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Lest We Forget: Verwood Cemetery monument honours solidiers

We must never forget the sacrifices our veterans and their families made to enable us to live in a peaceful and free country.

ASSINIBOIA - I was fortunate to be born after the Second World War and grew up in a peaceful farming community near Verwood, Saskatchewan, where people could own their own farms, practice the religion of their choice, travel freely and vote for the political party that they felt would represent them the best.

I don’t remember my family discussing the wars in our home when I was growing up. Our family did not lose any immediate family members in the two world wars, but I do know that many families from the Verwood area lost loved ones in those wars.

We must never forget the sacrifices our veterans and their families made to enable us to live in a peaceful and free country.

The Verwood Cemetery has a monument to honour those brave men who went to war to fight for our freedoms and never came home. The memorial honours the following men from the Verwood and district area who lost their lives in the First World War: J. Banks, W. Cole, R. Cole, S. Christie, G. Davis, W.C. Haver, W. Holland, J. Lowry, C. Moyer, C. Richardson, N. McQueen, J. Scott, A. Scott and H. Start. The memorial also honours M. Bracey, G. Smith and L. Wilkinson who died in the Second World War.

George J. Smith was the son of Paul and Anna Smith of Verwood. He enlisted in 1941 and was reported missing in April 1944. He had married Audrey Norin from Willows before he sailed overseas in 1943. His plane crashed in Belgium in 1944 and he was badly injured. He died of his injuries after being denied medical treatment.

Maurice Bracey enlisted in 1941 and was the son of John Robert (Jack) and Louise (Rubin) Bracey of Verwood. Jack Bracey owned and operated Bracey’s General Store in Verwood and Louise’s brother was a co-owner of the Anderson Rubin Hotel in Verwood. Maurice’s plane went down off the coast of Scotland in 1942 and neither his body nor the plane were ever found.

The families that lost loved ones paid the ultimate price and the families whose loved ones eventually returned home also paid a heavy price.

James Peter (Jimmy) Gordon was captured at Dieppe and was a prisoner of war for two and one-half years. He was released in 1945 on a prisoner exchange with Germany. He required medical care in a hospital when he returned to Saskatchewan in 1945. 

Peter Andrew Gaudry was the son of Amable and Justine Gaudry. Peter’s Grandfather was André gaudry, one of the earliest Metis settlers in our area who assisted Jean Louis Legare accompany Chief Sitting Bull back to the United States in 1881. Peter was reported missing after the Battle of Dieppe and was later reported to be a prisoner of war. He was eventually released and returned to Canada.

Percy Bracey was the brother of Maurice Bracey who died in 1942. Joe Hartness served in the First World War and Second World War. Jimmy Gordon was the son of George Gordon who had served in First World War. Bill Eskdale was the son of Willian Eskdale who also served in First World War. Pete and Rene Gaudry’s father, Amable Gaudry, also served in the First World War.

Some of the other Verwood residents who served were Roy Wilhelm, A. W. Dahlman, Rubin Fluto, T. H. Beamish, Walter Franklin Parks, B. Schauenberg, H. Townsend, A. Townsend, George Gordon, G. Kinnear, W. Kinnear, Leo Albert Bracey, C. Townsend, D. Beattie, W. Good, E. Grondin, N. Zazulak, Chester Birchard, H. Gunson, Arthur Charles  Smith, George Gordon, Ed Good, N. Birchard, E. Steinhauser, Jack Good, Fred James Kinnear, Clifford Wenaus, John C.  Neff, W. Eskdale, L. Gaudry, Kenneth J. Hutt, William J. Wessell, B. Schauenberg, Edwin Laird, William Stanley (Bill) Roszell, Douglas M. Wood, Robert (Bob) Templeton, Wallace (Wally) Bates, and Norman M. Neff.

The following women also served: Marion Parks, Lois Parks, G. Devlin, J. Devlin, Patricia McNutt and Lois Bracey. 

Residents who are interested in contributing financially to the upkeep of the Verwood Cemetery can contact Ken Berner, long-time Verwood resident who now lives in Assiniboia.

If you have stories or pictures of your family members from the Verwood area who served in the world wars, Barbara (Domes) Juurlink would like to include them in the Verwood Community History book she is working on.

She would also appreciate any pictures or information of the early homesteaders, businesspeople and early residents who lived in the Verwood district. She can be reached via email at Verwood.History1912@gmail.com.

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