Soldier Spotlight: George Fish

Image: George Fish bringing in the sheaves. The sheaves a piled on a wagon pulled by a team of two horses. ca. 1935 (SPRA 116.09.01.01.0351)

Rank: Cook
Branch: Navy

George Henry Fish, who was born on January 7, 1907 in Lewisham, London, England, immigrated to Canada with his family in 1919. The family settled in Grande Prairie, Alberta where George worked at various jobs until 1926 at which time he filed a homestead application on land that bordered the Smoky River in an area of Bezanson known as Fitzsimmons. As he had learned carpentry skills from his father, he built a small house on his property and assisted his neighbors in the construction of their homes. George eventually cancelled the Fitzsimmons land application and applied for a homestead on NE-26-73-2-W6 in the Goodwin area in May 1932. He built a comfortable log house and worked off his farm during the summer months. In 1938, he purchased a trap-line, traps and cabins; the income from which was used to subsidize and improve the farm. George loved to play his harmonica at social events and was well-known for his cooking and housekeeping skills. On October 23, 1942, George answered the call of duty to Country and enlisted with the Navy at the H.M.C.S. Nosuch, a land-based naval establishment in Edmonton. George received his basic training at various naval bases; H.M.C.S. Discovery at Vancouver, British Columbia; H.M.C.S. Tecumseh at Calgary, Alberta and H.M.C.S. Naden at Esquimalt, British Columbia following which he served with the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve attached to the H.M.C.S. Chebogue as a Cook during the Second World War. The H.M.C.S. Chebogue was assigned to the Mid-Ocean Escort Force. On October 4, 1944, on the ship’s second return trip to Canada, it was hit by a torpedo from the U-1227 submarine of the German Kreigsmarine when it was only 800 miles from the British Isles. Seven men were killed in the explosion of which George was one. Cook George Henry Fish was buried at sea the following day and is commemorated at the Halifax Memorial, Nova Scotia.

Son of Henry Richard Fish and Annie Elizabeth (nee Amner) Fish of Grande Prairie, Alberta; brother of Norah Annie (nee Fish) Paul and Muriel J. (nee Fish) Cobb; he was 37 years old.

Citations: 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, War Medal and the Canadian Volunteer Medal with Clasp.

Written by Wanda Zenner
January 2019

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 John Blonke

Image: Notes in John’s military service file about his jaw injury (Library & Archives Canada)

Regimental Number: 2382745
Rank: Private
Branch: Canadian Forestry Corps

John was born in Russia on January 26, 1897. He was living in Brown, Manitoba when he was drafted in 1918; having been drafted so late in the war, he served only in England. According to his service file, John’s lower jaw was fractured on May 30, 1919 while fighting a civilian in Scotland (the civilian assaulted him). John came to the Crystal Creek area in 1928 and bought Henry Fortier’s land. In 1942, he married Kathleen Stelfox. John died in 1972 and was buried in the Grande Prairie cemetery.

Sources: Grande Prairie Cemetery; Smoky River to Grande Prairie p. 87

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: Lance Corporal Charles Fessler

Image: Joe Yurkowski is 4th from right in the front row. In the second row the staff members are the four in the center. Charles John (Bud) Fessler is the 4th from the right in the third row. 1943 (SPRA 2005.052.06)

Regimental Number: 106673
Rank: Lance Corporal
Branch: Seaforth Highlanders

Bud was from Ponoka, AB, and enlisted in Edmonton on February 5, 1943. He was sent to TC 132 in Grande Prairie effective February 26, 1943.

Bud was transferred to CITC Calgary (A16) on April 27, 1943. He shipped overseas through Halifax on July 17, 1943 aboard the SS Louis Pasteur, landing in Plymouth, England.

Bud served with the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada in North Africa, Italy, and Europe, seeing action at Ortona, the Liri Valley, the battles for the Gothic Line and was among the troops who liberated Amsterdam in May 1945. He returned to Canada in September 1945 and received an honorable discharge, as Lance Corporal, on November 12, 1945 in Calgary.

Following the war, Bud received a land grant in Ponoka through the VLA and worked briefly for his former comrade-in-arms E ‘Davie’ Fulton (Mjr) who served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General in the Diefenbaker government, before relocating to Crossfield AB, where he remained until his passing in 2004.

Bud was a proud and active member of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Biographical information provided by Bud’s son-in-law, Gary Kiernan.

