High Prairie Legion president Don Ebbett says a soldier’s greatest fear is that we will not remember.
Each year, as Remembrance Day rolls around, I always think of one man. He was not a relative, a friend I went to school or college with, not even a close acquaintance. Frankly, as a child, he scared me a bit!
Fred Knott was a farmhand in the Gage area where I was raised. Many farmers, including my father, used to hire Fred as a farmhand. He was an excellent fencer, and everyone in the family hated fencing!
Fred would go to work with hammer, nails and barbed wire in hand. Many times, my brother Ben followed him. I didn’t know why until later.
I was in elementary school when Fred was in the area. He was known to take to the bottle. When he drank, Fred, like most people, became very loud. He scared me a bit but there was nothing to be afraid of. Fred was a kind, gentle man when sober and never violent when drunk.
Fred died on March 26, 1976 at the young age of 54. It was only after Fred died that I began to learn about him.
Fred and his uncle, Larry Supernault, and his brother, Robert Knott, joined the Canadian Army on April 23, 1941. Fred was shipped overseas as a corporal where he was critically wounded on the front lines in Europe. He was hospitalized and partially disabled the rest of his life.
My brother was fascinated with war stories. It was the reason Ben spent many hours with Fred talking about the war. I didn’t realize this until after Fred’s death.
Fred was very willing to share his experiences. How I wish I could have heard first-hand some of his stories.
We have all heard many stories of the sacrifices our war heroes made while serving our country. For Fred, the service continued after he returned home. Fred refused every benefit he was entitled to until the last five years of his life. It was not about the money for Fred, it was about serving the country he loved.
In his last years, Fred lived a meager existence in an old granary. With a little more money, he could have lived a little better. The thought apparently never entered his mind. What can you say about a man like that?
Fred also had a great love for animals. He would walk from Gage [near Fairview] to Dawson Creek to fetch a pet dog he wanted to bring home.
Fred was a hero. Like many others, he served his country with love and without thought of ever taking from it, until later in life. For 25 years he refused the money he was entitled to.
Each year since, I have remembered.
On pages 20 and 33 this week, you will read the thoughts on Remembrance Day from High Prairie Air Cadets members. Each is special in its own way, each adheres to the wish of Ebbett and veterans: to never forget.
Fred was one of our finest citizens. Our many, many finest citizens.
May he rest in peace with the others.