William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

THE LAST OF THE 1914-1918 WARRIORS

We hear the stories from out of the past
Now Billy Duke Procter has breathed his last
the Great War Troops are now nearly all gone
I can hear the “Long Way to Tipperary” song?

Pack all your troubles in your old kit bag
Singing Waltzing Matilda he drove a team of nags
Being good with horses, he worked behind the lines
away from the gas and the bullets and the mines

It was just this week that the Duke he got sick
marching off to heaven – aged a hundred and six
He joined the Army as a lad of just fifteen
saw the dead and wounded – terrible things he had seen

It was the war to end all wars – they said – Lest we forget
but sadly this was not to be, so said this ancient vet
He said that we should all honour the troops who kept us free
and Canada said goodbye today to an old soldier from B.C.

RIP DUKE

VETERAN OF ‘GREAT WAR’ WILL BE MISSED

Article from CBC News On-Line – December 15, 2005

William ‘Duke’ Procter
William ‘Duke’ Procter celebrates his 106th Birthday
One of Canada’s last veterans of the First World War, William ‘Duke’ Procter, has died. He was 106.

Procter, born in Mabel Lake, B.C. in 1899, died peacefully at the Oakside Manor residential care facility in Enderby, B.C. on Wednesday. Fred Evans, the director of the facility said “it was a pleasure having him here, and getting to know him. He gave so much to the staff here. We’re going to miss him terribly.”

In the years following what became known as The Great War, Procter never missed a Remembrance Day ceremony, from 1919 until this year, when he underwent surgery.

Procter had lived on his own until September, when a bad fall forced him into the senior’s home. “I’m looked after real good and at my age, I’m not fit to be all by myself,” he said at the time.

He underwent hip surgery, ironically, on Nov. 11.

Procter was remembered as a man who was full of life: he went skydiving when he turned 100 and was still driving his car until the age 102.

Procter volunteered to fight at the age of 15, but due to his skill with horses, he was never sent into the trenches and he never fired a shot in anger. “I was very lucky. I got sent to places there was no war,” he said in a recent interview.

Later he was put to work as a lumberjack overseas, cutting wood to use in the trenches. “I guess they needed workers as much as they did frontline men.”

Procter saw many of his comrades coming back from the front, dying or wounded. “All them that went into war and lost lives, or came back crippled or gassed – they’re the ones you got to give credit to.”

Each Remembrance Day, Procter paid his respects to the soldiers who fought in all of Canada’s wars and his fervent hope was that younger people in Canada would take a moment to do the same.

“I would ask them to think of all the boys that were young and lost their lives in the wars to protect them, to have a Canada like we have today.”