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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Gordon Donaldson

Image: D. Coy 49th Grande Prairie Loyal Edmonton Regiment, 1944 (SPRA 2014.039.12)

Regiment: Service Corps, Loyal Edmonton
Regimental No: L108077

Gordon Donaldson was born on March 11, 1922 in Saskatchewan. At age 21 he joined the army. He was a soldier in training in Red Deer for 2 months. On Thanksgiving 1944 he left by train to go overseas for one year. Sailing on the H.M.S. Mauritania, he arrived in England where he was the Service Corps, and then in Infantry training. After leaving England, he transferred to the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, and served on the static front in Italy (on the front line, Germans on one side and Canadians on the other). Next he was moved to Holland where he was a radio operator. For a while Gordon was carrying Red Cross equipment (after the stretcher bearer was killed). He continued in Communications before he was drafted into Reserve Occupation army as Leave Personnel driver. In October 1945 he was discharged, sailing back to Canada on the H.M.S. Elle La France. While Gordon was in England, he proposed to a young lady he met in Red Deer, and they corresponded by mail. Anne Nielson and Gordon were married on June 14, 1946 in Red Deer. The couple’s first home was in Qu’Appelle Valley where Gordon’s family lived. A few years later (around 1949) they moved to Red Deer, lived in various homes, and Gordon held various jobs – farming, garage work, working at Red Deer Creamery, and Alberta Nurseries. The latter job involved travelling to the Peace River Country, and in 1952 Gordon filed on a half section with the Lassiter Project north of Eaglesham. The Donaldsons homesteaded for 7 years before they moved into the hamlet of Eaglesham in 1952. In 1963 Gordon took auto mechanic training at NAIT in Edmonton, and he also earned a certificate in welding. He bought an old mechanics garage in 1965, and was able to build a new garage (Donaldson’s Garage) in 1970. Being an avid antique collector, Gordon had a small museum at his business, and he rebuilt a 1927 model T Ford truck. Gordon was a member of the Peace Region Archaeological Society. Anne and Gordon had 4 children: David, Donna, Gregory, and Irma.

Source: Smoky Peace Triangle pp. 192-194 (photos)
SPRA Family and Personal Life Reference Files: “Tales from Mama’s Kitchen” by Anna Donaldson (photos in mid-section)

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: Tony Doll

Image: Fairview Outlaw, Wheatbelt Champions. Front Row: L-R Dale Fleming, Dale Yurka, Cliff Wagner, Don Fox, Toni Doll. Back row: L-R Al Peterson, Ken Fox, Buster Kuntz, Mel Watchorn, Jim Fox, Pat Friedel, Jim Landry, Coach Father Loren. 1963 (SPRA 2009.041.01)

Regiment: First Ammunition Corps, 85th Bridge Corps

Tony Doll, son of Frank and Katie Doll, was born in 1918 and raised in Waterhole, AB (near Fairview. In 1940 he was in military training in Grande Prairie for 2 months, and again in 1941 he took 2 months of training. Enlisting shortly afterwards, he was recruited for active service overseas, but first he went to Red Deer for advanced training. On March 5, 1942 he boarded the train to Halifax, and went to Scotland by ship. From there another train took him to England. By June, Tony hauled ammunition to various outfits with the First Ammunition Corps. He was on-stand for 72 hours during the Dieppe Raid on August 19, 1942, meaning that he was ready to go if called, but the call never came. Changing course, he took 2 months of driver mechanics training, and joined the 85th Bridge Corps. His platoon continued training until the second front opened on June 5, 1943, and the men were under shell fire. For months they pushed on to new locations in France. When the war ended, Tony returned to Canada, arriving at home on October 14, 1945. A month later he was discharged in Calgary. Next, Tony was eager to acquire a quarter of land through the Veteran’s Land Act. Before he started farming, he took a course on farming methods in Red Deer. On October 28, 1947 he married his neighbour’s daughter from Waterhole, Frances Heck. Since he needed lumber to build a house on his new land, Tony worked at a sawmill for one winter. They moved into their house in 1948. In the following years, Tony and Frances had 9 children: James, Charles, Mary and Marilyn (twins), Bernice, Bill, Ben, Elaine, and David. In 1959, the Dolls bought another farm in Twilight (S. 3-72-5-W6) and moved there. Another move happened in 1966 near Grande Prairie where they built a bigger house. Tony worked for Wapiti Sand and Gravel, Cockshutt Equipment, and a plywood company. He passed away in September 1998 at age 79 in Grande Prairie. Frances died in October 2015.

