There are now 128 Canadian flags flying at the Ponoka Lions’ Centennial Park proudly representing and solemnly remembering the 128,000 members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who have been killed or are missing in action while serving in countless rugged decades of war and peacekeeping efforts.
The colourful community flag salute will remain in place until the celebration of our annual Remembrance Day ceremonies on the morning of Sunday, November 11, 2018 at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #66, Ponoka.
The recent colourful and vivid presentation of the Vimy to Juno travelling exhibit as well as the First and Second World War displays at the Fort Ostell Museum from Sept. 10th to the 28th was a tremendous success. Well over 200 people of all ages and all walks of life from our schools, community, and beyond visited and viewed the amazing photos, murals, stories, and actual artifacts honouring the dedicated efforts of our Canadian Soldiers during the horrific years of war. A total of 750 men and woman from our Ponoka town and county served in the Canadian Armed Forces during the Boer Wars from 1889-1902, the Great War from 1914-1918, and in the Second World War from 1939 to 1945, and continue to do so in peacekeeping efforts and other military services to this day.
In honour of our local war veterans, Canadian Armed Forces members, and their families of then and now your Reflections/Remember When feature in the Ponoka News is proud to share the vivid and memorable stories of some of our earlier soldiers, many who lost their lives in service of the nation of Canada. Many of these articles were prepared by members of our Ponoka Secondary Campus classes who on several occasions have visited those now quiet corridors of war so many decades later to pay their respects.
Raymond Marinus Krefting (1918-1942)
Raymond Marinus Krefting was born on May 16, 1918 as a member of the family of Mr. Olaf Krefting and Miss Annie Vold, who had been married at the bride’s home in the Asker district, east of Ponoka on June 14, 1905. Their parents had been amongst the earliest and founding settlers homesteading in the district, including Andrew and Thea Vold in 1896, and Erland and Julia Krefting in 1899. Later arriving to grow up in Asker were the Vold family members Mabel, Annie, Roy, Nansen, James, and Asta, while the Krefting family quickly grew to include Henry, John, Olaf, Einar, Martin, Aagot, Sigrid, Ruth, and Thor, and the ongoing generations have proudly carried on the family traditions over the decades to this very day. The thriving district was always very close, always celebrating Norwegian Independence Day on May 17th with a gala gathering with the Swedes across the lake for a day of picnics, games, lunch, and an evening dance.
Olaf and Annie later moved their family to Hatzie, B.C. to raise raspberries, and it was there that Raymond would complete his high school studies in 1937 and began a career as a store clerk and a butcher’s apprentice. He attended Duffus Business College until 1939, and then took on employment at Safeway, Maple Ridge Co-op, and the Vancouver Daily Province. In February of 1940 Raymond Krefting applied for entry in the Royal Canadian Air Force, but was called into the military in Vernon, B.C. On Feb. 7, 1941 he was officially accepted into the RCAF, he took four hours of dual flying time, and was considered as being very keen and satisfactory pilot material. After 30 days of training and 53 total flying times Raymond Marinus Krefting received his wings, and was appointed to the 419 Moose Squadron and would be flying an X3360 VR-R Airplane, which were all emblazoned with the emblem ‘Beware of the Moose.’
From February to September of 1941 Pilot Officer Krefting flew with RCAF units in Winnipeg, Regina, Vancouver, Sea Island, Calgary and Halifax. Raymond’s final mission would set off from Mildenhall for a night raid on Essen, Germany at 11:15 a.m. on Aug. 5, 1942. Their plane was shot down and crashed near Bedburg southwest of Kleve, Germany. As they could not find Raymond and his crew after extensive search and inquiry by the Red Cross for official purposes they were presumed dead on Aug. 6, 1942 and the families were notified. The remains of the entire crew were later moved to the Reichswald Forest British Cemetery where they were laid to rest side-by-side, and are recognized forever by a memorial plaque in honour of all the men who served in the Moose Air force Squadrons 419-420 and 428 from 1942 to 1945.
Raymond Krefting’s ultimate sacrifice and bravery was awarded with several medals, which were later sent to his family in memory of his honourable service to his country. These included the General Service Medal, Defense Medal, C.V.S.M., 39-45 Star, and A/C Euro Star. On May 6, 1988 his sister Ina (Krefting) Fairbrother was able to visit his grave at Reichwald Forest Cemetery in West Germany.