Soldier Spotlight: Daniel Rycroft

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.

Daniel Rycroft was born in Spirit River on October 24, 1924 to Helen and Robert Henry Rycroft. In 1928 the family left the area to eventually reside in Smoky Heights where Danny took all of his school. In November 1942, shortly after his eighteenth birthday, he enlisted in the RCAF. He was on duty overseas in 1944 when he was reported missing in action. A month later his mother received news that he was alive. His plane had been forced down but he had bailed out and had been taken in by a French family. The French underground were able to assist his return to England where he was hospitalized for a fractured spine and ribs. After returning home, he married Violet Spry in May 1945. They raised a family of six children: Loraine, Greg, Bill, Neil, Jean, and Jack. Danny became a grain buyer for National Grain Co. and then Alberta Wheat Pool for eighteen years. In 1974 he went to work for the County of Grande Prairie. Danny Rycroft died on April 13, 2011.

Photograph: Home on a Christmas leave in Sexsmith, 1944. Picture taken at Sexsmith Train Station. From Left: Ross, Hawkstead, J. Johnson, Danny Rycroft, Sorken. (SPRA 292.02.06)

Read about the Daniel Rycroft fonds here at the Archives

View photographs from Daniel’s collection

Soldier Spotlight: Helen Mary “Nellie” Craig

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.

Force: R. C. A. F. (W. D.)

Nellie Craig was born in Scotland in 1920 to parents James and Sibella (Muir) Craig. With her parents and 3 siblings she immigrated to Canada and settled in the Peace River Country in 1930. The parents rented farms in the Wembley area for 13 years, and the children attended Hermit Lake School and the Klondyke Trail School. Both Nellie and her brother, Charlie, served in World War II. Nellie enlisted in June 1942 with the Women’s Air Force, and she was posted in Davidson, Saskatchewan and Penhold, Alberta in the Post Office Division. Previously, Helen had worked at the Wembley post office for 3 years. Upon her discharge in May 1945, Helen worked as the secretary for the Assistant Minister of Education in Edmonton. In November 1948 she married James Coulson, and the couple had two children: Tom and Maureen. Nellie died at age 85 in May 2006 in Edmonton.

Photograph: The Craig family, from Along the Wapiti, p. 213

Source:
Along the Wapiti p. 213 (story & photograph); p. 412 (Name in WWII Veterans list)
Lake Saskatoon Reflections p. 122-124
AGS website – Obituary Index

Soldier Spotlight: Frederick Bruce Albright

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.

Service Number: R76714
Force: Air
Regiment: Royal Canadian Air Force
Rank: Flight Sergeant

Bruce Albright was born March 2, 1914, the son of Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Albright of Beaverlodge, AB. At age 26 in 1940 he enlisted in the RCAF as a pilot, and was stationed in Yorkton, SK. On August 16, 1941 Bruce was given his wings. He was sent overseas and took part in at least two big German raids. According to a news article, Bruce was captain of a Wellington bomber, and promoted to Flight Sergeant on June 1, 1941. It is believed that he was killed in action on June 2, 1942 while being east of Brussels in Belgium. Bruce was the first communicant of the United Church in Beaverlodge to give his life in WWII.  He is remembered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Source: Grande Prairie Herald Aug. 28, 1941; Sept. 4, 1941; Aug 27, 1942; Nov. 25, 1943; Beaverlodge High Year Book 1947-48 p.26

Photograph: Bruce Albright and his woodpile, 1928

The Vultures of War

This item from the Nov. 8, 1935 paper calling on all citizens to commemorate Remembrance Day, refers to the Italo-Ethiopian War, one of the many smaller conflicts that took place between WWI and WWII. The result was Ethiopia’s subjection to Italian rule, and is often seen as one of the episodes that prepared the way for WWII, as it demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the League of Nations when League decisions were not supported by the general powers. The war, by giving substance to Italian imperialist claims, contributed to international tensions between the fascist states and the Western democracies. (Encyclopedia Britannica).

Nov. 8, 1935

Nov. 8, 1935

Written and researched by Kathryn Auger

 

This Week in History – 1943

Training in Grande Prairie. The building in the background is the Courthouse which was standing where the Centre for Creative Arts now sits on the corner of 99 St. and 101 Ave.

Training in Grande Prairie. The large building in the background is the Courthouse which was standing where the Centre for Creative Arts now sits on the corner of 99 St. and 101 Ave.

The April 8, 1943 issue of the Herald Tribune seemed to have an unusually large number of articles and ads to do with the war effort. The four items I have chosen are a glimpse of how daily life, even in remote northern Alberta, was affected by war.

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News Items from the December 9, 1943 Newspaper

Sexsmith boys Ken Nelson, Gordon Rycroft & Allen Tink home for Christmas, 1942.

Sexsmith boys Ken Nelson, Gordon Rycroft & Allen Tink home for Christmas, 1942.

This week, instead of picking one subject, I have chosen various articles from one paper. War news was a very large part of the papers at that time, as shown by 3 articles from the front page. Also interesting to note is that the Christmas light up downtown lasted from December 18 until Christmas Eve – one week only.

December 2013 blogDecember blog 2013

The items from page 6 are fillers, but they illustrate some of the difficulties being experienced in Britain. We are more familiar with the larger issues faced by the people there, but these items show the extent to which everyday life was affected.

December 2013 blog 2

 

This Week in History – 1940 School Numbers and War Evacuees

Montrose School

Montrose School

Grande Prairie has been a growing city for many years as highlighted by the size of the students enrolled in school over 70 years ago. This article found in our search through this week in history breaks down how many students were registered in school in 1940. The total number of students was 420!

The Herald Tribune

The Herald Tribune

Another clipping we want to bring your attention is about the arrival of “War Guests”. Mentioned is the arrival of visitors to Grande Prairie and Hythe. Nancy & Rea Burrows arrived from Glasgow to visit their grandfather Robert Burrows in Glen Leslie. Welcomed to Hythe was Dorothy & Denis McCann who planned to live with their uncle J. McCann.

The Herald Tribune

The Herald Tribune