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.

Soldier Spotlight: Private Gordon Moyer

Image: The Moyer family on their way to the celebrations in honour of Gordon’s crop successes held in Beaverlodge. Gordon is at far right. 1951 (SPRA Fonds 422, 2008.068.07)

Regimental Number: 3210631
Rank: Private
Branch: 1st Depot Battalion, Alberta Regiment

Gordon was born in Breslau, Ontario on September 25, 1894. He came to the Elmworth area in 1915 and filed on NE 15-70-11-W6 and 14-70-11-W6. In September of that year, he and two of his neighbors, Hubert and Harry Black, walked to Grande Prairie to enlist. Harry was accepted, but Hubert was turned down for being too slender and Gordon for having flat feet; this was ironic, as he had just walked forty miles to enlist. He was later drafted in May of 1918, then struck off strength on September 14, 1918. On August 31, 1929, Gordon married Edna Small. He died of a heart attack in Elmworth on May 23, 1953.

Sources: Pioneers of the Peace p. 324, 325; Edson to Grande Prairie Trail p. 187; Beaverlodge to the Rockies p. 330; HT May 28, 1953

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 John Pringle

Image: Grande Prairie Herald, October 10, 1916

Regimental Number: 18461
Rank: Lieutenant
Branch: 2nd Battalion

John was born in Kildonan Parish, Manitoba on December 10, 1880. In 1912, he filed on SW 28-78-6-W6. John traveled to Valcartier to enlist in September of 1914. He wrote a series of fascinating letters to the Grande Prairie Herald detailing his experiences at the front. On April 26, 1916, John received gunshot wounds to the neck. On September 9, 1916, John was killed in action southwest of Courcelette. He charged a German machine gun single-handed and killed the crew with his revolver. John was killed as he reached the parapet. In December of 1916, John was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery. His grave marker is inscribed with “The work of righteousness shall be peace.”

Books: Canada’s Dream Shall Be of Them; Valour Road, by John Nadler (view on Google Books)

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 Elmer Eisenman

Image: One the x-rays in Elmer’s military service file showing the shrapnel in his neck (Library & Archives Canada)

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.

Regimental Number: 2492
Rank: Private
Branch: Lord Strathcona’s Horse

Elmer was born in Hoisington, Kansas on April 7, 1888. He was living in the South Peace at the time of his enlistment in September of 1914. Elmer’s homestead was at SE6-71-7-W6. In April of 1916, Elmer received shrapnel wounds to the base of his neck and right shoulder at Rollencourt, France. Pieces of metal were left deep in his neck (view x-rays on pages 83, 95, and 97 of his service file) because they caused no symptoms at first; later he complained of dull pains in neck and shoulder. He also had impaired vision in right eye after this. A shell explosion wounded Elmer’s left leg in December of 1917 at Cambrai. He was discharged on August 12, 1918, having been deemed medically unfit, due to his leg wound. Elmer was very hard of hearing in his left ear, which had started before the war, but was aggravated during service. He brought his war bride, Winnifred, back to his homestead, where they lived until 1923. At this time, the family moved to Everett, Washington. Elmer and Winnifred had six children. Elmer died in Washington on July 31, 1970.

Sources: Along the Wapiti, p. 88, 411

Soldier Spotlight: Harry & Laura Harper

Image: a photograph from Laura’s military service file

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.

Harry:
Regimental Number: 898247
Rank: Sergeant
Branch: 49th Battalion

Laura:
Rank: Nursing Sister

Branch: Canadian Army Medical Corps

Harry was born in Brantford, Ontario on December 12, 1887. He was living in Pincher Creek, Alberta at the time of his enlistment in March of 1916. Harry was sent to Sarcee Camp near Pincher Creek for treatment in the army hospital, as he had gotten an infection from one of his vaccinations. Here he met nurse Laura Jean Hanham. Laura was born in Welland, Ontario on August 3, 1889 and came to western Canada before World War I began. She was working at Sarcee Camp at the beginning of the war. Later, both Harry and Laura were sent overseas, Harry to the front lines in France and Laura to the No. 12 Canadian General Hospital at Bramshott.

Harry and Laura were married in Bramshott, England ca. November 1918, while they were both serving overseas. After the war, the couple came to the South Peace. Harry filed on SW 28-79-13-W6 and SE 29-79-13-W6, and Laura on NE 29-79-13-W6; despite Harry’s best efforts, however, he found he was not a farmer and canceled both homesteads. Instead, the family moved into Spirit River, where Harry worked as a carpenter. Harry died on April 22, 1939 and was buried in the Spirit River cemetery. Laura decided to go back east after his death and died in Toronto in 1978. She was buried alongside Harry in the Spirit River cemetery.

Soldier Spotlight: Driver William James Kellett

Image: Casualty card from William’s military service file (Library & Archives Canada)

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.

