Soldier Spotlight: Driver Arthur Betteley

Image: Arthur’s description of his injury from his service file (Library & Archives Canada)

Regimental Number: 12969
Rank: Driver
Branch: Canadian Army Service Corps

Arthur was born in May Bank, Staffordshire, England on May 19, 1894. It is unknown when he first came to Canada. On September 23, 1914, Arthur enlisted in the Canadian Army at Valcartier. At the time he stated that he was working as a ranch hand. In April of 1915, Arthur received gunshot wounds to his leg. On September 21, 1916, Arthur slipped and fell while carrying a table into a marquee. The floor was wet, having just been scrubbed, and he fell while walking backward carrying the table, which subsequently fell on his leg. He was carried out on a stretcher and it was discovered that his left fibula was fractured (see pages 68 and 69 of Arthur’s service file for the story and witnesses’ testimonies). In 1927, Arthur filed on the northern half of 19-69-11-W6. Arthur was in the Veterans Guard and may have seen action in World War II as well. He died in 1960 and was buried in the Beaverlodge Cemetery.

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this 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.

Soldier Spotlight: Sapper Rowland George Absolon

Image: Rowland’s letter asking for assistance to purchase glasses (National Archives of Australia)

Regimental Number: 6211
Rank: Sapper
Branch: 16th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force; 4th Field Company, Australian Engineers

Rowland was born in Hanley, Staffordshire, England on June 15, 1879. He and his wife Polly (nee Batkin) were living in Trayning, Western Australia at the time of his enlistment in 1916. Rowland was wounded in May of 1918, but remained with his unit. In July of 1918, was absent without leave overnight. In 1929, Rowland requested a replacement for his discharge certificate as his had been lost and he needed the documentation in order to file on a homestead in the South Peace. He was successful, and filed on NE 13-74-13-W6 in 1929. Rowland’s vision was poor, however, and he struggled to succeed as a farmer. He and Polly moved to Vancouver, and in 1938, he contacted the Australian government asking whether there was any assistance available for returned Australian soldiers living in Canada. Rowland’s vision and hearing were failing, so he was having difficulty finding work and providing for himself and his wife. He hoped that government assistance might enable him to get his eyes treated and purchase glasses (view page 17 of his service file for more details). Rowland died in Vancouver on February 25, 1962.

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this 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.

Soldier Spotlight: Private James Walter Aylesworth

Image: Students in front of Flying School Lake School, 1918. Their teacher was Margaret McDonald, later Mrs. Adams of Long Beach, California, 1918 (SPRA 032.08.08.0938)

Regimental Number: 256387
Rank: Private
Branch: 1st Depot Battalion, Saskatchewan Regiment; 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion; 15th Reserve Battalion

James was born on April 2, 1883 in Odessa, Ontario. He was drafted near the end of the war and settled in Flying Shot in 1921. James loved young people, and one Christmas he knit and hung 500 pairs of mittens on the tree at the Flying Shot Lake School for the children of the district. He died in Grande Prairie on January 7, 1964.

Sources: Along the Wapiti, p. 135 & 411

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this 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.

Soldier Spotlight: Lieutenant William Brown

Image: notes from William’s service file detailing his football injury

Regimental Number: 629448
Rank: Lieutenant
Branch: 47th Battalion; 16th Reserve Battalion; 1st Reserve Battalion

William was born on July 12, 1892 in Hamiota, Manitoba. He joined the army in 1915. At that time he had been surveying on the west coast of BC. William received the Military Medal for bravery (Wagon Trails says at Ypres in 1915, though his service files indicate that the medal was received in 1917 in France). During officer’s training in Bexhill, England, he played soccer for the Canadian Army and broke his leg there on December 12, 1917. William had an opportunity to stay in England to play professional soccer, but returned to Canada in 1919. In 1918, William met Melanie Grandsard, a Belgian refugee, who was working as an interpreter for the Rolls Royce Company in Derby. They were married on June 20, 1918 in London. William arrived in Sexsmith in May of 1919 and settled on SW Section 9 in the Mount Star area, and Melanie followed him in August. The couple had one son, Cecil Robert, and one daughter, Delphine. William once again joined the army in 1940 and was discharged in 1947 with the rank of major. He died on February 7, 1977.

