poppies

Remembering those who fought in the World Wars from Castor

The Castor Legion will perform a small ceremony of remembrance on Nov. 11th at the Cenotaph, shortly before 11 a.m.

By Kevin J. Sabo For the Advance

Living in a small community in the middle of the Alberta prairies, it’s easy falling into the trap that world events take place in faraway lands.

The Legion Cemetery in Castor and the memorial plaques that adorn the walls of the Castor Legion (Branch#119) are a grim reminder that even the worst world conflicts can affect an out of the way place such as we call home.

Yet, when Europe went to war in 1914, fighting the aggression of the Austrian Empire sparked by the assassination of Arch-Duke Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on June 28th of that year, over 200 men of Castor and the surrounding area joined the Canadian military to fight overseas, taking part in a bloody war which lasted for four years.

While many made it home, not all of those who went to fight returned, and are buried in war cemeteries throughout Europe.

The armistice ending World War One came into effect on Nov. 11th, 1918.

The survivors of the war returned home from Europe after the war while the politicians imposed a peace treaty on Germany which also resulted in the dissolution of the Austrian Empire. As the soldiers returned to their homes in Castor, a community barely eight years old at the end of the war, they hoped that the conclusion of the war would bring about a lasting peace.

The hope was short lived, however, with the rise of Adolf Hitler and the re-emergence of Germany as a military power less than two decades later. Hitler rebuilt the German military, testing its ability in a series of skirmishes including the Spanish Civil War.

When he was happy with the capabilities of his forces and propped up by other fascist governments in Spain and Italy, Hitler triggered World War Two by invading Poland on Sept. 1st, 1939, dragging the world into a war that would not conclude until 1945.

Over 400 of the youth from Castor and district volunteered to again serve in the Canadian military, taking part in many famous actions of World War 2.

Soldiers such as Bombardier Ivor Price Bowen served in the Canadian Artillery and took part in the D-Day raid, fighting through France, Belgium, and into German until the war ended before returning home to Canada and settling in the Castor area.

Another well-known family name in the region is Fiss, with Murray Fiss serving in the Canadian Air Forces, and eventually becoming a pilot, hunting for Japanese submarines off the west coast of Canada.

After the war he returned to civilian life, and his uniform tunic is proudly displayed in the Castor Legion, donated by his son, Brian.

However, not all stories of the soldiers who served resulted in the men coming home.

Twenty-year-old Warrant Officer George Russel Holm joined the military in 1941 and served as a Lancaster bomb aimer with a squadron based in England, until his aircraft was shot down over Germany.

He is buried in a war cemetery in Germany.

Eventually, the allies were victorious over Germany, and the sons and daughters of Castor who went to Europe to fight began to return home, forever changed by their experiences.

Castor is but one small community in Canada, however its stories are similar to those of communities all over the country.

The stories of those who served are fading with time, however thanks to the work of the Legion, and the annual Remembrance Day services, the memories of those who fought and fell live on.

While we may not be able to remember together in 2020, take a moment of silence at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11th and remember them, lest we forget.

The Castor Legion will perform a small ceremony of remembrance on Nov. 11th at the Cenotaph, shortly before 11 a.m.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

town
Town of Castor meeting highlights from the Nov. 23rd meeting

Castor’s town council has approved an interim budget going into 2021

county
The County of Paintearth Council has approved the 2021 operational and capital budgets

Capital spending approved for 2021 amounts to just over $3.8 million

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

U15B Coyote Goaltender Damon Ries had his work cut out for him in the team’s tilt vs. the Hanna Colts on Nov. 29th. He allowed eight goals on nearly 70 shots in their 8-0 loss.
Kevin J. Sabo photo
PHOTOS: U15B Coyotes took on the Hanna Colts on Nov. 29th

The game wrapped with a score of 8-0 in favour of the Colts

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season’s top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Curling Canada has provisional approval for Calgary’s hub-city concept from Alberta Health

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

A scene from last year’s Light the Night fundraiser at the Stettler Town and Country Museum. This year’s rendition is on a drive-through basis only, but it still promises to be a not-to-be-missed seasonal highlight. (Independent file photo)
Stettler Town and Country Museum hosts ‘Light the Night’

This year’s rendition is drive-through only, but will still prove to be a dazzling display

(Black Press File Photo)
Rimbey woman gathering Christmas gifts for seniors at Valleyview Manor

Margaret Tanasiuk says she doesn’t want anyone to feel forgotten on Christmas morning

Most Read