The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

November 16, 2005

Nov. 16, 2005 – Year of the Veteran

This being the year of the Veteran and with Nov. 11 th fast approaching I thought I would devote this column to the men and women of Springhill who have fought for our freedom.

At the start of World War 1 the men and boys of Springhill lined up to enlist. The first contingent of men to go overseas in August of that year saw 9 Officers and one hundred twenty eight men from Springhill. About five hundred men in all went over from here which was the second largest percentage per capita in Canada . Seventy –Six of these men never returned from the war.

During this time the YMCA building which sat on the corner of Main St. and Junction Rd. was used as a temporary military station. A part of the 106 th regiment was mobilized in Springhill. The Anglican Parish Hall, across the road, was used as mess quarters and the men were billeted upstairs. An armed patrolman marched between the two places.

Some of the men from Springhill were awarded decorations for bravery. Harry Danson was the first Canadian to be awarded a medal. He was given the Distinguished Conduct Metal (DCM). Ernest Cooper, Alfred Archibald, Archie Potter and Harry Davies were also given the DCM.

The Military Medal (MM) was awarded to Harry Davies, James Maddison, James McCallum, Harold Simpson (Bar), William Littler, William Leggett (Bar), Hector Bryan, Michael Cameron, Rod McDonald, George Lysaght, Fred Brown.

Military Cross (MC) went to R.R. Murray (Bar) and Charles Allbon who was given his medal at the front.

Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) to Frank McLellan

Victoria Cross (VC) to Peter Robertson

George Medal to Thomas Corkin

After World War 1, a War Memorial was erected on the corner of Main Street and Junction Road . It was unveiled in 1929 with the names of those who had given their lives for the freedom of others.

During World War 2, Springhill had the largest percentage of men from any Canadian town, to enlist. This was even when one local recruiting office had a sign that said “If you are a Springhill Miner you are needed in the mines, not in the army”. Among those who enlisted were two Springhill women; Betty Killen joined the Royal Canadian Air force Women’s Division and Ruth (Fawcett) Harrison joined the Royal Canadian Medical Corps as a nurse and went overseas in 1943.

Tony Condy was the first Canadian to receive a medal in the Second World War. He received the British Empire medal.

Five men from Springhill were taken prisoner of war: Murray Cottenden, Wes Fraser, Lloyd Roblee, Jack Russell and Theodore Joseph Hibberts.

Harry Ward was injured during the war and became a paraplegic. He founded the Canadian Paraplegic Association and worked tirelessly for the association until his death.

Of the men from Springhill who enlisted three of them were Padres – Raymond Cummingham, George Hatton and Harold Graven. The Ottawa Journal ran an article on Padre Harold Graven RCN telling of how you would see him riding a motor bike up and down the invasion coast between the bases to get to the places they needed a padre.

Fifty four Springhillers lost their lives in World War 11 and their names were added to the War Memorial.

A Red Cross Ambulance was sent overseas, during the Second World War by two Springhillers – Dr. Harold Simpson and Harry Fox.

In 1944 there was a frigate commissioned and named after the Town of Springhill .

During the Korean Campaign two more Springhillers lost their lives. They were: Donald Spence and Ralph E. Turnball.