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Canadian war hero honoured on Penny's return to Shrewsbury

By Toby Neal | Shrewsbury | News | Published: | Last Updated:

A woman who emigrated nearly 55 years ago has paid her respects at the Shrewsbury grave of a Canadian Great War hero on behalf of the city in Canada where he enlisted, and she now lives.

Shrewsbury-born Penny Mansell was back in her old haunts to visit family, and made time to go to the town's cemetery to place a poppy wreath on the grave of Corporal Alfred Gyde Heaven.

Corporal Heaven, who had won the Military Medal for his bravery on The Somme, served in the 102nd Canadian Infantry.

On April 9, 1917, he was seriously wounded at Vimy Ridge. He was sent back to England, arriving at Berrington War Hospital, Shrewsbury, on April 19, but died two days later and was buried at Shrewsbury general cemetery. He had just turned 18.

Corporal Heaven had enlisted at Grand Forks in Canada, where Penny settled. She is retired, but does voluntary work, including at the city archives. In doing so she came across the story of Bob Davies and Philip Morris from her old town of Shrewsbury, who regularly place flowers and tend Corporal Heaven's grave.

Corporal Heaven had just turned 18 when he died

She got in touch with the pair to arrange to meet during her return to Shropshire to visit her brother this month, and to place the wreath on the grave on behalf of Grand Forks, a tiny city in British Columbia with a population of under 5,000.

Penny also placed a poppy cross on the graves of two other Canadian soldiers of the Great War in the cemetery.

In 2010 Alfred’s grave was found in a bad state of repair, and a project was started to restore it led by Philip Morris, Clive Blakeway, Bob Davies, Ken Bishop, and Mike Hatfield, which was completed in 2012.

Bob and Philip regularly visit to clean, tend, and place fresh flowers on the grave.

Penny went to Shrewsbury High School. Her father Peter Mansell commanded the 4th Battalion of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry in the 1950s. She emigrated to Canada in 1965, first to Vancouver, before ending up in Grand Forks. She worked as an insurance broker for most of her working life, retiring in 2006.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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