Sergeant Pavel (Paul) Dreveny of Margo, Sask., was one of three Second World War veterans who each recently had a Saskatchewan lake named after them in remembrance of their military service.
Paul Dreveny was one of those men. As a child born in Bojanovice, Czechoslovakia, he had made the eight- or nine-day journey overseas from Liverpool, U.K., to Halifax, N.S., Canada, with his parents Josef and Katherine, four brothers Vladimir, John, Joe and Frank, and sister Beatrice. The trek that had begun from Czechoslovakia culminated in a three-day train trip that ended in Margo, their new home.
The Dreveny family arrived on their farm at NW ¼ 3-34-10, six miles north of the village. The farm consisted of one log barn and a one-room shanty. According to the history book Margo Our Heritage, the first meal brought tears to their mother’s eyes, for it was wild duck eggs cooked over an open fire because the stove from Winnipeg had not yet arrived. Life was hard and from 1927, when they settled, it was only a few short years before the dirty thirties affected life on the Prairies. Toward the end of the 1930s, war loomed in Europe and the Wadena RCMP were tasked with fingerprinting “aliens” such as the Dreveny family from Czechoslovakia, even though they were naturalized Canadians. To their horror, their firearms, needed for hunting a good part of the family’s food supply, were confiscated.
Undeterred, Dreveny and his friend Joe Kubat were the first to volunteer for the Czech squadron of the Royal Air Force under the British command. Their training took them to the Bahamas, then into action in Europe. Sadly, air gunner Paul Dreveny and his crew of eight were killed when their bomber crashed in dense fog over England while returning from a raid on July 13, 1944.
Agnes McLelland, daughter of Paul Dreveny’s brother Vladimir, has some memories of her uncle Paul even though she was only about nine years old at the time of his death.
“You could always tell where Uncle Paul was because you could hear him yodelling.”
Her uncles Paul and Frank were the ones who taught the rest of the family to speak English, as they were the only two who went to school.
One thing Dreveny’s niece remembers very well is how news of her uncle’s death was delivered.
“Grandma had received a letter from Uncle Paul, telling them that his pal Joe Kubat had died. The letter was followed by a telegram informing the family that Paul had died. Sad, very sad.”
She also remembers her uncle Frank saying that the planes Paul was flying in were “rubbish.” He was talking about the Liberator, a B-24 bomber manufactured by the U.S. company Boeing, and many were sold to the RAF. The RAF soon found the Liberator unsuitable for combat over Europe as it had insufficient defensive armament and lacked self-sealing fuel tanks. Due to the aircraft’s heavy payload and long range, the British converted these aircraft for use in maritime patrols.
McLelland says it would be nice to be able to visit the lake, which is not really possible because there are no roads to it. The newly named Dreveny Lake is tucked up in the northeast corner of Saskatchewan near the upper northwest tip of Misaw Lake (coordinates 590 54’ 1” North Latitude, 1020 38’ 24” West Longitude).
“It seems such a wasted life, so I like the idea that there is something there to remember him by.”
Since its inception in 1947, the GeoMemorial program has named about 4000 geographic features across Saskatchewan.
By Andy Labdon