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Creston Valley Goes to War

Those Who Died

Cenotaph Plaque

The plaque on the Creston Cenotaph that commemorates 29 men who died in the Second World War

On Remembrance Day in 1952, a plaque was unveiled on the cenotaph recognising twenty-nine men who had died in the Second World War.

Armitage, David Harold: Leading Aircraftman, Royal Canadian Air Force. Killed in action 8 June 1942

Bohan, John H: Private, Seaforth Highlanders, Royal Canadian Army. Killed in action 20 September 1944 in Italy

Clark, C Glen: Leading Aircraftman, Wireless Operator, Royal Canadian Air Force. Served with 196 Squadron of the Royal Air Force. Killed in action 14 February 1943. 196 Squadron was a night-bombing squadron flying Wellington bombers, targeting enemy ports and industrial centres; it also performed mine laying operations. Its first operational mission took place on the night of 4/5 February 1943.

Clark , Russel: 48th Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Flying Officer, Pilot, 408 “Goose” Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force. Flew night-bombing missions over Germany in Lancaster bombers. November 18/19 1943 mission to Berlin; Clark’s plane was hit by flak, resulting in holes in the bomb doors, and the plane landed away from the squadron’s base due to fuel shortage. 26/27 November 1943 mission to Berlin; Clark’s plane returned early due to malfunctioning compasses. 2/3 December 1943 mission to Berlin; Clark’s plane returned early due to malfunctioning rear turret. 16 December 1943 mission to Berlin; on the return, Clark’s plane crashed into high ground near Hawnby, England, due to poor weather. Clark killed and four others of the seven-man crew.

Cowley, John: Private, Algonquin Regiment, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps; enlisted 1941. Went overseas 1943. Reported missing November 1944, but returned to duty. Participated in Battle of Veen, the Rhineland, 6-10 March 1945, then capture of Xanten. Killed in Action in Germany 19 March 1945.

Crawford, Thomas Richard: Flight Sergeant, Royal Canadian Air Force. 19 May 1945 his last letter home indicates that he was stationed in England but travelling all over Europe, on what appears to be clean-up duty: visiting German airfields and inspecting the materiel left behind. Reported missing 25 May 1945 after his flight from England to Brussels to a point inside Germany failed to arrive at its destination. His body was later found near Trier, Germany; the plane had hit trees, possibly due to fog or clouds, and crashed, killing all four crew members. Official documents record that the crew was performing glider towing operations at the time, but the family questions this, probably due to the contents of his last letter.

Davis, Earl Edward “Ed”: Captain, South Saskatchewan Regiment, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. Killed in Action 14 August 1944.

Dickson Roy Vincent: Canadian Army Overseas; enlisted 1940, went overseas 1942. Killed in Action 8 March 1945.

Domke, Daniel: Private, Canadian Scottish Regiment, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. Enlisted 1942. Killed in Action 11 August 1944 in France.

Erickson, Edwin V “Eddy”: Lance Bombardier, Royal Canadian Artillery. Enlisted 1941 and sent overseas the same year. Killed in Action in France 8 August 1944, probably during “Operation Totalise” in which the Allied troops broke out of Normandy and pushed into northern France.

Flett, Wesley John: Private, Loyal Edmonton Regiment, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. Enlisted 17 November 1942, went overseas in May 1943. Served in North Africa and Italy, including the Battle of Ortona. Killed in Action in Italy 17 February 1944.

French, Kenneth: Sergeant, Royal Canadian Air Force. Killed in action 15 April 1944

Goodwin, George Nicholas: Pilot Officer, Royal Canadian Air Force; Enlisted 1941. Royal Air Force Coastal Command 101 Squadron, Nassau, Bahamas, December 1942-June 1943; transferred to Bathurst, West Africa June 1943. Killed in Action 11 August 1943 when the Liberator V bomber, of which he was co-pilot, was shot down while attacking and sinking a German U-Boat off the coast of Africa. Promoted to Flying Officer effective 25 March 1943, but notification of it did not come through until 23 November 1944.

Howell, John Edward: Pilot Officer, Royal Canadian Air Force. Reported missing August 1944. Killed in action 29 July 1944

Hulme, George Edward: Private, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. Died in England 4 December 1943.

Huscroft, Denis George: Captain, Canadian Army Overseas. Enlisted 1941. Served with Canadian forces in the Kiska campaign (Aleutian Islands); went to Europe 1944. Noted for a daring exploit in early 1945 to capture a German prisoner. His infant son, whom he never saw, was christened in a gown made from the silk of a German parachute his father had picked up off the battlefield and sent home. Killed in Action near Wagenborgen, Holland, 21 April 1945, by shrapnel during German shelling of a field. He and John Stace-Smith took refuge in a barn.  John was struck on the ear by the shrapnel that killed Denis, who was next to him. Denis’ family had just returned from one of the thanks-giving services on V-E Day when they got the telegram announcing his death.

Jackson, Rutherford James: Pilot Officer, Royal Canadian Air Force, enlisted 25 October 1940, went to England at the end of August 1941. Dangerously injured 7 December 1941 while on active service in England, but was reported as recovering. Killed in action 29 June 1942.

McMillan, Melvin Weir “Mel”: Battery Sergeant Major, later Warrant Officer II, Royal Canadian Artillery. Enlisted fall 1939; one of the first from the Creston Valley to go overseas. Seriously wounded in Italy October 1944, and died of his wounds.

O’Neill, James W: Private, Royal Regiment of Canada, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. Enlisted June 1940. Killed in action, 25 July 1944.

