1896 - 2000
Kitchener Legion branch proudly bears the name of comrade Fred Gies
a local Veteran on World War One.
The branch was renamed on the occasion of his 100th birthday on 17th
September 1996 in recognition of his remarkable contributions to
Canada, The Royal Canadian Legion, and his community.
Fred, or as he was affectionately called,
"Goose", was born on September 17, 1896 in
Berlin, Ontario. He enlisted in the army at London, Ontario on
Sept. 6, 1915. He served with the 13th Battalion of the Royal
Highlanders in France, fighting in the trenches on the front line
on May 6, 1916. Fred was in combat at the Battle of the Somme in
In September of the same year, he survived a bomb that injured
his shoulder. He was then captured and held as a prisoner of war
for a year in a camp at Aldaum. Fred was later sent to West
Prussia to work in a lumber camp. In total he spent two years and
three months as a PoW.
Fred returned to Canada in February 1919 settling in Toronto where he
returned to work as a machinist. After his marriage in 1921, he began a
34-year career as a letter carrier.
Fred Gies passed away on the 11th of August, 2000.
In the foyer of the current facility you will
find a plaque memorializing Comrade Gies which includes his first
world war decorations.
Mr. Gies was nearing his 100th birthday when the
interview was recorded during the summer of 1996 at his residence
in Kitchener, Ontario.
Interviewer: Were you in the trenches?
Yes, in the trenches, in, on May the 6th. We went in the
trenches, that was the front line.
Interviewer: Yes, what was life like there?
It wasn't too bad, but the Germans broke through on June
the second 1916 from a frontline, and so we forced marched
up to hold... to try and hold the line anyway and then on
June the 12th we went up and took our but with an awful
lot of losses. We had 550 and we come out with 112.
Interviewer: Oh Dear, that's terrible eh, yeah? So
you saw a lot of the enemy?
Yes, we saw a few of them. But, I think the worst was when
we moved to France. I was sick at the time I didn't have
to march down, they had me in the hospital. So ah, when we
got to France on the Somme, yeah that was wicked. The mud,
it was all mud everything, was it mud holes you know.
Interviewer: Were you affected by the gas? Where
there any gas raids when you were there?
No, there was no gas at all. You didn't have gas in 16.
Interviewer: Were you wounded?
Yes, that's why I was wounded in the shoulder in on the
um... when I was taken prisoner I was wounded in the, I
got three holes in the shoulder from the wounds and that's
was were the shrapnel still comes out of you know.
Interviewer: And you were taken prisoner?
Yeah, taken prisoner on September the 28th.
Interviewer: How did they treat you?
Well, I think I had a little bit better treatment than the
average. The, we weren't treated as bad, the British
weren't treated as bad as the Russians. We, we used to
have the Russians, see they were see they'd be working on
farms and if they had misdemeanour they were sent back to
camp and then they gave them a hellish treatment (Did
they?). In front of the prison, in front of the British,
the British huts you know (Yeah?). I don't, whether there
was supposed to say this might happen to you some day so
yes, so (You be careful). Anyway I was the interpreter,
chief interpreter, and then finally they, we moved, we
were moved to a lumber camp with only twenty men going up
and there I was more or less the chief but I still worked
the same as the other people did.
Interviewer: And how long were you a prisoner?
For over two and a half, two years and a quarter, two
years (Until, 'til the armistice?) Till the armistice.
Then they come to me and asked "What do you want to do? Do
you want to go right back to camp now or right away or do
you want to wait? If you wait we'll look after you. You
will get the same pay, we got 4 cent an hour, but they get
the same food. We, had one, one good meal a day is what
they provided us. And the rest was from, through the
parcel post (Through the Red Cross?) Through Red Cross
yeah. We got a parcel about every fifteen days through the
Interviewer: And they were good to you the Red
The Red Cross was good and then when we did go on strike
they were holding our parcels for about two weeks anyway,
or three. We were right down to our last tin of, of corned
beef for the twenty of us.
Interviewer: And why, ehy did you go on strike?
Well, they thought the tin goods contained poison. So we
were going to poison their animals. And that's the reason
we went on strike.
Interviewer: So you as prisoners actually went on
If it had happened in Hitler's time we'd a been dead.
Interviewer: I am sure you would have been. Yes.
That is very interesting. And who liberated your camp?
Nobody, no after the ah, as I said they asked me what we
want to do. So I says "I'll ask the boys" (Yeah) When we
get back to camp, I'll wait a minute, our quarters, we were
billeted like in a, in a hotel in the dance hall. So ah, I
says we'll ask them I'll and let you know in the morning.
So I says they have decided to stay there until the call
come. We only went back to the camp for over night and the
next day we were on a boat out to go to Denmark.
Interviewer: Wonderful, now, so the Germans
announced that the, that the armistice was on to you?
Yeah they told me right away
Nov 09, 1998: Fred Gies Receives France's Top Honour
Nov 10, 2000: Veteran of First World War Dies At Age 103
Nov 12, 2000: Fred Gies, Lest We Forget
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