Regimental Number: M103805
Samuel Robert Ames was born on January 27th, 1922 at his parent’s home in Bezanson. He had two older sisters, Janet and Berniece who had been born in Brookdale Manitoba northeast of Brandon and accompanied their parents to homestead at Bezanson. His dad, Wilfred Roy Ames and mother Isabella had come to Bezanson in the fall of 1919 to join his uncles Charlie, George and Fred Ames and aunt Vera Ford.
Robert’s younger brother Donald was born at the end of November, 1923 and tragically their mother passed away on Christmas eve that year. His Dad bundled the young family up and returned with them back to Manitoba where they lived with their maternal grandparents, Robert and Janet Gillespie. There they lived for six years before returning to Bezanson with their Dad and new stepmother Beatrice.
Robert grew up on the farm, a mile west and a mile north of the present Bezanson store site, and went to school until he had finished grade eight. At that point he quit school and concentrated on farming.
By 1942 when he was twenty years old, World War II had been going on for nearly three years. The US Army was sending a lot of vehicles driving by, just a mile from the farm, on their way to building the Alaska Highway. Robert signed up with the Canadian Forces on August 14th, 1942.
Basic training saw him in Chilliwack on October 15th. From February 15 until April 29, 1943 he was in Woodstock Ontario taking mechanical courses which he continued, from then until August, in Winnipeg. By August 5th he was back in Chilliwack. On November 6 he arrived in Debert, Nova Scotia and he sailed for the UK from Halifax on December 26th. He arrived in the UK on January 4th where he stayed until sailing for Naples on March 25th, 1944.
He joined the 13th Field Company of the Royal Canadian Engineers in the field as the Canadians were fighting to take Monte Cassino from the Germans, which they did. They went up the Liri Valley past Rome and crossed Italy to the Adriatic Coast and up to the Po River Valley pushing the Germans back as they went. Robert’s job was as a truck driver delivering fuel, munitions and food in the field. He had occasion to take POW’s from the battlefield area. The Field Company, as a whole, did a lot of bridge building and road construction. After reaching the Po River the Canadians went back south along the Adriatic coast and crossed Italy to Naples. He left Naples on February 24th and landed in Marseilles, France on February 27th, 1945.
It took eight days to cross France into Belgium. Most of the rest of the war was spent in Holland. He was in Holland as late as June 13th and probably a little longer. He sailed for home from somewhere in Britain and arrived late in October. On October 22nd he was posted to 133BTC in Wetaskiwin. On December 14th he joined internment camp staff in Lethbridge to guard POW’s. On January 29th 1946 his discharge certificate was stamped in Calgary. He would return home from his war odyssey in early February.
Shortly after returning home, Robert and his brother Donald started digging a well by hand. The hole was about four feet square. Over the hole was a barrel with rope wrapped around it which was attached to a pail which brought dirt from the hole. This hole was abandoned at 120 feet as silting was carrying in dirt faster than it could be removed. Of course, the well was never used.
Robert purchased land next to his Dad’s place after returning home and took up farming. In June of 1949 he married a local school teacher, Marie Bayens. In 1951 Betty was born and in 1954 came Jim in January and Allan in December. It was also in 1954 that Robert’s Dad retired to Port Coquitlam BC so he moved onto the home quarter where he resided the rest of his life. In 1958 David was born and John came along in 1964.
Robert farmed three and eventually four quarters of land and kept a busy shop for himself and neighbors. He had a welder, a forge, a cutting torch and innumerable tools and he loved to build and fix. Maybe some of this was as a result of his belonging to the army engineers. He was extremely patient and reserved in nature. His favorite place was “at home”.
Robert eventually sold three of his four quarters of land in 1979 and continued at a much smaller pace farming only the “home” quarter. This was reduced further in the spring of 2000 to a ten acre plot on this quarter.
Robert had circulatory problems later in life and had several operations to clean arteries and improve circulation. He also dealt with kidney stones and various other ailments. None of these slowed him down much. He was cleaning eavestroughs and cutting wood on October 10, 2000, the day he passed away from heart failure. He left his wife, five children and nine grandchildren behind. He may well have died within twenty feet of where he was born.
Written by Jim Ames