Sources: Pioneers of the Peace p. 303; Wagon Trails Grown Over p. 408, 1147

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this 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.

Soldier Spotlight: Benjamin & Leonard Walton

Benjamin Harold Walton

Regimental Number: 883715; 3205938
Rank: Private
Branch: 187th Battalion; 1st Depot Battalion, Alberta Regiment

Ben was born in Ontario on February 9, 1902; he lied on his attestation paper, stating that he had been born in 1898. He first enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1916 at the age of 14; he was living in Calgary at the time. He served in England, but was sent back to Canada in May of 1917 to convalesce after being ill with scarlet fever, mumps, and measles. Slight deafness in one ear worsened after this illness. Ben was discharged on October 31, 1917. In 1918, he and his twin brother Leonard joined the army without telling their parents, although they were significantly underage (see page 39 of Leonard’s service file). Not surprisingly, their parents wanted the boys sent back home, as they were too young to have enlisted. Ben’s parents had no idea which battalion he was with; they thought he might have joined up under a false name, but he had used his real name. He gave his parents’ names as his next of kin; however, he said his parents lived in Seattle (they actually appear to have been living in Edmonton) on one set of paper work, and requested that communications be sent to a friend’s address. While in Halifax in 1918, he received a knife wound to his left leg. It was the result of a “scuffle”; see pages 111 through 115 for a few different (and entertaining) testimonies concerning what took place. A note in the 1918 service file states that Ben was “not to be dispatched overseas till 19 years of age” (he was 16 at the time). After being discharged, Ben came to the South Peace and filed on the eastern half of 22-77-20-W5. He died on March 19, 1963.

Sources: land records

Leonard Douglas Walton

Regimental Number: 3205620
Rank: Private
Branch: 1st Depot Battalion, Alberta Regiment

Leonard was born in Ontario on February 9, 1902; he lied about his age on his enlistment form, stating that he’d been born in 1898. In 1918, he and his twin brother Ben joined the army without telling their parents, although they were significantly underage (see page 39 of Leonard’s service file). Not surprisingly, their parents wanted the boys sent back home, as they were too young to have enlisted. Their mother wrote a letter dated May 17, 1918, requesting that her sons be discharged. Leonard was discovered to be underage in July of 1918, after he had reached England. He was sent back to Canada and officially discharged on November 24, 1918. In 1920, Leonard filed on SE 27-77-20-W5 and NE 33-77-20-W5. Leonard died on March 8, 1958.

Sources: land records

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this 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.

Soldier Spotlight: Fred Darnton

Image: Fred Darnton sits with a small boy on a front step, possibly of a store, 1935 (SPRA 116.09.01.02.022). Cropped.

Regiment: Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry

Englishman Fred Darnton once camped out on the property of David and Margaret Dana near the junction of the Simonette and Smoky Rivers. It was the fall of 1930, and he was only passing through the area. He had nothing but the clothes he was wearing, and stayed overnight by his campfire. After investigation by the family and neighbors, Fred, “the crazy young guy”, soon came to be a close friend of the Danas and was like a son and brother to them. Fred filed on a homestead for $10 (SW2-72-2-W6) on December 23, 1930 and lived in the Goodwin area for the next twenty years. During the Second World War, he enlisted with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and was posted overseas. Fred was severely wounded during the D-Day landings in June 1944 and returned to Canada after the war. Eventually he found a job with the Department of Highways where he worked for 25 years.

Source: Across the Smoky p. 347 – name in Roll of Honour; p. 24; p. 140-141

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this 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.

Soldier Spotlight: Clarence & Mercy Flint

Rank: Lieutenant
Branch: 56th Battalion; 49th Battalion

Clarence was born in Claremont, Ontario on November 1, 1881. In 1907 he moved to Edmonton and served as a supervisor of physical instruction in local schools. In 1909 Clarence filed on a homestead near Beaverlodge (NW 31-71-9-W6). In 1910 he married Mercy Elizabeth Grant. When Clarence joined the Canadian army in May of 1915, Mercy went with him to serve in England as a nurse. However, she returned to Canada when Clarence was sent to the front lines in France. Clarence was awarded the Military Cross while serving overseas. According to the Circumstances of Death Register, Clarence was hit in the stomach by an enemy machine gun bullet and killed instantly during an advance in the vicinity of Cambrai on September 29, 1918 .