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: Sergeant Frederick Bohn

Image: Male members of the Sexsmith Legion. One photograph identified as Edgar Henning, Stanley Kulicki, Jock Thomson, Adam Grotkowski, ?, George “Knobby” Clark, Joe Shannon (seated), Fred Bohn, Charlie Stojan, Andy Innes, Danny Rycroft, Gordon Mates, Matt Chrenek. C. 1960. (SPRA 644.01.13)

Regimental Number: 441184
Rank: Sergeant
Branch: 53rd Battalion; 32nd Battalion; 5th Battalion; 15th Canadian Reserve Battalion

Fred was born in Rosehill, Manitoba on October 29, 1886. He joined the Canadian forces in 1915. In May of 1916 a shell exploded near him and he received shrapnel wounds to his face and right eye. At this time it was also discovered that he had deformed toes and ingrown toenails, a painful ailment for a soldier. Fred was back in hospital for trench foot in November 1916, and it is noted on his medical records that he was very pale and suffering from fainting spells. On September 14, 1918, Fred was promoted to the rank of sergeant. Toward the end of the war, he volunteered to go to northern Russia, and it was late summer 1919 before he returned to Canada. At that time Fred came up to the LaGlace area and purchased SW 10-74-8-6. While in England during the war, Fred had met Agnes Gibson, an English girl, and the couple was married in January 1921 in Bridgeport, Connecticut at the home of Agnes’s uncle. They returned to the farm in LaGlace. Fred died in LaGlace in April of 1968.

Sources: Wagon Trails Grown Over p. 1147; LaGlace Yesterday and Today p.65; Buffalo Trails p. 206, 261

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 Duncan

Image: Kleskun Lake, 1911 (SPRA 2014.038.01)

Regiment: 49th Edmonton
Rank: Private
Force: Canadian Army

James Duncan was born in Scotland, and came to Canada with his brother, George, in 1928. Their uncle Donald McPherson had homesteaded near Clairmont AB since 1910, and their brother, Bill, also was there. Arriving in Montreal, they took the train to Clairmont. In fall of 1929 the two young men bought their own homestead on Kleskun Lake, near Sexsmith. (E ½ – 19-73-4-W6). When a hay crop was destroyed in a fire in 1931, they then worked in a lumber mill. After a few years they started mixed farming with cattle. James joined the army in December 1939, leaving George to look after the farming. (George joined the army in 1942, and their brother Bill also served during WWII in BC.) While serving in Holland in 1943, James was wounded, although it was first presumed that he had been killed. He was discharged in July 1945, and returned to Clairmont where he took over his uncle’s farm. Soon he met and married Ella Jantz, and the couple raised 9 children: Norma, Margaret, Kathie, Tom, Patricia, Heather, Donald, Terry, and Bonnie. In 1967 the Duncans built a new house on their farm.

Source:
Smoky River to Grande Prairie p.291 – 292
Wagon Trails Grown Over p. 1149 (name only), pp. 169-171
Grande Prairie Northern Tribune – August 5, 1943 p. 1 c. 2 (killed in action)
August 12, 1943 p. 4 c. 6, ( correction: wounded)

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 Arthur Barre

Image: Car stuck on a muddy road, with three men attempting to move it, ca. 1925 (SPRA 2002.54.48)

Regimental Number: 3207612
Rank: Private
Branch: 49th Battalion

Arthur was born in Pipestone, Manitoba on November 10, 1891. He was living in Redcliff, Alberta when he was drafted in March of 1918. Arthur forfeited 21 days’ pay for missing parade on December 14, 1918 at 9:00AM. See pages 29 and 31 of Arthur’s service file for information about his family. In 1920, Arthur came to the South Peace and filed on homesteads at SW 26-72-12-W6, SW 22-72-12-W6, and NE 24-72-12-W6. He married Margaret O’Connel in 1925. Arthur was a mail carrier between Hythe and Goodfare for about eighteen years. His car “was the only car around to have license plates on it, and it was a common practice among those who owned a car to borrow Art’s license plates to make a trip to town.” Arthur continued to farm in the Goodfare area until his retirement in 1952. Arthur was hospitalized in Calgary for some time before his death on January 11, 1955.

Sources: surname file; Pioneer Round Up p. 63

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: Arnold Dryer

Image: Arnold and Violet Dryer with two young children, ca. 1950 (SPRA 553.04)

Regiment: S.A.R. (Southern Alberta Regiment)
Regimental No: M 45567

Arnold Dryer, born on August 24, 1914 in Hanna AB, was one of 9 children of John and Margaret Dryer. In August 1931 he moved with his parents and siblings to the Peace Country by train, and they settled in the Glen Leslie area. For a few years Arnold helped neighboring farmers with threshing and other farm work. Around 1934 for 3 summers, he made the Stampede Circuit in Debolt, Wembley, Beaverlodge, Dawson Creek, Rycroft, Peace River, and Grande Prairie. In 1937 he started work for Pete Donahue, being a “jack of all trades”, until he joined the army in June 1940. He enlisted with the Southern Alberta Regiment in Grande Prairie and served overseas, where he was married to Violet from Farnham, Surrey, England, on August 23, 1945. Violet was in the W.A.A.F. in England. After his discharge in January 1946, Arnold returned to Canada, and his wife sailed to Canada, arriving in Grande Prairie on July 4, 1946. The couple had 3 children: Dale, Mark, and Ann. Arnold died at age 63 on November 28, 1977 in Grande Prairie, and was buried at the Grande Prairie Cemetery. (Arnold’s brothers Robert, William, and Dave also served in WW II, and his brother Jack served in the Korean War.)

