An­der­sons of Craigmyle re­mem­bered

The Drumheller Mail - - REMEMBRANCE DAY - Patrick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

The sac­ri­fices of fam­i­lies in wartime are im­mense as young men are shipped away with­out a cer­tain fu­ture. Fam­i­lies waited at home for small things, any in­di­ca­tion that their sons, daugh­ters, brothers hus­bands are okay. Good news came in a hand-penned let­ter. Bad news would come in short, cold tele­grams.

For the An­der­son fam­ily of Craigmyle, there were three tele­grams in World War II. Short, ster­ile mes­sages to Wil­liam and Dag­nie of the loss of their three sons; twins Wil­liam (Billy) and James ( Jimmy), and their older boy Lloyd.

Wi l l i a m Boyd An­der­son, born in Scot­land in 1883 came to Craigmyle 1914. In 1915, he mar­ried Dag­nie Sechur from Den­mark, who was vis­it­ing her aunt, when they met.

In 1917, Lloyd was born, and three years later came Billy and Jimmy. All three were schooled in Craigmyle and ex­celled in hockey and base­ball.

Shortly af­ter war broke out in Europe, twins Billy and Jimmy joined the RCAF and did their ba­sic train­ing at the new Pen­hold Base as well as Ed­mon­ton and Man­i­toba. Both en­listed as pi­lots. Billy re­ceived his wings at River Man­i­toba, and his rank was Fly­ing Of­fi­cer. Jimmy earned his wings at Moss­bank, Saskatchewan, and earned the rank of Flight Sergeant.

Lloyd was 25 when he en­listed in the RCAF as a pi­lot. He trained at bases in Saskatchewan and Man­i­toba. He was grounded af­ter a train­ing ac­ci­dent and then was sent to Trenton, On­tario, where he be­came an air gun­ner. All three saw ac­tive duty. Jimmy was at­tached to the RAF #158 Squadron and he was fa­tally in­jured in a crash land­ing in Eng­land af­ter a mis­sion over Ger­many on Oc­to­ber 17, 1942. The pi­lot at­tempted a three-en­gine land­ing at East Ma­jor. He is buried in Ful­ford Ceme­tery in York­shire, Eng­land.

Billy was posted at the Costal Com­mand with the #407 Squadron. Lit­tle is know about his fi­nal mis­sion. The An­der­son fam­ily learned that he and his crew were on an anti-sub­ma­rine pa­trol over the Bay of Bis­cay, and upon re­turn­ing, the Hud­son air­craft sent out an SOS, about 40 miles off the English coast in Jan­uary of 1943. Res­cue planes found no trace of their crip­pled planes and noth­ing has ever been re­cov­ered.

Ray Hum­mel of Drumheller knew the sto­ries of the fam­ily well, as his mother mar­ried the An­der­son boys’ un­cle. He says that it took quite some time for Billy’s mother to ac­cept he would not be com­ing home.

“My mother said she (Mrs. An­der­son) used to set the ta­ble ev­ery night be­cause she still had hopes be­cause he wasn’t dis­cov­ered,” he said. “This went on for some time.”

He said that tak­ing walks with the fam­ily dog along the rail­road tracks in the evening was ther­a­peu­tic for the griev­ing fam­ily.

Lloyd went over­seas in the spring of 1943. Hum­mel shared a fam­ily trea­sure with The Mail. This is a let­ter from Lloyd dated, Fe­bru­ary 18, of 1944. It was writ­ten to Betty Read, (now Rew), a friend of the com­mu­nity. He wrote about be­ing able to meet up with Betty’s brother Jack Derry, and they spent a cou­ple days to­gether. He also talked about the Cana­dian sol­diers play­ing hockey on Mon­day evening, how­ever, he had not yet been able to join them. He yearned for home.

“The old town must be dead, but oh boy, I would like to be in it right now,” he wrote.

This may have been the last let­ter he wrote, be­cause on March 3, 1944, just over a month af­ter this let­ter was penned, he lost his life in a raid over Nurem­berg, Ger­many. He was listed as miss­ing un­til af­ter the war when the fam­ily learned the plane went down over Bel­gium and he was buried. His body was moved and buried at the War Ceme­tery in Rhein­berg, Ger­many.

Mrs. An­der­son was named the Sil­ver Cross Mother in 1959 and trav­elled by train to Ot­tawa for the Novem­ber 11 ser­vices where she laid a wreath at the Na­tional War Me­mo­rial.

The fam­ily was hon­oured in the mid 1950’s when the Grade1-8 school at the Pen­hold Air Base was named the An­der­sons of Craigmyle School.

The school lasted un­til the mid-1990’s when the air base closed, and upon the urg­ing of his mother, Hum­mel phoned the com­man­der of Pen­hold. He went and packed up a num­ber of ar­ti­facts, in­clud­ing some pic­tures, which he mounted and do­nated to Craigmyle and they are posted in the com­mu­nity hall. He also had a plaque mounted in gran­ite, which was placed with the grave of the boys’ par­ents at Craigmyle.

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