A/WC Tom Spear (Ret'd)

    • A/WC Tom Spear (Ret'd)
    • RCAF Badge
    • A/WC Tom Spear (Ret'd)

    We regret to advise of the death of Acting Wing Commander Tom Spear (Ret'd) in Calgary AB on 28 September 2000, just 24 days short of his 104th birthday.  Having lived in three different centuries, he was likely the oldest of our Canadian Military Engineer veterans.

    After completing high school in Manitoba in 1912 Tom went to work for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).  In February 1916, he left the CPR to enlist in the Signals Company of the Royal Canadian Engineers in Winnipeg MB.  He sailed to England in May of that year and deployed to the Continent in April 1917 where he saw action in France, Belgium and Germany.  Repatriated in 1919, he settled in Emerson MB where he returned to the employment of the CPR and became active in the local community including the command of the local Cadet Corps.

    During WW II, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and held several appointments in Ontario and Manitoba, including supporting the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Souris MB.  Starting at the rank of Flying Officer in the Repair Depot in Trenton ON, he rose to the rank of Acting Wing Commander in charge of the Repair Depot at the Royal Canadian Air Force Station Uplands in Ottawa ON. 

     After participating in his second world war, Tom returned to the CPR holding different positions of increasing responsibility and ending his career as the National Supervisor for System Rules.  On his retirement from the CPR in March 1963, after 50 years, he had the distinction of not having had a single day's absence.

    After retirement, Tom maintained an active involvement in the Calgary recreational and cultural community holding life memberships in many of these service associations.  He was also active in supporting veterans' memorial events.  In 1997 and 1998 he visited several European battlefields in tribute to his 23-year old brother who was killed at the Canal du Nord in France in September 1918.  On the 1997 pilgrimage, he was selected to read "The Soldier's Lament" at Vimy Ridge.  On the 1998 pilgrimage, he was selected to read "The Soldier's Lament" at the Peace Tower in Ottawa prior to the group departure to Europe.  During this overseas trip with the Canadian contingent of WW I veterans, he received the “Légion d’Honneur”, France's highest distinction for his WW I contributions.

    Tom has been presented twice to the Governor General in Rideau Hall in Ottawa.  He was presented with the Medal of Liberation from Queen Juliana of The Netherlands, was presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and as well as King Albert of Belgium at Mons in 1998.

     In 1999, Tom wrote and had published a book entitled ‘Carry On: Reaching Beyond 100’ which is his unique biography that covers how he survived machine gun attacks, 'whizz-bang' artillery barrages and how he returned to visit Europe eight decades later.

    A funeral service will be held on 2 October 2000 at the Scarboro United Church in Calgary. {gdMar2016kh}