Private Einar Stokke – Mentioned in Despatches

Einar Stokke was born in Norway just after the First World War, moving to Canada and settling in Lougheed, Alberta. In 1939, he enlisted in the Canadian Army; after discharge in 1945 he sold life insurance throughout western Canada, and belonged to the Royal Canadian Legion and Christian Fellowship, as well as being a Founding President of the Lethbridge Chapter of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship. Private Stokke joined the Calgary Highlanders with Regimental Number M12124 and was with the original contingent when it sailed on the SS Pasteur in 1940 for the United Kingdom.

When Einar Stokke passed away in Calgary on 9 February 1984, he left behind his wife Dorothy, step sons Roy McMann, Wade McMann, Lee McMann, and Dale McMann, as well as two daughters, Mrs. B. (Elizabeth) Kelly and Mrs. R. (Lorraine) Waring, as well as step daughter Mrs. Darlene Young.

The following telegrams were received following the fighting at Hill 67 in late July 1944:

  • Ottawa Ont July 29th 5.01PM. 1944. Mr. Ivar Stokke. Lougheed, Alta. 18464 Minister of National Defense deeply regrets to inform you that M 12024 Private Einar Stokke Has been officially reported missing in action twentieth July 1944 Stop When further information becomes available it will be forwarded as soon as received. Director of Records. 4.35PM
  • Bognor Regis Aug 5/44 NLT Stokke. Lougheed, Alta. All Our Sympathy while we await news of Einar But Great Faith in his wellbeing. John Stokke. Mrs and Arthur Cubbon. 8.47A
  • Ottawa, Ont Aug 15th 1944. Mister Ivar Stokke. Lougheed, Alta. 7191 Minister of National Defense deeply regret to inform you that M 12024 Private Einar Stokke previously reported Missing in action has been officially reported killed in action Twentieth July 1944 stop If any further information becomes available it will be forwarded as soon as received. Director of Records. 2.29PM

A letter dated 31 August 1944 was sent to the family, by the District Chaplain of Military District 13 in Calgary; the letter, addressed to Mr. Ivar Stokke, expressed sympathy on the loss of his son.

An Obituary was published in Lougheed, which read:

  • Word has been received by Mr. and Mrs. I. Stokke that their eldest son, Einar, has been killed in action in France. Born in Bergen, Norway, June 29 1918, he came to Canada with his parents in 1927, and settled here where he obtained his schooling and remained to the time of his enlistment with the Calgary Highlanders in 1940. Married in England he is survived besides his parents by his wife and daughter, one brother John, with the Norwegian Air Force in England and one sister, Lorraine at home.

A new round of telegrams began to arrive in September 1944:

  • Sans Origin Sep 27 via Edmonton, Alta. Stokke. Lougheed, Alta. Einars Safe Lucky us Love. John Stokke.
  • Viz Bexhill on sea Sept 27/44 Mr and Mrs I Stokke. Lougheed, Alta. Just Received Card Einar Prisoner Writing. Molley.Stokke.

And finally, notification from the Department of National Defence:

  • Via Edmonton Ottawa Ont. Sept 30, 1944. Mr. Ivor Stokke. Report Delivery. Lougheed, Alta. 11552 Minister of Defence wishes to inform you that M 12024 Private Enior Stokke Previously reported Killed in Action Has Now Been Reported Prisoner of War Camp Stalag 12A Germany Prisoner of War Number Unstated stop If any further information becomes available it will be forwarded as soon as received. Director of Records 3.21PM

The telegram was followed by a letter received in October 1944, when Einar’s mother received an ironic gift from the Government.

This Memorial Cross is forwarded to you on behalf of the Government of Canada in memory of one who died in the service of her country. Minister of National Defence.

A letter dated 15 December 1944 from a Sergeant Mak Kirkman to Einar’s parents read in part:

Einar Stokke sure made a name for himself with all those guys. They said he didn’t know what fear was. When all the rest were hiding in a slit trench he would be right out in front hauling the wounded Joe’s in under cover. Everyone I told that I knew him, they would say, ‘That Stokke was one real man, he didn’t give a damn for anything.’ That’s not much consolation for a life but it helps to know that, if he had to go he went right. It makes one proud to say he was a friend of mine. Mr. and Mrs. Stokke will probably have all the dope by now, but you can tell them what his mate’s thought of him, if you like.

Some ten months after his capture, another telegram arrived at the Stokke home in Lougheed, this time from their son.

