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From the #CPSArchives: Remembrance Day

"My eyes locked with his. I couldn’t see anything else in the photo – just his eyes."

When I asked our Archive Specialist to look through our Remembrance Day collection, she quickly sent me a number of digitally scanned photos related to CPS and Remembrance Day – beautiful monuments and a list of names. Before reading the names, I counted how many were in the list. Six. Six CPS members had made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, over two World Wars.

Before I read the list, I paused. Waited for the “right moment” and then read each name out loud. I found myself using a ceremonial voice – I hoped no one could hear. A mixture of (what I can tell) Scottish and Irish names rolled off my tongue and seemed to fill the room. Hearing their names gave life to the letters and meaning to the dates that followed. But, of course, I wanted to know more.

I asked our Specialist if she found anything about the individual men. She quickly followed up with a second email and an attachment. I opened the attachment.

My eyes locked with his. I couldn’t see anything else in the photo – just his eyes. Was he scared? Proud? Likely both. My eyes pricked with tears as I found myself imagining my brother, at 22, telling me that he had made the choice to fight for our country. The pit in my stomach would be only minimal compared to the gut-wrench reality felt by the Nicholson family when notified that their loved one is missing.

Here, is Alexander Pope Nicholson’s story.

Alexander Pope Nicholson, known as “Pope” to his friends and family, was a native of PEI born in 1894.  When he reached his majority he made the decision to move west and eventually settled in Calgary, where he joined the ranks of the Calgary Police Force. After two and half years of dedicated service to the Force he resigned to serve his country in First World War. He travelled to Europe to fight in the Great War as part of the 31st Battalion of the Canadian Infantry, CEF in the spring of 1916.  By November of the same year Sgt. Nicholson was reported officially missing in action after heavy fighting in the region near Courcelette, France.  At a later unknown date soldiers were able to return to the trench where Sgt. Nicholson and many of his other compatriots had sadly lost their lives, victims of trench warfare. His body was exhumed there and reburied in Regina Trench Cemetery near Grandcourt, France. He was 22 years old at the time of his death.  

Story by Jocelyn MacGregor
jrmacgregor@calgarypolice.ca

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