Monday, 23 April 2018 05:47

Jenner students not allowing WWI soldier to be forgotten

Written by  Jamie Rieger
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Like many rural cemeteries, the one at Jenner was overgrown with weeds and caraganas. Litter from passing vehicles was strewn throughout the final resting place for many local residents.

"When I was in my second year teaching at Jenner, I was driving by the cemetery, something I did every day. I hiked in and saw how overgrown it was," said Jenner School principal, Mark Brown. "I was quite shocked by the conditions. It was in terrible shape. The guy who oversaw it had passed away and it was forgotten about."
One particular gravesite grabbed Brown's attention; that of a World War 1 soldier who had passed away in 1918. When the Remembrance Day service came, Brown asked members of the community if anybody knew who James Tribe, the soldier buried there, was and nobody did.
On the back of Tribe's headstone is inscribed, 'Gone but not Forgotten'. However, it seemed that Private James Tribe was forgotten and Brown, along with his students decided they were going to do something about that.
"Nobody knew who it was, so I decided that we would be changing that," said Brown.
A unique project was created for the Jenner students, one that would start with bringing Tribe's memory to life, and carrying on with beautifying the rest of the cemetery.
"We contacted the federal government and got information on James Tribe. They sent us back the documentation. He died of influenza in November of 1918 and had only enlisted that July. With this information we decided to clean up his grave," said Brown.
They contacted the War Graves Commission and spoke with Brigadier-General (David) Kettle.
"We were told that all Commonwealth graves get checked every six years and they offered us $100 to maintain it each year," said Brown. "The students said they didn't need to do it for the money, but wanted to do it for the sake of doing it."
It was at this point that they hit a roadblock in gathering information on Tribe.
"So, we used Canada 4-1-1 and started calling every Tribe listed in Canada," said Brown.
Wyatt MacLean was one of the students who was involved with the research and has become passionate about the whole project.
"People were shocked when we called them,"
"David Tribe was the first one I talked to and he told me his grandpa was Leonard and great-grandpa was George. He thought George would have been born around the same time as James," said MacLean. "My homework was to phone him back."
James Tribe, son of Thomas Robert and Annie Tribe was born on May 8, 1889. At the age of 29, in 1918, he enlisted in the Army, with the 1st Depot Battalion of the Canadian Infantry (Alberta Regiment). He died of influenza a short time later, on November 26, 1918. Through their research, the students learned that James had a wife named Mildred, who died in child birth. The baby survived and was named Thomas William, after his grandfather.
Through their numerous phone calls across the country, they met a man in Quesnel, British Columbia named Lyle Tribe, who indeed, was a family member of James. In an ironic twist, Brown had met Lyle years earlier when Tribe was a guest drummer when he was teaching at the school in Tilley. Lyle became a huge help to the students with their project.
"Lyle Tribe, from Quesnel was the drummer who I saw when I was teaching in Tilley and we have a picture of James Tribe from that drummer. He sent us a bunch of pictures," said Brown.
While the Jenner students have been focusing on Tribe's gravesite, there are plans to continue with other gravesites, and the cemetery as a whole.
"It was very bad. I think it's something that needs to be done. People throw out cups and cans and they blow into cemetery. The weeds and caraganas were overgrown," said MacLean, adding that contacting Tribe family members has also helped in keeping his memory alive.
"We have reconnected them and sparked something to keep his memory going," he said.
They have also received an email from Brig.-Gen. Kettle that Tribe will be getting a new headstone and the school is hoping to have a ceremony, inviting Tribe family members to attend.
"We will invite all the Tribes to come be a part of this," said Brown.
They have also spoken with the Medicine Hat College about getting some help with restoring other graves at the cemetery to ensure no other Jenner forefather is forgotten.

Read 237 times Last modified on Monday, 23 April 2018 09:22

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