June 2 marks the 100th year anniversary of the death of John Gallacher, the last of four firefighters who were killed in action in World War One. The Calgary Fire Department will honour those four members at a ceremony at the Cenotaph in Central Memorial Park, 1221 – 2 St S.W. at noon on June 2. Members of the public are invited to attend.
The Calgary Fire Department Honour Guard and a piper from the Calgary Fire Department Pipes and Drums Band will open and close the ceremony. The event will conclude with the laying of wreaths at the cenotaph.
Fifty-five Calgary firefighters served in World War One. When they enlisted, they did so knowing that they would be able to return to their jobs thanks to a new fire department policy. Forty-Three firefighters resumed their duties in Calgary after the war.
Four heroes who did not return
Private Walter Bartlett was killed on the front lines while serving with the Canadian Army Service Corps in May 1915. He was 27. Bartlett is buried in the Boulogne East Cemetery in France.
Private Arthur Bowden was seriously wounded in combat and eventually died in May 1916 at a base hospital in France. He served with the Canadian Pioneers. The 30-year-old was a member of Calgary Fire for two and a half years before enlisting. He is buried in the Ypres Resevoir Cemetery in Belgium.
Lance Corporal Eric Burton was 22 when he died in May 1915. He was among the first recruits to leave with The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry early on in the war. He is buried in the Lijssenthoek Miltary Cemetery in Belgium.
Corporal John Gallacher was killed June 2, 1916 while fighting with The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Gallacher joined Calgary Fire in the fall 1912. He was 24. Along with 55,000 other allied soldiers killed in the battle for the Ypres Salient, whose bodies were never recovered, he is remembered on the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.
For more on Canada’s role in World War One, visit the Canadian War Museum website.