Trails p. 261

Soldier Spotlight: Alexander Atkinson

Photograph: Bergen-Op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery

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.

Regiment: Royal Canadian Engineers
Regimental Number: M17553
Rank: Corporal

Alexander Atkinson was born in Togo, Saskatchewan on December 30, 1908. His father was Albert Edward Atkinson. He lived in the Kleskun Hill and Clairmont area of Alberta since 1934 and was a farmer and a driver. At age 32, on June 23, 1940, he enlisted to serve in WWII. Alexander was married to Abbie Alice (Atkinson). He was killed in action in the Netherlands on November 1, 1944, and is buried in the Bergen-Op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery (Grave Ref: 10.B.3)

A page from Alexander Atkinson’s service file

Soldier Spotlight: Acting Corporal Mark Jones

Photograph: Golden Age Club Wapiti River Picnic, August 3, 1960.  Mark is second from right. SPRA 699.01.18

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.

Regimental Number: 14451
Rank: Acting Corporal
Branch: Fort Garry Horse

Mark was born in Glen Ewen, Saskatchewan on October 7, 1888. He traveled to enlist in the Canadian army on September 24, 1914. In fall of 1916, Mark injured his left shoulder about 40 miles behind the lines; he was giving a horse some medicine when the horse threw up its head. He was hanging onto the halter and injured his shoulder. Mark required surgery to remove some new formation of bone in front of the shoulder joint, which caused him much discomfort even after surgery and massage therapy. On March 21, 1918, he was discharged in Regina, having been found medically unfit. According to his medical record, he had a 12 inch surgical scar.  Mark filed on the southwest quarter of 13-72-4-W6 in December of 1918.  On January 8, 1921, he married Margaret MacDonnell, a widow who had worked as his housekeeper for a time. Mark died on September 18, 1965.

Sources: Pioneer Round Up p. 395

A page from Mark’s service file, Library & Archives Canada

Soldier Spotlight: Eva Nadkrynechny

Photograph: Tatiana & Alex Nadkrynechny with daughters Anne and Eva, ca. 1932.  Source: Where the Red Willow Grew, p. 558

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.

Eva Nadkrynechny was born on January 26, 1926 in Reshnivka, Ukraine which was occupied by Poland at the time. Eva immigrated to Canada with her parents and sister in 1929, landing in Halifax on April 1. After travelling to Edmonton, they went to Glendon where her father had put a down payment on a farm. After three years, they couldn’t make the payments on the land and they left. Her father then filed for homestead in Sunset House, southwest of High Prairie. The family came to High Prairie in the spring of 1932 and traveled to the homestead along the “winter trail.”

In 1936, the family moved to Edmonton and Eva and her sister went to a regular school. Eva was an excellent student. In the spring of 1938 the family returned to Sunset House. After walking to High Prairie for her mother to receive her Canadian Citizenship certificate, Eva’s brother. Ken, was born. In June, Eva wrote the grade eight departmental exam and completed her education. That fall, Eva moved to High Prairie to work. She sent money and clothes back to her family.

Eva enlisted in the RCAF (WD) and graduated at the head of her photography class. She also completed high school. Eva spent the war in Rockcliffe, Ontario, working in air mapping. After being honourably discharged, Eva worked as a pattern and style designer in the textile industry and at the time of her death in 1977, she was teaching at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario.

Eva passed away on January 20, 1977 at MacMaster Hospital. She was predeceased by her husband, Ted Murray.

Sources:
The Military Service Recognition Book, Vol. VI (p.245)
Where The Red Willow Grew (p.557)

Soldier Spotlight: Harold Austin Wellwood

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.

Regimental Number: 427665
Rank: Lance Corporal
Branch: 13th Battalion

Harold was born in Dundalk, Ontario on October 19, 1896. He enlisted in the Canadian Army in Moose Jaw in September of 1915. On September 3, 1916, Harold was dangerously wounded at the Somme (Mouquet Farm). He suffered from shrapnel wounds to the left side of his face, and was in hospital until he was invalided to Canada in June of 1917. The injuries caused vision problems in Harold’s left eye, and hearing problems in his left ear. He also had trouble eating and suffered from headaches. A note in his service file dated May 1917 stated that “the board recommend that he be invalided home without delay.” Harold was discharged on October 31, 1917. He came to the Grande Prairie area, where his brother Edward was homesteading, and filed on land at NE 12-73-5-W6. Harold died on September 19, 1949.

Soldier Spotlight: Elmer Bayley

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.

Regiment: The Loyal Edmonton Royal Canadian Infantry Corps (R.C.I.C)
Regimental Number: M/ 17157
Rank: Private
Grave Reference: VI. A. 3
Cemetery: Ravenna War Cemetery, Italy, No. 4

Elmer Bayley was the son of George Stedman and Ena Jean Bayley, and he was born in July of 1918. He grew up in Saskatchewan and his mother died early in his life. After his father remarried to Ruth, they moved to the Grande Prairie area in 1929, while Elmer and two other siblings stayed with relatives. Elmer joined them in 1930 and attended the Twilight school. The family settled on a homestead in Crooked Creek where eventually there were 14 siblings. Elmer (and his brother Orval) joined the army, and Elmer was posted in Italy where he was killed in action on January 27, 1945. The quote on his gravestone reads: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Source: Smoky River to Grande Prairie p. 528
Across the Smoky p. 347 Roll of Honour
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Soldier Spotlight: Private Alfred Cox

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.

Regimental Number: 1039075
Rank: Private
Branch: 239th Battalion, Canadian Railway Construction Corps; 6th Canadian Railway Troops

Alfred was born on May 30, 1882 in London, England. He filed on a homestead at 23-76-3-W6. When he enlisted on July 7, 1916, Alfred wrote in his will that he bequeathed all his real estate to “some wounded returned soldier, who wishes to file on a homestead.” Towards the end of the war, he suffered severely from flat feet. Alfred died in Edmonton on August 26, 1963.

Soldier Spotlight: Francis Victor Tanner

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.

Regimental Number: M45546
Date of Birth: 1 April 1921
Regiment: 29th Canadian Armoured Regiment

Enlisted in Grande Prairie, Alberta on 14 June 1940.

Francis Victor Tanner (known as Fran) was born in 1921 in Mazanod, Saskatchewan. In the late 1920s the family moved to Grande Prairie where his father prepared ice for the Grande Prairie Curling Club in the Wapiti Arena.This was his introduction to the world of sports. During the Depression, Fran and the local boys played hockey wherever a patch of ice could be found and cleared of snow. When World War II began, Fran enlisted in the South Alberta Regiment and served his country in A Squadron 29th Canadian Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment in NW Europe as a radio operator. He returned to Grande Prairie in 1945 and picked up his interest in sports again. During his first winter home, he was hired by Bill Bessent to help make ice and operate the arena. For a brief time Fran played hockey in the South Peace Hockey League, but he is remembered more as the sports broadcaster on CFGP. His career there began in 1952 as a transmitter operator but soon developed into almost 20 years of announcing hockey games’ play-by-play and providing game analysis and conducting interviews. The South Peace Hockey League recognized his popularity and contribution to hockey by awarding him The Most Valuable Player, and later he became the first media person to be recognized as a Grande Prairie Hockey Legend. Fran died in Grande Prairie March 27, 1984. Fran was a brother to Vera, wife of Jack Soars, who also became a CFGP radio personality.

Photograph: Don and Fran Tanner, 1943 (SPRA 364.01.03)

Fonds 364 Francis Victor Tanner fonds