From Lorna Hamilton, Vermilion Voice
November 8th, 2023
In honour of those who have fallen while defending our great country and the democratic rights of all humanity, the Vermilion Royal Canadian Legion Field Marshal Alexander Branch No. 11 (RCL Br. No. 11) has been diligently searching for images and information about those who made the ultimate sacrifice from the County of Vermilion River and its outlying communities.
Barry Roth, from RCL Br. No. 11, stated, “Thus far, the Legion currently displays 39 memorials and is constantly researching for more, as there are well over 100 men and women who were killed in action from this part of the province.”
Recently, the Canadian Fallen Heroes Foundation and Field Marshal Alexander Branch No. 11 of the Royal Canadian Legion acquired two more memorials for their display, thanks to generous donations from the Creech Family at Creech’s Lakeland Funeral Home and Brent Usenik of Integra Tire.
Brent Usenik of Integra Tire commissioned the memorial for Robert Frank Fane, who was born on April 30, 1897, in Surbiton, Surrey, England. He served with the Imperial Service Cadet Corps in Brighton, England before coming to Canada in June 1913. Fane settled in Vermilion, where he became an instructor with the Cadet Corps and worked at the Canadian Bank of Commerce as a bank clerk before enlisting in Vermilion on January 7, 1916.
While overseas, Fane served with the 151st Battalion in October 1916 and was a Private with the Canadian Expeditionary Force attached to the 10th Battalion (Canadians) during the First World War. Fane landed in France in August 1917 with the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade. The 10th Battalion took part in the Battle of Hill 70 against the German 6th Army near Lens, France, and advanced into the Ypres sector in October 1917 to prepare for the Second Battle of Passchendaele.
Private Robert Frank Fane tragically lost his life while fighting near Passchendaele on November 11, 1917. He is commemorated in the Menin Gate (Ypres) Memorial Book, Volume I, Letter from the Front. Fane was the youngest son of Sidney Lee and Annie Ellen (nee Seaborn) Fane of London, England, and was a brother of Amy Constance, Daisy Ellen, Doris Susie, Edward James, Ena Mary, Ivy Annie, and Kate May Fane. He was just 20 years old.
The Creech family of Creech’s Lakeland Funeral Home commissioned a memorial for Leo Norman Selthun, who was born on October 26, 1918, in Avonlea, Saskatchewan. Selthun briefly attended school in Wilcox, Saskatchewan before moving to Alberta, where his family farmed in Islay, and he helped with the family farm. Selthun received his education at Morrison School and enjoyed hockey, tennis, and softball. Before enlisting in Edmonton in May of 1941, he worked as a hotel clerk and bartender for Mrs. R. Culford in Vermilion.
Selthun was known for his keen intellect and quiet disposition. He served with the Royal Canadian Air Force, attached to No. 489 (NZ) Squadron (Whakatanagata kia kaha), as a Flying Officer (Wireless Operator/Air Bomber) during the Second World War. This anti-submarine torpedo bomber unit, formed under RAF Coastal Command as part of 18 Group, patrolled the English Channel and North Sea in Hampdens for German U-boats and submarines. Operating from RAF Skitten at Killimster near Watten, Caithness, Scotland.
Flying Officer Leo Norman Selthun went missing on April 9, 1943, over Trondheim fjord in Norway during a reconnaissance patrol when his Hampden was shot down by German flak. On April 18, 1943, Selthun’s body washed up on the coast of Norway, and he is commemorated at Trondheim (Stavne) Cemetery, Norway. Selthun was the son of Andrew and Nellie (nee Stinseth) Selthun of Ardmore, Alberta, and was a brother of Ray, Melvin, Bella, Helen, Fred, and Jean. He was just 24 years old.
The Royal Canadian Legion is always in search of other fallen soldiers to add to the Memorial wall. Barry Roth explained, “To create memorials, we require photos, usually with the member in a military uniform, information on the Regiment or Squadron the person was assigned to, and a short write-up on where the person lived. We will create memorials for the fallen from anywhere within the County of Vermilion River or its close proximity. We would like to thank the Vermilion Voice for helping reach those we have not contacted.”
If you know of a fallen soldier, you can contact your local Legion, and they will forward your information to the Canadian Fallen Heroes Foundation member in charge.