Drumheller man produces books to commemorate fallen soldiers for local communities | DrumhellerMail
Last updateWed, 28 Feb 2024 12pm

Drumheller man produces books to commemorate fallen soldiers for local communities

reg.jpg    A Drumheller man’s dedication to the remembrance of those who served the country at war, has led him on a journey of research and learning.     Reg Bennett began an isolated project about a decade ago. That has led to him compiling ten honour roll books covering 17 communities in Canada. The books research each of the members of these communities who were killed in war. In all, he has researched about 500 servicemen.
    The first book he completed was the honour roll for Drumheller. On behalf of the Navy League, he presented the book to the Drumheller Legion on Remembrance Day in 1999. While it was the first book he published, his inspiration came from researching his namesake.
    Growing up, he knew he was named after his great uncle. All the family knew was a story that has almost became legendary. It was said his uncle Percy Bennett walked 30 miles to a POW camp to find his brother, George Reginald Bennett, had passed away. Through Bennett’s research, he found out his uncle died at a military hospital in France. Percy came to visit him, but arrived shortly after George Reginald perished.
    After researching the story of his uncle, he was at a Remembrance Day Ceremony in Drumheller, and in the program, the honour roll was listed. Many of the entries only contained the last name, a few had initials, and even fewer had rank. He thought ‘why not research these names?’ and the Drumheller book was born.
    Bennett briefly left the valley to live in Stettler and decided to create a book for that community, and presented it on November 11, 2006. He also finished a book on Cannings, Nova Scotia, his great uncle’s hometown.
    After that, he began working on the honour rolls for a number of eastern Alberta communities including Big Valley, Delia (which includes Craigmyle, and Michichi), East Coulee, Morrin (Munson and Orkney), Rumsey (Rowley), Delburne (Ardley and Elnora) and most recently Wainwright.
    His quest continues, as he is actively researching Carbon, Three Hills, Trochu, Strathmore, Standard, Hanna, and Camrose.
    Through his project, he has learned many interesting facts and stories about the servicemen and women he has researched. He came across his first record of a woman killed while working on the Wainwright book. She was injured in a training accident in Ottawa. Her family was notified and boarded a train to see her. She perished before they arrived, and she was taken home to be buried.
    He has also seen a crossover as well. For example, Aubrey Bell appears on the cenotaphs in Drumheller, Orkney, Michichi and Munson.
    Bennett has also found many errors he hopes can be corrected. He explains often the names are taken from documents where the writing is in script, and often errors are made in transposition. He also works hard to find omissions and have them added to cenotaphs and memorials. For example, George Dovetail Greentree, the youngest son of the founder of Drumheller does not appear on the Drumheller cenotaph, but he is on the Strathmore monument.
 Bennett's work continues to help others in the way he was initially doing research on a family member.   
    “At one time I wanted information on the servicemen of our town and I couldn’t find it. So I am pretty sure there are others out there who want information,” he said.
    He says not long ago, one of Drumheller's fallen servicemen's grandson from Ottawa was in the valley and sought out Bennett. They chatted for about two hours, and now the grandson is sending pictures and records of his grandfather.
    Bennett is a volunteer with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Canadian Great War Project.
    He is excited with the prospect of having his research posted online. Currently he is working with The Drumheller Mail to have his work posted at www.drumhellermail.com for a wider audience.
    When he completes the honour roll for each community, he provides copies to the respective Legion as well as the library in the community.
    “Anything I find, I pass along and share, lest we forget,” said Bennett.

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