Source: Smoky River to Grande Prairie p. 426-427
Herald Tribune July 11, 1946 p. 1 c. 5 (bride arrives)
(Bezanson Legion Hut – Legion Album)

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: Lance Corporal James Barclay

Image: A diagram of James’s wounds from his military service file (Library & Archives Canada)

Regimental Number: 467403
Rank: Lance Corporal
Branch: 29th Battalion

James was born in Darlingford, Manitoba on April 1, 1887. In 1915, he filed on a homestead at SW 31-70-11-W6; that same year he traveled to Edmonton and enlisted in the Canadian Army. His medical examination prior to enlisting was conducted in Spirit River. In December of 1916, James received a minor wound to his foot. He was also shot in the right forearm in August of 1917, this time quite a serious injury. The bone was fractured and became infected. The arm was operated on to do a nerve suture (see page 24 for a diagram of the wounds). James was invalided to Canada in December of 1918. According to the present address card in his service file, James was living in Edmonton in 1922. James died of a heart attack at the Dreamland Theatre in Edmonton on October 30, 1954.

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: Sergeant Charles Dorscheid

Image: Crystal Creek School, ca. 1950 (SPRA 0063.02.025.1)

Regiment: 7th/11th Hussars
Regimental No: M/45559
Rank: Sergeant
Force: RCAC (Royal Canadian Armoured Corps ?)
Grave Reference: VIII. C. 14

Charles Dorscheid, born in 1916, was the son of Mr and Mrs Anton Dorscheid. He moved with his parents and brothers (John, Arthur, and Earl) to the Glen Leslie district in Alberta from Windom, Minnesota in 1921. (Charles’ older sister had already moved to the area and was married to Herman Kimble.) Charles and his two older brothers attended school in Crystal Creek district. On December 2, 1939 Charles married Luella Myrtle Parrish, daughter of Charlie and Myrtle Parrish of Bezanson. He enlisted in the Southern Alberta Regiment in June 1940, and he and Luella moved to Camrose. In 1942 he joined the 7th/11th Hussars and was in the invasion forces to France. While posted in France, Charles was tragically killed in action on August 19, 1944, at age 28. By that time, Charles and Luella had a daughter. He was buried in the Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery in France. A memorial service for Charles was held in Glen Leslie on September 10, 1944. Luella remarried to Howard Johnson and had 4 more children. Charles’ brothers John and Earl also served in WW II.

Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Smoky River to Grande Prairie p. 53 (Parrish family stories)
p. 426 (Dorscheid family stories)
Herald Tribune – Dec. 7, 1939 (marries)
Aug. 31, 1944 (killed in action)
Sept. 7, 1944 (memorial service)

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: George & Cecile MacKenzie

Image: excerpt from Cecile’s military service file (Library & Archives Canada)

George Fraser MacKenzie

Regimental Number: 2109822
Rank: Private
Branch: 8th Canadian Field Ambulance, Canadian Army Medical Corps

Cecile Leonore McKibben MacKenzie

Rank: Nursing Sister
Branch: Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Sister Reserve; Canadian Army Medical Corps


George was born in Hamilton, Ontario on November 9, 1891. He came to the Peace region over the Edson Trail in 1914 and filed on homesteads at 24-77-6-W6 and 19-77-5-W6. George enlisted in the Canadian army in February of 1917 and served for many months as an ambulance bearer in the trenches.

Cecile was born in Glanford, Ontario on August 2, 1883. She enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps in March of 1918, having resigned from the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Sister Reserve. Cecile served in the following hospitals:

-No. 13 and 14 General Hospitals (France, March 1917 until March 1918, prior to enlisting in the Canadian army)
-No. 15 Canadian General Hospital (Clivedon, England)
-No. 10 Canadian General Hospital (Brighton, England)

Cecile’s British records state that she was “a good surgical nurse, but slow. Very reliable and conscientious. And most kind to the patients.”

On November 11, 1919, Cecile married George MacKenzie. They had met at a military hospital in England while George was convalescing. The couple had two children. George enlisted in the Air Force in 1941; Cecile joined him in Ontario where he was stationed. Son Hugh and daughter Virginia both joined the Air Force as well; Hugh was killed in action in 1944. George and Cecile returned to the South Peace after the war, where she filed on SW 24-77-6-W6. Cecile died in 1954 and was buried in the White Mountain Cemetery. George continued to farm until 1959, then moved to Vancouver to live with his daughter and her family. George died in 1977.

Sources: Memories & Moments p. 111

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.