Soldier Spotlight: Sergeant Alexander Burrows

Image: Alexander Burrows, 1940 (SPRA 2005.094.04)

Regiment: 49th Loyal Edmonton Regiment
Regiment No.: M16403
Rank: S/Sgt

Alexander Burrows came to Canada from Scotland in 1927 with his father, Robert Burrows, and stepmother Mary (Pollock) Burrows , and siblings at age 9. They settled in the Glen Leslie district (near Bezanson AB) and he and his siblings attended the Somme School. Alec worked for several people in the community. Together with his brother Tom, he homesteaded in Fitzsimmons (in Bezanson area). On September 14, 1939 Alec enlisted in the 49th Edmonton Regiment to serve in WW II. ( 7 Burrows/Pollock siblings enlisted in the war.) He sailed for England on Oct. 15, 1939. In 1940 he headed to Norway, then England and Scotland. He was engaged in a raid on Spitzbergen, north of Norway. July 1941 they were successful in landing, and destroyed the coal mines and oil wells. He sailed to the Middle East in July 1943 to invade Sicily. In August 1943 he moved to Italy to fight in the battle of Ortona, and he was wounded and evacuated to the 13th General Hospital (Canadian) in North Africa. Returning to UK in 1944, he stayed at a camp at Aldershot before he was repatriated to Canada. While overseas in England he met and married his wife, Winnie. They had 4 children: Margaret, Janet, James, and Ian. The Burrows moved to Montreal and later to Ottawa. Alec died at age 80 on July 23, 1998 in Ottawa, and the remains of his cremation were buried in Grande Prairie AB.

I, Sargent Burrows (M16403) enlisted with the 49th Loyal Edmonton Regiment, Sept. 14, 1939. I sailed for England in an advance party of the 1st Division on Oct 15, 1939. In 1940 I went to Dunfermline to embark for Norway as the Germans had invaded from the south. I was back in England, prior to Dunkirk. I returned to Scotland to attend a commando course under the command of Lord Lovatt. I returned to England and prepared for the raid on Spitzbergen, located north of Norway, 500 miles inside the Arctic Circle. German Atlantic fleet had been using the island for a refueling base. 130 of our division were chosen to take part in the raid. In July, 1941, we were successful in landing and destroying the coal mines and oil wells. The Russian peasants were taken to Archangel, Russia and when we returned to Spitzbergen we loaded the Norwegians and brought them to Scotland. Not a living thing was left on the island. In July, 1943, we embarked and sailed to the Middle East to invade Sicily. In August, 1943,we moved into Italian mainland, fought our way up the mainland to Ortona in central Italy. I was wounded and evacuated to the 13th General Hospital (Canadian) in North Africa. In 1944, I returned to the UK and was posted to a camp at Aldershot where all Canadians were held prior to repatriation to Canada. I returned to Calgary and home.

Source: Smoky River to Grande Prairie p. 448 p. 422
Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune July 28, 1998 – Obituary
SPRA Family Reference Files – information written by Helen Burrows Horrigan (sister)
– Photo

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.