Former member of the Royal Regina Rifle Trophy honored with official gravestone marker


Swift Current, Saskatchewan –

Family members and military officials gathered in Swift Current on Friday to pay their final respects to a former member of the Royal Regina Rifle Trophy.

“The last time I saw him, he put me on the train from Swift Current back to Montreal,” said Mariette Leblanc, niece of shooter Dennis Denniel.

Rifleman Denniel served in World War II with the Regina Rifles, one of the many regiments that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day.

He was wounded in combat and later discharged. Denniel settled in Swift Current and died in 1968 at the age of 51.

He was buried in the Field of Honour at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Swift Current. His gravesite was marked with a white wooden cross and a metal plaque. However, his name was misspelled and remained that way for 56 years.

“I found 22 unmarked graves at the Veterans Grave and surrounding cemeteries. I then began my research to identify these people and was able to confirm that they were genuine veterans who were entitled to a permanent headstone,” said Brad Hrycyna, a volunteer researcher with the Last Post Fund's Unmarked Graves Program.

Denniel is the first burial site in the Field of Honor to receive a permanent headstone.

“It is great for the family to see a relative honored and remembered in this way,” Hrycyna added.

“It's all just wonderful. I don't have the words to describe it,” said Leblanc.

The ceremony also coincided with the 80th anniversary of D-Day, which falls on June 6.

“We asked the last postal fund if they would be willing to arrange for the stone to be placed just before D-Day so that we could have an event around D-Day that would link the event here and also with France overseas,” said Col. Randy Brooks, a retired veteran of the Royal Regina Rifles.

Proposals for the placement of a permanent headstone are pending for 12 additional headstones on the property.

Five of them are believed to be Allied veterans and have yet to be admitted as members of the troops. Four others still have no names.