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Banner project in Didsbury recognizes 10 veterans in 2022

Street lamp-mounted banners around Didsbury feature veteran portraits with their service history

DIDSBURY - The Didsbury Veterans Banner Project has recognized and honoured 10 local and area veterans in 2022, including one soldier who died at the famous First World War battle of Vimy Ridge and another soldier who served in both the First World War and Second World War.

Now in its fourth year, the project involves displaying large, street lamp-mounted banners around town that feature veteran portraits with their service history.

The project is co-sponsored by the Didsbury Museum, the Royal Canadian Legion, and the Town of Didsbury. 

Each year, the families and descendants of the veterans purchase the banners, which are displayed on the light standards from early October to Remembrance Day.

Each banner is topped with Canadian and British flags as well as the words ‘Lest We Forget’.

Biographies of the veterans have been submitted by their families and compiled by Didsbury’s Grant Hemming. The histories are kept on display year-round at the Didsbury Museum.

Veterans recognized this year are Joseph Emmett Stauffer, Vivian (Bill) Eggins, Ernest Keys Cullen, Lawrence A. Hunter, Brian J. Page, Dorothy Page (Cuttress), Eli Page, Maurice St. Onge, James Worrall and Charles (Chuck) Wrightson.

• Joseph Stauffer was born in Virginia in 1874 and moved to Didsbury in 1903 where he became Didsbury’s first school teacher. He was elected as an MLA in 1909 and re-elected in 1913. He enlisted in the Canada Expeditionary Force in 1916, and died in action during the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 10, 1917 at age 43. The community of Stauffer, Alberta is named in his honour.

• Vivian (Bill) Eggins was born in Bristol, England and served as a private in the Devon Regiment during the First World War, serving in Mesopotamia in the Middle East. He emigrated to Alberta after the war, farming in the Zella area northwest of Didsbury. He re-enlisted when the Second World War began, serving in the Light Anti-Aircraft Battery in the Royal Canadian Army, seeing action at the Aug. 18, 1942 Dieppe Raid. After the war he returned to the district and died in 1974.

• Ernest Keys Cullen was born in Elbow River in what is now the province of Alberta. In 1916 he enlisted in the 137th Battalion “Calgary’s Own”. He saw action at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917, where he was wounded. After recovering in England, he returned to the fighting and was again wounded in Apr. 1918. After war he returned to the district and died in 1988.

• Lawrence A. Hunter was born in Didsbury in 1921 and enlisted in Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in May 1943 and trained as an aero engine machine mechanic. He was assigned to the RCAF #10 repair depot in Calgary and attained the rank of leading air craftsman. After the war he returned to farming in the district and died in 2004.

• Brian J. Page was born in Didsbury in 1923 and enlisted in the RCAF and received aircraft technical training, serving in various postings at repair depots and servicing all types of wartime aircraft. After the war he served at various fighter bases in Europe and Canada and was part of the quality control team on the CR-105 Avro Arrow project. He died in 2021.

• Dorothy Page (Cuttress) joined up to train as a Red Cross Volunteer Aid during the First World War. She served at the convalescent home commandeered by the military at Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England, helping treat and care for severely wounded soldiers throughout the conflict. She married Capt. Eli Page in 1920, and together they immigrated to Alberta and spent a lifetime farming east of Didsbury. 

• Eli Page was born in England and moved to Canada in 1912. He enlisted in 1914 when the First World War began, serving in the Sussex Yeomanry and receiving a commission as second lieutenant. He served in France, Gallipoli (Turkey), and Greece. He returned to Canada in 1920 and farmed east of Didsbury.

• Maurice St. Onge was born in Manitoba and joined the Canadian Army at age 18. He served 14 months in Korea during the Korean War, being repatriated in April 1952. He later joined the RCMP and moved to Didsbury in 1986. He died in 2020.

• James Worrall was born in Rochdale, England in 1886 and moved to Canada as a young man. In 1916 he joined the Canadian Forestry Corps, training in England and then served as a sergeant in the 50th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force in France. He was discharged in 1919 and returned to Canada to farm east of Didsbury. He died in 1981.

• Charles (Chuck) Wrightson served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War, training as a gunner aboard the fleet of defensively equipped merchant ships. He was deployed to the Pacific serving on several ships before returning home in 1946. He later became Didsbury’s postmaster and farmed southeast of town. He died in 1995.

Last year’s Didsbury Veterans Banner Project veterans were D. Crosby Archer, Lewis Brinson, Stan Baptist, Len Berscht, Joe Freeman, James M. Hooper, Henry George Johnston, Donald Pfleger, Florence Slipp and Sid Wilkins.

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