PCHS seeks relatives of WWI serviceman

Relatives of First World War soldier Oliver M. Tulk are asked to contact Ponoka Composite High School to honor the local veteran along with students and the teacher who flew to the Tulk’s grave located in the Thelus Military Cemetery in northern France.

  • Oct. 13, 2009 3:00 p.m.

By Jasmine Franklin

He was a farm laborer in the Ponoka area before he became a Private and a member in a machine gun crew — and although he has been gone for 92 years, on Nov. 5 this soldier will be honored by Ponoka Composite High School.

Relatives of First World War soldier Oliver M. Tulk are asked to contact Ponoka Composite High School to honor the local veteran along with students and the teacher who flew to the Tulk’s grave located in the Thelus Military Cemetery in northern France.

The Broncs World Tour at PCHS has sent students and social studies teacher Ron Labrie, over the past four years to locate the graves of local war veterans and this year Pvte. Tulk, a machine gunner for the Royal Canadian Regiment 3rd division, is being honored.

Last year, Labrie, took students on a trip to northern France to visit Tulk’s grave.

“We create a biography of the individual and read it out at their graves,” Labrie said. “We perform a grave rubbing, which we then return to Canada.”

At the grave rubbing, students take a piece of newsprint and place it over the headstone. Graphite is then rubbed over the newsprint to create an outline of the headstone to bring back and honor the family or friends of the veteran.

At this year’s remembrance ceremony Nov. 5, Tulk will be honored at the high school with a bronze plaque. The plaque will be hung in the “Hall of Valour” in the social studies hallway.

Tulk was born April 8, 1891 in Atkinson Holt, Neb. He moved to the Ponoka area for employment where he became a farm laborer before joining the Royal Canadian Regiment in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces as a private and a member of the machine gun crew. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star on his tour of duty in France and arrived in England in September 1915. Tulk spent 42 days in the hospital with the German measles and was killed in action on April 21, 1917.

Tulk will be the fourth serviceman to be honored by the school and the team hopes to present Tulk’s relatives with the grave rubbing and honor them at the ceremony.

The Broncs World Tour started in 2005. About 20 students each year seek local service men through websites where specific gravesites and plots can be found.

“Any relatives or friends of Oliver are asked to call our school so we can present them with the information,” said Labrie.

This coming spring break, Labrie and the students will head to France for 11 days to finish some work, then travel to Paschendale, Paris and other locations.

“The trips fit in perfectly with social studies and art history,” he said. “It’s very educational.”