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

City of Red Deer has nearly doubled its active COVID-19 case count since Feb. 10 and has 75.6 per cent of the Central zone’s active cases. (File photo)
Another new high: Red Deer hits 574 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports 13 new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 11 additional deaths over the past 24 hours. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta
Red Deer active COVID-19 cases drop slightly

Province reports 267 additional COVID-19 cases, 11 new deaths

On Monday, Feb. 22, Island Health listed Glacier View Secondary on 241 Beacher Drive in Courtenay as having a COVID-19 exposure Feb. 17 and 18. Black Press file photo
Red Deer sets new COVID-19 case record

There are now 565 active cases in Red Deer

County
County of Paintearth meeting highlights

The second round of the County of Paintearth’s Land Use Bylaw public engagement survey is now complete

Across the province, there are 2,738 active cases of COVID-19, with 18,417 recovered cases. There have been 288 deaths from the virus in Alberta since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Red Deer has 564 of central zone’s 766 active COVID-19 cases

Government of Alberta identifies 328 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for people age 75 or older start Wednesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Updated: Delays for seniors booking for vaccine appointments

By 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, 4,500 seniors had booked their appointments

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students, central Alberta community celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre supports anti-bullying cause

Minister Rick Wilson poses with Katie at the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin, both wearing her Pink Shirt Day design. Facebook/ Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin Boys and Girls club Pink Shirt day design focuses on kindness

Katie with the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin created this year’s Pink Shirt Day design.

Black Press File Photo
Valentine’s Day shooting in Maskwacis leaves one male in hospital, one male in custody

19-year-old Francis Edward Nepoose from Maskwacis has been charged with attempted murder.

Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Anne Kirker is expected to sentence Satnam Singh Sandhu on Friday. Red Deer Advocate file photo
Updated: Sylvan Lake man pleads guilty to manslaughter for strangling wife in 2019

Kulvinder Sandhu was strangled and died in hospital several days later

Sentencing delayed in the stabbing death of Samantha Sharpe, of Sunchild First Nation. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Central Alberta man not criminally responsible for killing his father in 2020: judge

Psychiatrist testified Nicholas Johnson was psychotic when he killed his father

Most Read