onyskorecruitThe date was August 23, 1918, when when George Onysko was apprehended from his farm in southern Manitoba, so he could serve overseas.

Onysko was 29, and he left behind his wife, Sophia, who was seven months pregnant. They'd been married for just over a year, and Onysko had only become a naturalized citizen at the beginning of the war, in 1914.

He was originally from Chernowitzi, Ukraine, a part of Europe that has seen its share of fighting. In its 600 years of history, 'the black city,' had been part of Poland, Moldavia, Romania and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

After conscription, Onysko became a private with the 10th battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Winnipeg. After some basic training, he was sent to the East Coast, but never deployed overseas, before peace was declared in November of 1918.

He was demobilized in January of 1919, but by then his wife had died of the Spanish Flu. He returned to the farm a single-parent for his daughter, Doris.

"He died when I was a young boy, and I never got a chance to learn about his brief military experience," says his grandson Bob Onysko. "But each Nov. 11th, he would don the beret, white shirt, tie, grey flannels and blue blazer and march as a proud legion member in Remembrance Day parades."

Onysko would marry Magdalena Homeniuk in 1922, and they would have three more children, including Bob Onysko's father.

Some 619,636 Canadians enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the war, and approximately 424,000 served overseas. Of these men and women, 59,544 members of the CEF died during the war, another 172,000 Canadians were wounded.

For more information:

Canadian Great War Project - George Onysko

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