Soldier’s final letter remains a bittersweet treasure
A Southwest soldier’s final letter remains a tragic reminder of the horrors of war.
The letter by George Akister was tucked away in a family bible and not talked about for many years, but it is now a treasured keepsake of Geneva Schuler’s.
“It’s a snapshot in time,” she said of the letter written by her great uncle.
The letter is dated September 9th, 1916, and was written to his niece Gladys Akister just days before his death in France.
Akister homesteaded in the White Bear district, and like thousands of Canadians he joined the war effort.
Born on September 11, 1888, Private George Wilbert Akister served with the Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan Regiment) 28th Battalion. He was killed in France on September 15, 1916, just four days after his 28th birthday. He is buried in the Contay British Cemetery in Somme, France.
Schuler was struck by the sadness of the letter while growing up, and for many years she could not finish reading it without crying.
Now, it stands out as a reminder that freedom is not free.
Ironically, the letter was held up by censors, and arrived after his family had received a telegraph informing them of his death on the battlefield.