Donald William Craig

Submitted by Terry Van Seters

In the summer of 1940, Donald W. Craig, at the age of 19, and his father, both joined the Canadian Reserve Army.  In January, the following year, Don enlisted in the regular forces, and was posted to the 60th Heavy Battery of the 5th British Columbia Coast Brigade, Royal Canadian Army.  In his own words, in late July, 1942, VWB Craig “jumped at the chance” in response to an urgent request for volunteers for parachute training.  After a short processing period in Calgary, he was sent to Fort William Henry Harrison in Helena, Montana, where he was posted to the 4th Company, 1st Regiment of the First Special Service Force.  The First Special Service Force, known in some literature as the “Black Devils” and more commonly as the “Devil’s Brigade”, was a combined US/Canada force comprised of 900 men from each country.

VWB Craig took in all the training that came his way, and participated in military action in the Aleutian Islands, Italy, and France, serving as a rifleman, mortarman, Johnson gunner, machine gunner and bazooka man.  Don was one of the few men who went through the war in the F.S.S.F. from start to finish, without getting hit or put out of action for any length of time…although a bout of jaundice had him laid up in the Anzio Beachhead hospital for a few days.  The exploits of the Devil’s Brigade were immortalized, with some poetic licence, in the 1968 Hollywood production by the same name.

After the breakup of the F.S.S.F. in 1944, in southern France, Don was posted briefly in Avelino, Italy, and then England, where he was an instructor for the infantry.  At the war’s end, he had been posted as a staff member at the repatriation depot in Aldershott, where he was discharged at the rank of Sergeant, in January, 1946.  On February 3rd, 2015, the members of the First Special Service Force, as an entire unit, were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the U.S Congress.A close-up of a grave stone

Description automatically generatedDon Craig was a long-time member of the Chemainus Legion, a Past Master of Chemainus Masonic Lodge, and Past Grand Steward of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon.  May he Rest in Peace.

Obituary

CRAIG, Donald William October 24, 1921 – July 18, 2007

 It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Donald William Craig. Don peacefully passed away with his family by his side at the Chemainus Health Care Centre. He will be greatly missed and lovingly remembered by his wife Dorothy of 52 years; sons Steve, Mike (Kelly), Rob (Krista), Dan (Leslie), daughter Cathy (Gerry Deeble); grandchildren Clayton (Kristin), Travis, Jackie, Kris, Khara, Liam, and Natalie; sister Glad Craig; as well as many friends and relatives. A loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend. Many thanks to the staff at the Chemainus Health Care Centre for their love and kindness. A memorial service will be held at Chemainus United Church, 9814 Willow Street, Chemainus, BC on Tuesday, July 24, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. Reception to follow at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #191 Chemainus, 9775 Chemainus Road, Chemainus, BC. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to donate in Don’s memory may do so to the BC Heart and Stroke Foundation, PO Box 73, Duncan, BC V9L 3X1 or the Chemainus Health Care Centre, 9909 Esplanade Street, Chemainus, BC V0R 1K1 Online condolences may be offered at www.sandsfuneral.com 392001