Capt Herbert Francis Pragnell (Ret'd)
We regret to advise of the death of Captain Herbert Francis Pragnell on 22 May 2014 at 92 years of age at the Almonte General Hospital.
Herb was born and raised in Portage la Prairie, MB. A member of the Royal Military College wartime Class of 1940-1942, he was commissioned and assigned to the Royal Canadian Engineers. When he completed his training at Camp Chilliwack, BC he was still under 21 years of age so he could not be immediately sent overseas. Herb was thus assigned to run the newly built rifle range in Chilliwack until he was old enough to be sent to the Canadian Engineer Reinforcement Unit in Aldershot, England in 1943. For the next year, he trained with other reinforcements waiting for the Normandy Invasion. As it turned out, Engineer officer casualties were lower than expected and Herb was offered a chance to see action in Italy with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. He finally arrived in Italy in January 1945 and took over a weakened rifle platoon of seven men. When the 1st Canadian Division was moved to Northwest Europe in February 1945, Herb became the battalion's Pioneer Platoon Commander where he was mostly occupied in clearing mines. He was forward on a route clearance task in a Bren gun carrier on 8 May 1945 when word came that the war had ended.
Herb completed his Civil Engineering degree at McGill University after the war and then spent most of his career with the Defence Research Board in Ottawa. Herb and his family moved to Almonte in 1959, put down strong roots, and worked tirelessly for his community in the Lion’s Club, Almonte Legion, town and county councils as well as many volunteer groups. As an amateur historian, Herb was a founding member of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum.
Family and friends may call at the C. R. Gamble Funeral Home & Chapel Inc. (127 Church St., Almonte) on Monday, 26 May 2014 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm and 7:00 to 9:00 pm. A Legion Service will be conducted on Monday at 6:45 pm with a Lion’s Club Ceremony to follow. Funeral Service to be held at the Almonte United Church on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 at 10:00 am. Reception to follow in the Church Hall. Private Family interment at Auld Kirk Cemetery.
Donations to the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum or the R. Tait McKenzie Scholarship Fund would be appreciated.