Pudifin, Arnold James: Flight Sergeant, Royal Canadian Air Force. Killed in action 19 November 1943

Putnam, Frank Douglas “Doug”: Quartermaster, British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own). Enlisted June 1940, went overseas 1942. Killed in Action 4 May 1945, by a member of the Hitler Youth hidden in a ditch alongside a road, who fired into the transport carrying Frank and several other soldiers. The German surrendered immediately after he’d fired. Frank may have been the last Canadian soldier killed in the war. His death was reported in the same newspaper as the announcement of V-E Day.

Sherman, Stephen George Cochrane “Steve”: Flying Officer, Royal Canadian Air Force. Flew over 38 missions. Was serving with 97 Squadron, Royal Air Force when reported missing and presumed dead 10 May 1944 after air operations over Lille, France. Mentioned in dispatches autumn 1944.

Sinclair, Clayton: Lance Corporal, Regina Rifle Regiment, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. Killed in action 14 August 1944

Sinclair, James Douglas: Private, Canadian Scottish Regiment, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. Enlisted July 1940. Killed in Action during D-Day invasion, 8 June 1944. Served in the same battalion as D.A. Domke, also killed in action.

Skelly, John Henry “Harry”: Flight Lieutenant, Royal Canadian Air Force. Nearly four years’ service; enlisted 21 January 1942, served with 124 Squadron Rockcliffe, England and in Halifax. Killed 23 June 1945 in a training accident in England.

Taylor, Charles H: Flight Lieutenant, Royal Canadian Air Force. Reported missing and later reported killed in action after an overseas operation 14 September 1944.

Wenger, Lawrence Henry: Private, Calgary Highlanders, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. Killed in action 1November 1944 in attack on Walcheren Island, Battle of the Schedlt, during the Liberation of Holland

Wood, James G “Jimmy”: Lance Corporal, Canadian Scottish Regiment, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. Killed in action 8 July 1944.

Two men on that list, John Bohan and John Edward, were from Kitchener, and a third, Steve Sherman, was from Boswell. Otherwise, all the men named were from the Creston Valley. This tendency to focus on the immediate vicinity of Creston helps explain why four other men who died are not included. Those who were from Yahk, and those whose connection to Creston ended when their families moved away during the war, are not on the cenotaph plaque:

Craig, Russell Sidney: Rifleman, Canadian Army. Enlisted about 1940 from Creston, though his family moved to Cranbrook two years before he was Killed in action 5 July 1944.

Gillis, Lawrence M: Former teacher at Creston and Yahk, and had been married in Creston in 1942. Flight Lieutenant, Royal Canadian Air Force. Enlisted from Cranbrook in 1941. Killed in Action October 1944.

Hamilton, Arthur Kenneth “Ken”: Flight Sergeant, Royal Canadian Air Force. Killed in action 6 April 1942

McCartney, Dan J: Private, Calgary Highlanders, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. Killed in action 23 August 1944

Seven years elapsed between the end of the war and the installation of the commemorative plaque, and that might help explain why some lesser-known names were omitted:

Chandler, Richard M: Pilot Officer, “Goose Neck” Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force. Reported dead after air injuries.

Cullum, W R: Private, Canadian Scottish Regiment, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. Enlisted after having lived in Creston for only a short time. Killed in Action June 10, 1944 in Normandy.

De Long, Ernest: Private, Loyal Edmonton regiment, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. Son of Glen and Mable De Long and grandson of Sarah Birkenshaw of Creston. Died 27 July 1940

Heembrock, Joseph John: Leading Aircraftman, Royal Canadian Air Force. Killed in action 10 April 1946

Hughes, James Robert: Lieutenant, Canadian Forestry Corps. Died of injuries 3 December 1944.

Tricker, Christopher William: Sergeant, Royal Canadian Air Force. Died of natural causes while serving, 18 September 1944

Tricker, Edward Henry: Rifleman, Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. Killed 12 December 1944

But the absence of two names form the cenotaph plaque is very hard to explain:

Martello, Bob: Flying Officer, Royal Canadian Air Force. Died in crash of Liberator bomber on Vancouver Island July 1945.

Rentz, Ralph: Private, 4 Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, Royal Canadian Army Corps. Enlisted July 1942 with armoured corps; went overseas in March 1943. Served in England, North Africa, and Italy. Killed in Action 13 January 1944.

Both these men had long-time family connections to the Creston Valley. Ralph Rentz was one of a very large family who married into several other prominent families, many of whom were still living here, and in some cases members of the Legion, when the plaque was installed. Bob Martello’s brother, Fred was a long-time and very well-known teacher and principal at the high school.

You may have noticed that we only listed twenty-eight names that appear on the cenotaph plaque, when in fact there are twenty-nine. The one we didn’t list is Lloyd G. McGregor. He is a complete mystery. The only place we have seen his name is on the cenotaph plaque. He does not appear on a list of enlistees published in the Creston Review in January 1944; news of his death does not appear in the local papers; nor is he included on the Library and Archives Canada database of Canadian War Dead. We do know of a Mrs. Lillian McGregor, who was a school teacher in Creston from 1942 to 1947, but we have not been able to connect her in any way with Lloyd. Two McGregors (neither one named Lloyd) served with the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers, but they were from Crawford Bay and, even if we could connect them with Lloyd, it would be very unusual for a Creston monument to include someone from that far up the lake. One of our volunteers, John, found a George McGregor who was killed in action 11 December 1944 while serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force, but it is highly unlikely, if he hadn’t enlisted by January 1944, that he could have been on active duty by December.

Altogether, forty-two men, from the East Shore of Kootenay Lake, Creston Valley, and east to Yahk gave their lives in the service of their country.