Remembrance Day: Death touches Cowichan Lake during WWII

Rolli Gunderson discusses the young men from around Cowichan Lake who fought and died in World War Two

During the Second World War, the names of several Cowichan casualties appeared in a local paper, many of which had been employed at the Industrial Timber Mill (ITM) in Youbou prior to enlistment. One such young man was Sgt. Albert Patterson, who, at age 27, was killed in action Jul. 7, 1944 during the Battle of Normandy.

After enlistment with the Rocky Mountain Rangers, the young man became impatient to “get overseas” and thus transferred to the 1st Canadian Scottish Regiment hoping he might get into action more quickly. Unfortunately for him, the plan worked but it also brought him early death while serving with the regiment. His parents were later presented the Silver Cross and ribbon by the War Department in Ottawa. The medal was a memorial to their son and the purple ribbon was to be worn by his mother, Mrs. John Patterson of Nanaimo.

Another former ITM mill employee was Lt. Paul Lougheed, who was also killed in action at the Battle of Normandy in 1944.

Employed as a millwright, he was among the first of the ITM employees to volunteer for service with the Canadian Armed Forces. Survived by his wife and mother, Lougheed was married while overseas, and, with his wife, enjoyed a brief furlough to Canada about a year prior to his death.

TPR Edmund Watson, step-son of (then) long- time area resident Shorty Leask, (who came to Lake Cowichan with the railway in the early 1900’s) was killed in action in Italy on Sep. 26, 1944. The 23-year-old had enlisted in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corp (RCASC) in November 1942 and was sent overseas in 1943 after basic training at Camp Borden, Ontario. Watson was also survived by his wife and family.

Former Youbou resident, Pte. Roy Ovington, aged 22, was killed in action in France on Aug. 23, 1944, eight months after army enlistment. His brother Frank received his army call the same day the family received notice of Roy’s death while another brother was serving in France at the time. It is unknown if the two brothers survived the war.