Regimental Number: 101379
Rank: Driver
Branch: Canadian Engineers

William was born on December 25, 1872 in Settle, Yorkshire, England. He married Hilda Blanche Cheney of Van Kleek Hill, Ontario in the late 1800s or early 1900s. The couple moved their way west, living first in Manitoba, then in Saskatchewan, and finally in 1912 settled on a homestead at 26-72-5-W6, east of Clairmont. By this time they had six children. Hilda was the first teacher of the Kleskun Lake school, which opened in 1913. William enlisted in the Canadian army in October of 1915 and served in England. On July 31, 1917, he was accidentally killed near Sherrington Crossing, Codford, Wiltshire. According to the 14th Field Company War Diary entry for that day, “#101379 Driver Kellett, W.J. found killed by train at Railway Crossing near Codford.”

Sources: Smoky River to Grande Prairie, p. 295

Soldier Spotlight: Private Herbert Stewart

Image: An excerpt from Herbert’s military service file with details about his injury (Library & Archives Canada)

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.

Regimental Number: 446753
Rank: Private
Branch: 49th Battalion; Canadian Forestry Corps

Herbert was born in Scotland on July 6, 1888. It is unknown when he came to Canada, but he enlisted in the Canadian Army in Calgary in May of 1915. In June of 1916, Herbert received slight shrapnel wounds to his right hand. He remained at duty in spite of the injury, but was unable to completely close his fingers after that injury. While on leave in England in August 1917, Herbert developed symptoms of shell shock and was transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps. His right leg was fractured at Ampthill, England in 1918 when a log fell from a wagon onto his leg (see pages 105 and 107 of his service file for images of the injury). Herbert’s leg was shortened by 2 inches and he had difficulty walking. In October of 1918, Herbert was invalided to Canada. He filed on the eastern half of 1-75-3-W6 in 1930. Herbert died on December 29, 1957 and was buried in the Teepee Creek Cemetery.

Soldier Spotlight: Captain Arthur Craig

Image:  Convalescent home at Paignton, Devon, England, 1918 (SPRA 1969.59.331)

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.

Rank: Lieutenant; Captain
Branch: South African Cavalry; South African Infantry; Royal Air Force

Arthur was born in Cape Town, South Africa on February 22, 1889. He served in West Africa and France with the South African Army during World War I. Arthur was severely wounded at Delville Wood during the Battle of the Somme on July 16, 1916. A citation reads:

“A bombing party under Lieut. Craig attempted to rush across 40 yards of ground which lay between the British and enemy trenches. Coming under very heavy rifle and machine gun fire the officer and the majority of the party were killed or wounded. Unable to move, Lieut. Craig lay midway between the two lines of trench, the ground being quite open. In full daylight Pte. Faulds, accompanied by two other men, climbed over the parapet, ran out, and picked up the officer, and carried him back, one man being severely wounded in so doing.”

Arthur eventually arrived in the South African Military Hospital in Richmond, England, having been taken to the dressing station and then by stretcher bearers to the South African Hospital at Abberville, the closest to the front line. Once he healed, he left the South African Infantry and joined the Royal Flying Corps (later the RAF). It was with the Corps that he was shot down in the observational balloon, again injured, this time receiving the steel plate in his head.

In 1919, Arthur came to the Peace Country with his brother George and filed on homesteads at NW 7-73-11-W6, NW 12-74-11-W6, and NE 12-73-12-W6. He canceled all three. Arthur met his wife, Marjorie Lily Marshall, in Edmonton in 1924. He later worked in silver mines in different parts of Idaho. Arthur died in Idaho in 1958 (1968?).

Sources: news clippings

Soldier Spotlight: Private William Hannigan

Image: clip from November 1, 1916 Grande Prairie Herald

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.

Regimental Number: 101381
Rank: Private
Branch: 66th Battalion; 49th Battalion

William was born in Nashua, Iowa on June 1, 1876. He enlisted in Grande Prairie on September 21, 1915. On October 10, 1916, just four months after arriving in France, William died at the Casualty Clearing Station Special Hospital in Warloy-Baillon, France. He had been wounded in the legs on the German wire and bound up his own wounds and those of two other soldiers. According to Col. Griesbach’s battle report, “German bombers endeavored to bomb the shell hole… he caught the German bombs in his hands and threw them away… he crawled away from his shell hole and was again bombed; endeavoring to catch and throw these latter bombs away, one of them exploded in his hands…” Col. Griesbach gives further details of Hannigan’s injuries and journey to the Field Ambulance where he died of his wounds (see link below).

Soldier Spotlight: Dmytro Hrychan

Image: Street view of Spirit River, showing several businesses, including H. H. McLeod Hardware, A. W. Davies Meat Market, W. Wade Real Estate, Insurance and Notary Public, and Spirit Hardware. The photograph appears to have been contributed by Percy H. Jones of McLennan, Alberta. 1917 (SPRA 032.08.08.1002)

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.

Matt was born November 1, 1897 in Sarni, Ukraine. At the age of 18, he joined the Austrian army as the Ukraine was under Austrian rule at that time. He served in Italy, then in the area between Russia and Rumania, and finally on the front lines during the 1918 revolution. Matt was captured by the Polish army and was a prisoner of war at Scholkova. In June of 1926, Matt arrived in Halifax. From there he came west and eventually settled in the Peace River area in 1930. Matt married Anne Solomiany in 1932. They had two daughters. In 1976 they sold their homestead and moved into Spirit River. Matt died on May 24, 1992 and was buried in Spirit River.

Sources: The Big Bend, p. 151; Chepi Sepe p. 497