Robert ‘Pop” Grinsted took it upon himself to regularly correspond with locals serving in the armed forces. Photo courtesy of Mission Community Archives.

Robert ‘Pop” Grinsted took it upon himself to regularly correspond with locals serving in the armed forces. Photo courtesy of Mission Community Archives.

PHOTOS: Custodian from Mission’s first high school compiled album of fallen WW2 alumni

Affectionately dubbed Robert ‘Pop’ Grinsted, he regularly wrote to former students through war

Guest article from Val Billesberger, Mission Community Archives:

Their young faces full of promise look out to us from the past. Page after page of their portraits are thoughtfully placed in a beautiful, handcrafted leather-bound album embossed with the Mission High School logo and the title “IN MEMORIAM.”

This book of remembrance for World War II was lovingly assembled by the revered Robert Grinsted, “chief janitor” at the high school, to commemorate some of the 240 “boys and girls” who responded to the call of duty during wartime.

Affectionately nicknamed “Pop” by the students, he took it upon himself during the war to regularly correspond with many local youths serving in the armed forces, keeping them up-to-date with what their friends and school chums were up to as well as providing the latest news about Mission.

In 1944, the Fraser Valley Record (known today as the Mission City Record) began to publish a weekly column by “Pop” titled: “With the Boys And Girls in The Services.” Often expressing the utmost gratitude for the letters received and that his response was in the mail or forthcoming, Pop’s newsy column recounts the experiences of those in active combat along with the casualties and homecomings, infused with words of kindness, encouragement, humour and great respect.

In a column dated December 7, 1944, he wrote:

“Very sorry to hear that Lieut. Bill McIntyre has been wounded in Italy and pray it is not too serious… Cheer up Bill, we will keep you in our thoughts and pray for a speedy recovery; we shall all be happy to see you at home again ..Was speaking to a young veteran from Italy, Pte. Gleig of Stave Falls. He was wounded in Italy in early May when with the Princess Pats, and was very pleased to be home again…Pleased to meet fellows like this….Saw Sgt. Angus Krieger. He has now been fitted with his new hand and it’s really marvelous, he can do wonderful work with it, but I warned him not to learn how to use a shovel. Good for you Angus, perseverance has certainly paid in your case and we are proud to know you.”

When one considers the horrors of war, it must have been heartening to read the weekly column which often started off with “Hello, fellows and girls” and always ended with “So chins up” followed by wishes of good luck “where ever you are.”

The students at Mission High paid special tribute to “Pop” in the 1945-46 school annual which in part read:

From this town of ours, by means of our paper and through the untiring efforts of a man who was interested enough in his “kids,” we learned of events that were probably left out of our letters from home – possibly that we were to return to a more impressive main street, on which a few new stores had been added or that one of the local women’s societies had sent more badly-needed clothes to the Red Cross. As we all now know, these so called “small” items of interest, bound together, constituted one of our powerful weapons, a high morale. So may we who benefited by this outstanding contribution once again thank you “Pop” for a service well rendered.

Preserved in the Mission Community Archives as part of the Mission Secondary fonds, you may access the IN MEMORIAM album through the online digital repository which was launched on Sept. 25 of this year.

RELATED: Mission’s local Legion soldiers on through COVID-19 fundraising challenges

All photos courtesy of Mission Community Archives:

Mission

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Images courtesy of Mission Community Archives.

ds

sd

sd

ds

sd

sd

sd

sd

sd

sd

fdgf

sd

Just Posted

UBC Sports Hall of Famer Carrie (Watson) Watts (far right, front row) helped lead the UBC Thunderbirds to the 2004 national championship, their first since 1974. She served as assistant coach a few years after graduation. (Photo/UBC)
Agassiz-born basketball star inducted into UBC Sports Hall of Fame

Carrie (Watson) Watts helped lead the team to their first championship in decades

Dr. Bonnie Henry B.C.’s provincial health officer, updates the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
UPDATED: South Mission added to list of high-transmission COVID zones

Anyone 30 and over in the area can now register for a vaccine

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

Architectural drawings of the apartment on Barker Court presented at Mission council.
Once-rejected development moves forward, after council demands better affordability terms

1st application rejected in March because low rates only offered for 5 years

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Surrey RCMP is investigating after a serious three-vehicle crash at the intersection of King George Boulevard and 128th Street Thursday afternoon (May 6, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Serious crash in Surrey sends 1 to hospital

Surrey RCMP say one of the drivers fled on foot, but was later found at an area hospital

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read