Regimental Number: M562688 & R142646
Rank: Leading Aircraftsman
Bill, born on January 31, 1918 at Bezanson, was the 3rd youngest in Lester and Stella Nellis’ family of seven children. He had two sisters, Myrtle and Mayme and four brothers; Ted, Orval, Lloyd, and Harry. In 1916, Lester arrived in Grande Prairie from West Duluth, Minnesota and filed a homestead application on land in an area of Bezanson known as Lindsay. His family joined him on the homestead in the spring of 1917. The Nellis’ farmed until 1926 at which time they moved to Grande Prairie but eventually returned to Bezanson in 1933. Bill attended the Lindsay School and Montrose School in Grande Prairie where he completed Grade 8. He enjoyed baseball and skating. Bill farmed with his father from 1933-1941 at which time he attended a technical school where he completed a four-month Aero Engine Mechanic course in 1941.
In November 1941, Bill enrolled in a 30-day training course with the Non-Permanent Active Militia at Grande Prairie following which on November 29, 1941; he enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force as an Aero Engine Mechanic Trainee. He was transferred to various training centers; Edmonton, St. Thomas (Ontario), Claresholm, Greenwood (Nova Scotia) and Halifax. Bill embarked for the United Kingdom on December 10, 1942 and arrived on December 18th. While in Bristol, England, Bill completed a course on Hercules Engines and was subsequently attached to the 408 Goose Squadron. Leading Aircraftsman Bill Nellis served in Canada and the United Kingdom and received the Defence Medal, General Service Medal and the Canadian Volunteer Medal & Clasp. He was discharged on September 10, 1945.
In 1945, Bill married Betty Morrison, a nurse from Beaverlodge and the young couple purchased land in the Glen Leslie District that was the original homestead of Floyd Trotten. Besides farming, Bill also worked as a carpenter. They had three children; Stella, Frank and Enid. In 1977, Bill and Betty retired and moved to Clairmont where they enjoyed activities at the Seniors’ Centre. Bill passed away in 2001. Betty passed away in 2019.
Contributed by Wanda Zenner
Smoky River to Grande Prairie
Betty Nellis obit
South Peace Regional Archives