The Regina Cemetery is filled with the stories of men and women who were involved in both World Wars. Some of these worked in immigration, security, education or manufacturing. Some of these are even victims of war, separated by their families by the Holocaust, the creation of the Berlin Wall or by choosing to start a new life in Canada. War touched the essence of thousands of people buried in the cemetery, but only a select few have the distinction of say they put their lives on the line for our country.
This list isn’t comprehensive and doesn’t tell the whole history of the events that unfolded. For that, please play Regina Cemetery Tours – The Game. If you know of any other veterans who fought in the war, please contact us and tell us about them. We would love to add them to our game.
We would also like to remind readers that there is a Remembrance Day service in the (real) Regina Cemetery on November 11.
Neil “Piffles” Taylor (1895-1946)
Taylor was born in Collingwood, Ontario, but was raised in Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan. At the age of 21, in 1916, he joined the Canadian Air Force alongside his brother Sam Taylor.
During one particular air battle of Germany, he and his brother’s planes were shot down by German aircraft. Sam would die, but Neil would only lose his eye. He would then be captured by the Germans and held in a prisoner-of-war camp for the rest of the war.
When he returned to Canada, he became a quarterback for the Regina Roughriders (later the Saskatchewan Roughriders). He would later be the executive and president of the organisation. “Taylor Field” is named in his honour.
John Zora (1922 – 1943)
Zora enlisted to train as a pilot during World War II with the Royal Canadian Air Force. One week before he was scheduled to receive his wings, Zora was killed in a mid-air collision three miles east of Mehan, Saskatchewan.
Detective Charles Millar (1894-1935)
Millar served in World War I with the 52nd Battalion when he suffered a major head injury in combat. When the war ended, he and his wife Margaret moved to Canada and settled in Regina in 1920. In 1929 Millar was promoted to a detective. A year later the Great Depression hit.
By 1935 times were rough in Canada, and the federal government had created a work-camp program to harbour and employ farmers and labourers. However, the wage paid at these camps were very little and the treatment of the workers was abysmal. Frustrated with their treatment, the workers began an “On-to-Ottawa” journey across Canada to meet with Prime Minister R.B. Bennett. Their mode of transportation was the railroad, and they were collecting hundreds of new members at every railway station they stopped at.
Prime Minister Bennet would request the Royal Northwest Mounted Police to shut down the railroad. This forced the farmers, known as the “trekkers”, to collect in Regina. After a failed attempt to discuss issues with the Prime Minister, a rally was held to tell the trekkers what had happened. During the rally, police infiltrated the group to arrest the leaders. This sparked the Regina Riot.
Detective Millar would be attacked and beaten to death by trekkers during the riot. It is believed his head injuries from the war are what led to the attack being so fatal.
Sergeant William Wilson Boyd (1878-1922)
Boyd was born in Grey Country, Ontario, and came west with his family in 1890. At 19, he joined the North West Mounted Police and was involved in Northwest Resistance and served in Yukon during the Gold Rush. Boyd would also serve overseas during World War I when he was promoted to sergeant.
When he returned to Canada, Boyd resigned from the force and returned to farming. He would die at his farm in 1922, with reports that his wartime injured contributed to his death.
Genhachi Sasaki (1889 – 1931)
Genhachi Sasaki was a Japanese-Canadian volunteer who served in World War I. He would survive the war but died accidentally in a train at the Regina Depot in 1931.
Although he served in the war, he would not have been able to fight in World War II due to his Japanese ancestry.
Lieutenant Roland J. Groome (1897 – 1935)
Groome served in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I and would return to a rapidly growing aviation scene in Canada. He lived in Regina and became Canada’s first pilot, first commercial pilot and owned and operated Canada’s first “air harbour” on the corner of Cameron Street and Hill Avenue. In 1927 he would set up Universal Air Industries at a new airfield called “Lakeview Aerodrome”, near the intersection of Albert Street and 25th Avenue.
He died in 1935 during a plane crash just outside the current Regina International Airport.
Colonel James Albert Cross, D.S.O. (1876-1952)
Born in Caledonia Springs, Ontario, Cross came to Regina in 1898. He went to school for law and became one of Saskatchewan’s most upstanding lawyers. In 1909 he moved into civic politics and ran a seat on the Regina Public School Board.
When World War I broke out in 1914, Cross travelled overseas, took part in the Battle of Vimy Ridge and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He would then be sent back to Britain and become commandant at Bramshott Camp.
While overseas, Cross was elected to the Saskatchewan Legislature as the soldier’ representative for Regina in 1917. Upon his return to Canada in 1918, he was promoted to colonel and in 1919 he resumed his interest in politics.
In 1921 he was re-elected in the riding of Willow Bunch and became the Attorney General and minister in charge of the Bureau of Child Protection in 1922. Although he was offered a position in the Gardiner cabinet in 1927, he retired from politics and resumed his legal practice. He formally retired in 1949 and died three years later.
Lest we forget.