Soldier Spotlight: Werner Quassowsky

Image: Coal miner digging at a vein of coal with a pick 350 feet into the earth at a Wapiti Coal Mine, 1937 (SPRA 032.08.07.043)

Werner Quassowsky was born in East Germany (now part of Russia). In 1935, he enlisted in the German army and spent two and half years in training, then returned to his parents’ farm. In 1940, he was called up. Werner fought for 10 days in France and later in Russia until 1945.

Werner was hurt in an explosion and sent by boat to Denmark. When he was sufficiently recovered, he was released and walked back to Germany, first to the English zone and then to the American zone where his parents had been relocated after being expelled from their land by the Russians.

Werner worked first as a farmer and then as a coal miner. In 1953, he immigrated to Canada, landing in Quebec and then taking the train to Rycroft. He found work building highway 49 and had various other jobs. He filed an a piece of land in the Bay Tree area which he homesteaded, using compensation money from the West German government to help clear the land.

In 1977, Werner has a hip replacement. In 1979, he broke the hip and had to give up farming. He passed away in Hythe on December 30, 1990.

Sources: Homesteaders’ Heritage (p. 93)
Hythe Headliner, January 22, 1991

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: Agnes Anders

Agnes Anders was born in 1920 on the homestead near La Glace/Sexsmith. At age 23 she enlisted in the Navy as a WRN . She was posted in Sydney, NS where she worked most of the 3 years, but was also posted to Ottawa, and Victoria to get discharged in 1946. In 1950 Agnes married Eric Carlson. They had 2 children: Valerie and Renny, and they moved to Fort St. John BC. Agnes taught school in BC. She moved to Sundre, AB for retirement in 2006.

Force: Navy – Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS)
Source: La Glace – Yesterday and Today p. 101
Sundre Round – up Interview by Patricia Riley Nov. 5, 2013

Agnes Anders, SPRA

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: Martha Jensen

Martha Jensen enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Women’s Division in WWII. Without her parents permission, she “borrowed” her father’s naturalization papers to prove they were Canadian citizens. When her father needed his papers she had to confess what she had done. Martha was sent overseas as a wireless operator to Linton Air Base near York, England where two Canadian squadrons (Goose and Thunderbird) were stationed. When she arrived, there was so much work to be done that they worked 8 hours on, 8 hours off, seven days a week. Breaks in the airman’s pub were much appreciated. During her time there, a very special event was the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth with their daughter, the young Princess Elizabeth. After the war, Martha stayed an additional four months, based at Allerton Place, to help with demobilization and bring all the POWs home. After the war she married Alfred Head, who had served in the Air Force at Linton, and lived in the south Peace River Country of Alberta.

There was so much work to be done when the Women’s Division first arrived at Linton Air Base that they worked 8 hours on, 8 hours off seven days a week. Breaks in the airman’s pub were much appreciated.

 

Martha Jensen

 

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: Arthur Dixon

Image: Dominion Experimental Station For Grande Prairie At Beaverlodge, 1928 (SPRA 107.60)

Force: Royal Canadian Air Force

Born around 1915 in Beaverlodge AB, Arthur Dixon was one of 4 children of Frederick and Louisa Maude (“Daisy”) Dixon. Both parents were teachers at Grande Prairie where Arthur started school in 1921. At age 20, Arthur was the foreman at the Beaverlodge Experimental Station. He married Annie Sylvia Walker of Halcourt on December 20, 1937 in Beaverlodge. Working as a grain buyer in 1940, Arthur moved to Hythe and later to Peace River. He enlisted with the R.C.A.F. in 1943 and travelled throughout Canada as an equipment assistant. After WW II Arthur worked for the Midland Pacific Elevator in Beaverlodge, and then became postmaster in Beaverlodge in the 1950’s. Besides farming, Arthur was involved in many organizations. For two years he was president of the Home and School Association in the 1950s. As president and welfare officer of the Beaverlodge Legion, he received a meritorious award in 1960. Holding a position with the Board of Trade, he was also a member of the Elks and Masons. Before his death in 1964, Arthur worked for the Farm Credit Corporation. Arthur and Annie had 2 children: Elaine and Donald. Annie, who died in 1988, completed a master’s degree, and taught in Africa and Germany.

Source:
Beaverlodge to the Rockies pp. 47-48 (family photo of Arthur as child)
SPRA Family and Personal Life reference files
Northern Tribune Dec. 23, 1937 p.5 c. 1 (marries)
Herald Tribune Oct. 2, 1956 p.6 c.1; Oct. 12, 1956 p.2 c.1 (biography)

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.