Via Imperial, Great Britain. May 5th, 1945. Mrs. I. Stokke. Lougheed, Atla. Repatriated to England My address is ‘Liberated P.O.W. Canadian Army Overseas’ Love to all the Family AM well and fit. E. Stokke 4.46PM

And an official letter three days later:

  • Ottawa Ont May 8/45 Mr. Ivar Stokke. Lougheed, Alta. 1139 Pleased to inform you that M 12024 Private Einor Stokke previously reported Prisoner of war Germany is now officially Reported Safe in United Kingdom fifth May 1945 stop Address Mail Liberated Prisoners of War Canadian Army Overseas stop When further information becomes available it will be forwarded soon as received. Director of Records 8.37A

Two newspaper articles in June continued to misinform about the fate of Einar Knokke, and the following information comes from this website:

  • Newspaper Article: – Alberta Soldier Gets Posthumous Honor From Army – Ottawa, June 5. — Defence headquarters last night announced awards of mention in dispatches to three Canadian soldiers for gallant and distinguished service in action in the Northwest European theatre of operations. No citations were given. Two of the solders were killed in action, and the other has since died of accidental injuries, the announcement said. Recipients included Pte. Einar Stokke, Airdrie and Lougheed, Alberta, who was later killed in action.
  • Newspaper Article – Edmonton Journal, Edmonton, Alberta, Monday June 11, 1945. Soldiers Death Report ‘Greatly Exaggerated’ — ‘Killed’ according to Ottawa archives, but alive in Europe is the present status of Pte. Einar Stokke of Airdrie and Lougheed. Pte. Stokke and his family are not complaining but they would like the official confusion at Ottawa straightened out, especially for the benefit of Pte. Stokke’s friends who may have read the erroneous reports of his death. A recent Ottawa report announced the posthumous award of ‘mentioned in dispatches’ to Pte. Einar Stokke. His father, a blacksmith at Lougheed, has informed the Journal of the background which produced this error. Pte. Stokke was posted as missing July 20 1944. On Aug 15 his parents received word from Ottawa that he had been killed in action. Six weeks later his brother, Cap. John Stokke, Royal Norwegian Air Force, cabled from France that Einar was safe. Shortly after this his parents learned from Ottawa and the Red Cross that he was a prisoner of war. Then in November they received a Memorial Medal, given to the next-of-kin of dead servicemen. On May 6 the parents anxiety was finally ended upon receipt of a cable from Einar stating he had been released from a German prison camp and was safe in England. Since then two letters have been received from him informing the parents that he is on leave with his wife and two small children in England. Even in custody, confusion followed Einar Stokke. He was erroneously reported in Camp 7B when he was actually in 8B. Consequently he received no mail or smokes.
  • Army Medals, Decorations, Mentions, awarded in respect of service during WWII: Canadian Volunteer Services Medal and Clasp. Mentioned in Dispatches. By the KING”S Order the name of Private E. Stokke, Canadian Infantry Corps, was published in the London Gazette on 21st. June, 1945. as mentioned in a Despatch for distinguished service, I am charged to record His Majesty’s high appreciation. Signed, P.J. Grigg, Secretary of State for War.
  • Letter to The Royal Canadian Legion from Einar Stokke, dated July 2, 1981. “I was captured on June 18th, 1944 on Hill 67 and was taken back of the lines through various methods (including a Box Car journey of six days), finally arriving at Stalag 12A, after a time there I was picked out to go on another box car journey for another six days to Stalage 8B and after a time there I was shipped out to a coal mine where I worked until January 23, 1945, this coal mine was just outside of Hindenberg. On January 23, 1945 we started out on what we called the Starvation March which lasted until April 24, 1945 when we were liberated by the Americans, at this time we were someplace in Czecholsovakia and the Americans flew us to Reihms in France where they prepared us for our journey to England (Note: At the time of his liberation Einar weighed only 95 pounds. Out of the hundreds of prisoners who began the Starvation March only a few were left on April 24th to be liberated. The guards suffered almost as much as the prisoners for lack of food and medication. Einar suffered the memories of this march and the deaths of his fellow prisoners for the rest of his life.). After approximately six days at this camp they flew us to Aldershot where I stayed until they put us on a ship back to Canada, I arrived in Calgary approximately June 27, 1945 caught a bus home to Lougheed on June 29 where I stayed for approximately a week and then back to Calgary to get my discharge. I have never claimed Prisoner of War Compensation. I was not on Farm Leave in May of 1945, therefore did not hurt my leg. You may wish to know that I received mention in dispatches posthumously and on the day of discharge the officer mentioned that he had never discharged a dead man before.”

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