In 1929, Mercy married Arnold Christie of Grande Prairie. She died in 1960.

Note: Follow the “War Diaries” link below. Clarence is mentioned on the following pages on 28 and 29 September, 1918:

p. 18: Commander of “A” Company
p. 20: Reported “A” and “B” Companies at 11:50 PM
p. 21: Company Commanders of both the “A” and “B” Companies were killed in action at 8:00 AM.

Source: Pioneers of the Peace p. 40

Lieutenant Clarence Flint (SPRA 002.01.03.193)

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this 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.

Soldier Spotlight: Private Frederick Stanley Albright

Regimental Number: 895173
Rank: Private
Branch: 50th Battalion

Fred was born in Township Dunn, Ontario on March 23, 1883. Before World War I, he was a partner in a law firm in Calgary, together with John Brownlee. He and his wife, Elnora Evelyn Kelly, were living in Calgary at the time of his enlistment in June of 1916. Fred shared his brother’s (W.D. Albright) confidence in the Peace country and filed on a homestead at 8-72-9-W6. However, he was killed in action at Passchendaele on October 26, 1917 without having had the opportunity to develop his land. His grave marker in Larch Wood Cemetery is inscribed with “Who was faithful to Him that appointed Him Heb. 3.2”

Sources: Beaverlodge to the Rockies p. 193

A poem written by W.D. Albright in memory of his brother.

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this 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.

Soldier Spotlight: Father Alexandre Josse

Image: Father Josse appears at far left in this photograph from the 1934 Historical Edition of the Grande Prairie Herald

Rank: Secretary of Staff
Branch: French Army Reserve, 11th Legion

Father Josse was born in St. Herblain, France around 1877. After completing his training for the priesthood, he was sent to Canada and arrived at Dunvegan on October 11, 1902. For a number of years Father Josse traveled around the Peace country on horseback to minister to the Catholics throughout the region. In July of 1917 he was called up to join the French Army for the duration of World War I. He served as Secretary of Staff of the 11th Legion initially, and later as an interpreter. During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive at the end of the war, Father Josse was awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery while assisting the wounded under heavy artillery fire. After the war, he returned to Grande Prairie, where he remained until 1931 – at this time he was called to a professorship at the Seminary of Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan. Father Josse died on February 13, 1964 in St. Norbert, Manitoba, at the age of 87.

Sources: Pioneers of the Peace p. 86-88; Lake Saskatoon Reflections p. 4; check our newspaper database for many more newspaper references

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this 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.

Rev. Father Josse served as an interpreter during World War I. Photograph taken ca. 1920 (SPRA 350.08.02.001a)

Soldier Spotlight: Captain William Claxton

Image: Grande Prairie Herald, May 20, 1919

Rank: Captain
Branch: No. 41 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps

William was born in Gladstone, Manitoba on June 1, 1899. He enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps on his eighteenth birthday. William received the Distinguished Flying Cross in the summer of 1918. The citation read as follows:

“This officer at all times shows fine courage and disregard of danger. He has accounted for six enemy aeroplanes and one kite balloon, three of the aeroplanes being destroyed and three driven down out of control. On a recent occasion, having destroyed a hostile balloon, he pursued an enemy scout ten miles and eventually drove it down; he was then attacked by five enemy triplanes and other scouts, but managed to return to our lines, though his machine was riddled with bullets.”

In September he received a Distinguished Flying Cross bar:

“This officer is conspicuous for his courage in attack. Recently in one day he destroyed six enemy aeroplanes—four in the morning and two in the evening. In thirteen days he accounted for fourteen machines. His utter disregard of danger inspires all who serve with him.”

He also was awarded the Distinguished Service Order:

“Between 4 July and 12 August this officer destroyed ten enemy aeroplanes and one kite balloon, making in all thirty machines and one “kite balloon to his credit. Untiring in attack in the air or on the ground, this officer has rendered brilliant service.”

On August 17, 1918, William was shot down and taken prisoner. He suffered a serious head wound, but his life was saved by a German surgeon and he was repatriated on December 1, 1918. William had the sixth most victories of all Canadian fighter pilots in the First World War. After the war, he came to the South Peace and filed on SW 4-72-1-W6 and SW 9-72-1-W6 in 1919. William died on September 28, 1967.

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this 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.