The Rocky Mountain Rangers are fundraising for a bench at the Hill 70 memorial in France to honour Kamloops veteran Frederick Lee, a Chinese-Canadian who died while fighting in the First World War.
Lee fought in the battles of Vimy Ridge and Hill 70. He died at age 21 on the sixth day of the 10-day Hill 70 battle that raged between Aug. 15 and Aug. 25, 1917.
Lee’s body was never recovered. It is believed the young Kamloops farmer enlisted with the 172nd Battalion on a voluntary basis, prior to conscription.
“That is significant,” Rocky Mountain Rangers Association president Michael Young said. “Because, as he was of Chinese heritage, he was not considered a Canadian citizen, but we suspect through his history that we know of that he would have volunteered out of duty to himself and to prove himself a Canadian.”
The Rangers have so far raised $9,000 of $25,000 needed to fund a bench along a pathway honouring Lee as part of The Battle of Hill 70 Memorial Park, which opened in August 2017 in France.
Various walkways are being named in honour of fallen soldiers.
“The highest of these walkways is going to be officially named Frederick Lee Walkway,” Young said.
Additionally, a section of a plaza will honour the 172nd Battalion, considered a lost battalion after it was broken up, with soldiers joining other battalions.
One bench is being paid for by the Canadian Chinese Military Museum and the Rocky Mountain Rangers began fundraising about a month ago for the second bench.
The Rangers were at city hall on Tuesday, requesting a letter of support from council, which was unanimously supported.
“It is a legacy that’s going to belong to Kamloops,” Young said. “You’re going to have 30,000 people a year or more that are going to walk through that memorial and they are going to see Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, associated with Frederick Lee, who was killed there. He was from here. He was our brother in arms.”
Young said visitors to the memorial will be given an audio presentation narrated by Canadian actor Dan Aykroyd.
“They’ll learn about Frederick Lee, they’ll learn about the Rocky Mountain Rangers, the Rocky Mountain Ranger Plaza, all narrated by Dan Aykroyd,” Young said.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the cause can call Gerry Jones, vice-president of The Rocky Mountain Rangers Association, at 250-851-1775 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donation in excess of $25 is eligible for a tax receipt. For more information on the Hill 70 memorial, go online here.