Canadian Ranger Mark Taylor is working to restore a fallen World War II soldier’s monument in Prince Rupert. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

VIDEO: Rangers restore hidden monument to fallen WWII soldier

Only soldier who died in Prince Rupert during World War II remembered

Few remember the fifth of November when 75 years ago a soldier lost his life while on patrol in Prince Rupert.

A concrete relic from the past remains deep in the coastal rainforest, 30 metres from Highway 16 across from the Industrial Park. Approximately two months ago, members of the Port Simpson Canadian Rangers caught wind of the long-forgotten cairn for a World War II soldier.

“To us it seemed like a treasure hunt. We set out one day to locate the memorial to our fallen soldier and once we found it we knew we had a responsibility to fix it up … and make sure he was never forgotten,” said Mark Taylor, who served in the Canadian Armed Forces for eight years, and who is a member of the Canadian Rangers, a reserve force for the military.

Allan Olsen’s cairn before the Canadian Rangers cleared the moss.(Submitted photo)

When the Rangers found the cement pyramid-shaped memorial it was covered in moss, blending in with the surrounding forest. In the following weeks, they cleared a trail, built stairs in some sections and polished the cairn, including the circular brass plate that faces the direction of the highway with the soldier’s name inscribed on the face.

Private Allan Olsen was a member of the Midland Regiment of Ontario that was stationed in Prince Rupert to serve as home defence during World War II. On the evening of Nov. 5, 1942, Olsen was on patrol driving a Bren gun carrier along the newly constructed road. When he turned onto a bridge the light armoured tracked vehicle hit a patch of ice and rolled over. Olsen was pinned to the muddy earth under the vehicle.

The corporal who was with him, managed to escape and hurried back to Frederick Street camp to find help, but Olsen was dead by the time they returned. He was 22 years old. His body was returned to Ontario and buried in Coboconk Cemetery. A year later in Prince Rupert, members of the Midland Regiment, a padre and a firing party unveiled the six-foot cement memorial for Olsen — marking the place where he died.

But as the decades passed, nature slowly reclaimed the monument, and the Midland badge above Olsen’s name disappeared. The cairn was seemingly forgotten, but in 1993 the Daily News reported on efforts to restore it.

“A former Midland officer has sent another badge from Ontario to be mounted on it when it is fixed up, but it will not be put on now as it would possibly just be stolen again,” read one article.

There were also reports that the War Relics Committee planned to move the cairn to the Sunken Gardens behind the Courthouse, but that plan also fell through.

READ MORE: VICTORIA CROSS RECIPIENT REMEMBERED WITH STONE MEMORIAL

The Port Simpson Canadian Rangers don’t have any intention of moving the monument. Instead, they will reinforce the six-foot cement cairn and leave it where it stands.

“Eventually, when we have a more dedicated, solid prominent trail then we’ll start working on the monument itself bringing it back up to par, polishing up the brass, maybe get another cap badge,” Taylor said.

The B.C. Veterans Commemorative Association is also interested in installing a memorial within the city, said northern representative, Kathleen Larkin.

“Even with the Rangers working on it one day it might become overgrown and lost to memory so I wanted to have something in town that was permanent,” she said.

In the meantime, the Rangers, including Taylor, Ed McCarter and Dallas Allison, will continue working on the trail to make it more accessible for people to visit the cairn so it never gets lost again.

“Even if he was an out of towner, he wasn’t a Rupertite, he was still a Rupertite while he was here and he died in Rupert, so we’re going to keep on honouring his legacy,” Taylor said.

READ MORE: THE LAST POST – THE SEARCH FOR THE MAN IN THE CARDBOARD BOX



shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Prince Rupert’s students are baking it all the way to the bank

Charles Hays band students serve up goodies to fund summer trip

Two temporary voyages between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan added to AMHS schedule

October and November will see service to Alaska during the last week of each month

Police still looking for more info on missing mushroom picker in Nass Valley

65-year-old Greg Agnew was reported missing on Sept. 30

Conrad is giving thanks

Conrad students celebrate the holiday with a special meal

Last house standing from Third Ave. fire demolished

Leftover debris has also been cleared from the site

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Advanced polls see 29 per cent increase in voter turn out from 2015

Some 4.7 million people took part, says Elections Canada

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

Pot use admission at U.S. border snagging Canadian boomers, says lawyer

A waiver to enter the U.S. can cost $2,000 and isn’t a guarantee

Health concerns over vaping cast haze over Canadian cannabis market expansion

More than 1,000 people in the United States, and a handful in Canada, have developed a lung ailment

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

B.C. massage therapist reprimanded, fined for exposing patients’ breasts

Registered massage therapist admits professional misconduct

Police still looking for more info on missing mushroom picker in Nass Valley

65-year-old Greg Agnew was reported missing on Sept. 30

Most Read