September 10, 2022. Sometimes a photo request that Pieter receives brings back childhood memories… and is the impetus for choosing which name to research out of dozens on a list. That was the case when we looked at the list of photo requests from the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands, and I saw that one of the soldiers, Neville William NISBET, was listed as being from Flin Flon, Manitoba.
“That’s a soldier you have to research!” I said to Pieter. “I’ve been to Flin Flon!”
Big deal, Pieter thought. Since I was born in Winnipeg, it was no surprise to him that I’ve been to places in Manitoba. But he had no idea how far north Flin Flon was and how the name captured the imagination of two young kids – my brother and me – when we travelled there with our parents, and had a photo taken at the statue at the edge of town.
Flin Flon, located in northern Manitoba, is named after Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin, a science fiction character from the 1905 book The Sunless City, by British writer J.E. Preston Muddock. (See https://www.erbzine.com/mag18/sunless.htm) When a mining prospector found and read a copy of the book in a cabin near the future town site in 1915, he named his claim Flin Flon, and that became the name of the town.
……Neville Nisbet was not born in Flin Flon!…
When Pieter began his research, however, he learned that Neville wasn’t born in Flin Flon, but in Stonewall, just outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Neville was born on August 7, 1916, son of William J. and Lillian (nee Bennett) Nisbet.
According to the May 13, 1936 edition of the Stonewall Argus newspaper, Neville left Stonewall to take a position in Herb Lake (near Snow Lake) in northern Manitoba with Laguna Gold Mines Ltd.
By the time of his enlistment in Winnipeg at No. 10 District Depot on June 22, 1944, Neville was living in Flin Flon, where he was employed as a millwright with Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company. He had married Hazel Umpherville in Flin Flon on December 8, 1938, and by 1944 they had two children.
….Neville’s son provided a photo…
Neville’s son Don provided a photo, explaining that “…we have very few pictures of my father…. Thanks for your work on this project…”
…Neville’s military service began in Manitoba and ended in Germany…
After enlisting, Neville was sent to #103rd Canadian Infantry Basic Training Centre (CIBTC) in Winnipeg. On September 16, 1944, he was transferred to A15 Canadian Infantry Training Centre (CITC) in Shilo, Manitoba.
On January 5, 1945, Neville was transferred to the No. 2 Transit Camp in Debert, Nova Scotia in preparation for going overseas on January 11, 1945. He arrived in the United Kingdom on January 18, 1945 and was attached to the Canadian Infantry Training Regiment (CITR).
He was sent to northwest Europe on March 18, 1945, and then transferred to the Lincoln and Welland Regiment on April 6, 1945. The Regiment was near Delden, The Netherlands and had just captured the Twentecanal.
On April 7, 1945, the Regiment left Delden to join the rest of the Division already advancing into Germany.
…The Regiment fought for control of Bad Zwischenahn….
The War Diary for the Lincoln and Welland Regiment for April 25, 1945 noted that the Regiment “…was to come under command of 4th Canadian Armoured Brigade at 0700 hour tomorrow. The Brigade’s objective was to be the town of Bad Zwischenahn…” (See https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/history/battlehonours/northwesteurope/badzwischenahn.htm)
The War Diary entry for May 1, 1945 recorded that “…the emissary had been sent into the town of Bad Zwischenahn and the town had surrendered…” and that the Regiment was to be part of the 10th Brigade. They were ordered to begin the move through Bockhorn and Neuenburg.
On May 2, 1945, under weather that was cloudy with rain, the War Diary entry stated that forward movement was hampered due to encountering heavy resistance, with artillery and sniper attacks. At some point during that day, Neville lost his life, aged 28.
…Neville was buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten….
Neville was initially buried east of Bad Zwischenahn, Germany, before being reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands on March 16, 1946.
….Nisbet Lake in northern Manitoba is named in his honour…..
Nisbet Lake in northern Manitoba was named after Neville in 1974.
…Another soldier who lost his life near Bad Zwischenahn…
John ‘Jack’ Langford WALKER, who was with the 21st Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Governor General’s Foot Guards), died near Bad Zwischenahn on April 30, 1945. You can read his story here: https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2022/07/13/on-the-war-memorial-trail-in-north-bay-the-ww2-soldier-who-lost-his-life-on-the-day-hitlers-death-was-announced/
Thank you to Don Nisbet for providing a photo, and thank you to Judie Klassen for help in finding family and newspaper articles. If you have a story to tell, please let Pieter know. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.
…Want to follow our research?….
Daria’s book ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten‘ is available in print and e-book formats. For more information see https://nosoldierforgotten.com/
You are also invited to subscribe to our YouTube Channel: On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ591TyjSheOR-Cb_Gs_5Kw.
© Daria Valkenburg