Ponoka Air Cadet Flt. Sgt. Ryan Behrens honours William John Andrews, who was wounded in the First World War and was eventually buried at the Forest Home Cemetery. Andrews received a head wound that forced him to return to Canada. Photo submitted

Mystery solved of First World War soldier’s gravesite in Ponoka

Taking time to honour past veterans during this Remembrance Day


William John Andrews’ Gravesite Mystery

I am Métis. While at a meeting of the Aboriginal Veterans of Alberta I met Smokey Tomkins, a wheel-chair bound Second World War aboriginal veteran.

During our conversation I told him about the Candlelight Vigil the Ponoka Royal Canadian Legion holds every year in honour of those veterans who are buried in the Ponoka Forest Home Cemetery. He mentioned he had a relative buried here who had seen action in Europe and asked if I would remember him at the ceremony.

When I located the gravesite I noticed that William John Andrews, who was also Aboriginal, had died in 1941. This struck me as odd because at that time any soldier killed was buried in the country in which they died. I assumed he had died in Europe during the Second World War. He had not.

Further checking revealed the truth behind my question; Andrews had served during the First World War and received a shrapnel wound to the head. Upon his return to Canada he lived in the community for a few years but eventually his head wound caused mental instability and he was placed in the Ponoka psychiatric hospital in 1920.

He died on May 19, 1941, one of the many brave men who returned from war a broken person. It is through the sacrifices of men like Andrews that we live in a safe country free from fear and in a democratic society.

On Nov. 11 throughout Canada special remembrance ceremonies are held in honour of those who have served in the military and who are no longer with us. Please spend a few minutes remembering those who have died and suffered in armed conflict throughout the world and also remember those who have served or are presently serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.

It is through these dedicated men and women that we live in a great country, Canada, free from strife and conflict, a place where our children can grow to their full potenetial, where we can sleep peacefully. Thank you soldiers, sailors and airmen for your sacrifice. Thank you William John Andrews. What you have given us is truly appreciated.

Eldred Stamp CD

Just Posted

Fundraiser a test of endurance and fitness

Ponoka gym setting up to participate in worldwide fitness event

Alberta Justice Minister advocates UCP rural crime plan

Expanded property rights, more power to peace officers, demonetizing scrap mental part of UCP plan

Wolf Creek Public Schools appoints new facilities manager

Kevin Henderson to take over after Len Landry’s retirement

Ponoka UFA celebrates grand opening

New farm and ranch supply store is larger, has new features

Four Maskwacis residents charged with 38 crimes Nov. 9

Maskwacis RCMP: four arrested following armed robbery, pursuit and home invasion

Premier vows to fight for oilpatch as drillers forecast almost no growth in 2020

The CAODC said it expects the Canadian drilling rig fleet to continue to shrink

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh meets Trudeau to discuss throne speech

Top ask was the immediate creation of a national universal Pharmacare program

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

PHOTOS: Ponoka Legion’s Remembrance Day ceremony

Guest speaker Ron Labrie recounts moving story of fallen Ponoka airman

Small group of Cherry fans protest his firing at Rogers HQ

One sign at the Toronto rally: ‘Rogers cancels Don, we cancel Rogers’

Ideas for Alberta independence would increase costs, Nenshi says

Province has formed panel to examine how to get what a ‘fairer deal’ from Confederation

UPDATED: Alexandra Lewis has been located

UPDATED: Alexandra Lewis has been located, safe and well. ORIGINAL STORY: Ponoka… Continue reading

Alberta harvest a ‘growing crisis’: MP Blaine Calkins

Alberta Conservative MP’s resolve to assist farmers struggling with harvest

Most Read