Gill Family: Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Gill, Ethel, Grace, Olive and Keith. SUBMITTED PHOTO

REMEMBRANCE DAY: Keith Gill’s letters from the War

Aneesha Narang’s panel on Alberni Valley soldier Keith Gill

  • Nov. 10, 2017 12:00 p.m.

Prepared by Aneesha Narang

Keith Gill by Elena Rardon on Scribd

Keith Gill was born in Alberni on June 22, 1893 to Edith and Ed Gill. Both his parents were early pioneer settlers, each of them having walked to the Alberni Valley through the Horn Lake trail in the late 1800’s. The Gills were a farming family, settling in the Beaver Creek area. They were active in the community and their children enjoyed a fun and active life while growing up on a large family farm. In the summer of 1887, Ed Gill, along with George Huff, built the Beaver Creek and Alberni Schools; later, named Gill school in honor of Ed Gill. Keith was a laborer in the Alberni Valley and prior to 1914, relocated to Quebec.

Keith enlisted in the army in Valcartier, Quebec on September 23, 1914 in the Seventh Battalion and shipped overseas on 03 October, 1914. At some point in the early part of the war, he sent the following letter home: “We are in the thick of it now, and I don’t get much time to write, as we are in the trenches as much as we are out of them. We are getting pretty well used to the firing now. I have fired quite a few shots at the Germans, but I don’t know if I have killed any of them or not. I got hold of a German rifle and ammunition the other day and I used it to shoot at them with. This saved my own from getting dirty. I don’t know what they would say if they knew we were shooting at them with their own rifles. The trenches are so close that we yell back and time. The most of them can speak English, so we can tell what they are saying. I am feeling fine myself, and getting along fine. This country might be all right in peace times, but is sure badly battered up just at present. I guess they will build it up again when the war is over. I wish it was over now because I would like to be back among the timber and the mountains. I am getting tired of this settled country.”1

Keith was discharged on 29 September, 1915 in Quebec at age twenty-two. By the end of his time while in the war, the battles he fought in included: Neuve Chappelle, Festubert, and Ypres. In October of 1915, Keith returned home as a hero. Later, that summer he entered an organized swimming competition with eight competitors. The race was from Alberni to Port Alberni due to choppy waters most did not finish. He worked at various jobs in and around the Alberni Valley, farming, logging and mill work. He died in April 1967 in the Alberni Valley.

1. Letter Reference: “The Albernis 1860-1922”, 1992, Jan Peterson, Oolichan Books.

Just Posted

High Streamflow Advisory issued for Somass River

Storm not letting up anytime soon

Nutcracker performance kicks off holiday season in Alberni

The show will be at the ADSS Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 25

Electoral reform an attack on democracy, Stone says

Liberal leadership contender meets with supporters in Port Alberni

Alternatives for Stamp Avenue pathway suggested

City of Port Alberni looking to stay within budget for cycling infrastructure

Alberni company recognized for technological significance

Coulson Ice Blast gets the nod from Research and Development Awards

‘Tis the season in the Alberni Valley

Port Alberni gets ready for the holiday season

David Cassidy, teen idol and ‘Partridge Family’ star, dies at 67

Cassidy announced earlier this year he had been diagnosed with dementia

Vigil held for woman whose remains were found on Shuswap farm

Family and friends remember Vernon resident Traci Genereaux and along with five other missing women

LETTER: Jumbo Valley is part of Ktunaxa territorial claim

Ktunaxa Nation Council responds to Tom Fletcher column

3,800-plant grow-op busted on First Nation reserve

Three men face charges after RCMP bust a large drug operation on the Soowahlie Reserve near Chilliwack

VIDEO: Government approves funding of $750,000 drug for B.C. woman

Approval comes one day after province announces funding for Soliris on a case-by-case basis

B.C. boy’s social media bid to get levidrome in the Oxford dictionary goes viral

‘It’s been five weeks and has totally blown up today.’

Whistler venues could see 2026 Olympic action

Calgary is looking to cut down on costs

Michael Buble announced as 2018 Juno host in Vancouver

Awards will celebrate Canadian talent in March

Most Read