Source: Smoky River to Grande Prairie pp. 538 – 541
SPRA Family and Personal Life Reference Files – Obituary of Frances Doll
AGS Website – Obituary Index

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: James Harper Dodge

Image: Spirit River School, 1930 (SPRA 107.10)

Regiment: 426 Squadron
Regimental No: J/21046
Force: RCAF

Jim Dodge, born in 1923, was the only child of Freeman James and Edith Catherine (McKinnon) Dodge who owned the Dodge-Harper Hardware store in Spirit River AB. They lived on a farm near the town, and Jim attended school in Spirit River. According to an article in the GP Herald, Jim was a “fine upstanding son.” After graduating in 1941, Jim joined the air force and served in active duty in England. On January 28, 1944 he was “missing in action”, and in March 1944 he was “presumed dead”. Sadly, his body was never found. In his last letter to his parents Jim wrote, “Berlin’s no picnic.” Jim’s name is commemorated among 20,450 other Canadian air force veterans who have no known grave, on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey, UK.

Source: Chepi Sepe pp. 365 – 366 (Family story and photo); p. 184 (photo)
Canadian Virtual War Memorial
SPRA – Family and Personal Life Reference Files – Obituaries of Freeman and Edith, GP Herald Old Timer’s Historical Edition 1934

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: Steve Didow

Image: Grain elevators at Rycroft, 1980 (SPRA 192.05.02.0617)

Steve Didow was born on March 8, 1922 in Eaglepoint SK, to Steve Sr. and Mary Didow. He had two brothers, George and John, and a sister, Mary. At age 4 he and his family moved to Rycroft AB where he attended school. In 1939 he began work at United Grain Growers Ltd. Steve enlisted in the RCAF in Calgary in January 1942. While there, he married Eveline Slobodian on December 17, 1943, before being sent overseas. Eveline worked in Young SK during Steve’s absence. Stationed in Great Britain, Steve’s invasion forces went to France on June 10, 1944, and he also served in Belgium and Holland. In March 1945 he was hospitalized for knee surgery in England. Needing further medical care, Steve returned to Canada, and he was discharged from the force that October. Back to work with United Grain Growers, Steve was manager of the elevator in Prestville (Rycroft area) from February 1946 until 1951. Then he and Eveline moved to Spirit River and operated the UFA Co-op Bulk Plant and service station. Steve joined the Legion, served on the town council, was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and served on the stewards board for the United Church, where he and Eveline were members. They enjoyed golf and curling. In December 1966, Steve and Eveline sold their house, and moved to Florida because of poor health. For nine years they lived there in the winters and in Spirit River in the summers. They bought a farm (between Rycroft and Spirit River), and the Sylvan Meadows Golf Course (in partnership with their son and Steve’s sister), which they operated from 1972 until Steve retired in 1982. From spring to fall they lived in their mobile home at the golf course, and they spent their winters in Richmond BC, and in southern climates. When they sold the farm and golf course in 1991, they moved to Grande Prairie, and then to Edmonton. In 2004 the Didows relocated to Kelowna BC. where Steve passed away on August 30, 2008, and Eveline died in 2011. They had 4 children: Shirley (predeceased), Donald (predeceased), Ken, and Linda.

Source:
Chepi Sepe p. 184 photo; p. 353 family story and photo
AGS website – Obituary Index
SPRA – Family and Personal Life Reference Files

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: Peter Dick

Image: Big Horn School, ca. 1950 (SPRA 0063.02.015.1)

Peter Dick arrived in Canada from Russia in fall of 1926 with his mother and step-father (Kathler), brother, Cornilious, and sister, Sarah. The following spring they settled on a quarter of land 8 miles north of Wembley AB. The children attended Big Horn School in Scenic Heights, and Lake Saskatoon School. Peter, who was one of the first men in the area to enlist when WWII broke out, served overseas for five years. He was a mine detector for the advance troop. In Germany, he was an interpreter, although he did not care for that job. Because he was wounded he spent time in the hospital, and then married a girl from England. After the war, they came back to Canada settling in Hamilton, ON where they raised a family of two children: Terry and Sandy. Being an ambitious worker, Peter was employed in a steel factory until the time of his death on November 11, 1974.

Source: Lake Saskatoon Reflections p. 243-244; For King and Country poster in Wembley

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.