Bruno’s Last Days (in German)

Brunos Letzte Tage – Chart II a – II & IV

von Dieter Barge

Ich war sehr froh, in den Unterlagen der 218. ID einen 4-seitigen Bericht zu dem Vorauskommando zu finden, dem Bruno mit seinem Radfahrerzug angehörte. Zunächst der Berichtskopf mit einigen allgemeinen Angaben zum Vorauskommando, dann 2 Fotos zu Radfahrern in der Wehrmacht.

Das Vorauskommando hatte eine beachtliche Stärke: 10 LKW, 3*Flak, 3*PAK, 7 Motorräder, Küchen-, Munitions-, Funk-, Tank- und Krankenwagen, 3 Radfahrgruppen, 2 Radfahrerzüge. Im nächsten Bild wird begründet, dass die Gruppe wegen des schlechten Wetters nicht mit den schweren LKW an den Rhein heranfahren konnte und eine weitere Nacht vom 15.Juni zum 16.Juni in Tutschfelden übernachten mußte.

Bild 4 Bericht 2

Der Abmarsch erfolgte am 16.Juni erst gegen 18 Uhr, deshalb konnte Bruno auch einen Brief an die Familie daheim schreiben und das folgende Bild beilegen, das auch noch entwickelt werden musste. Das Bild zeigt Bruno bei der “Bekanntgabe der Lage und der Aufgaben des Vorauskommandos” an seinen Radfahrerzug und ist mit 16.6.1940 datiert.

Bruno letztes Bild

Bruno letztes Bild

Das nächste Bild enthält die Erläuterung des Fahrweges von Tutschfelden bis Sigolsheim. Ich habe den Verlauf in 2 Google-Maps-Bildern eingetragen.

Der folgende Bericht schildert die Kämpfe in Sigolsheim und in Kientzheim, zu diesem Zeitpunkt war das Vorauskommando tatsächlich vor dem 386 IR, das sie vor Gemar einholten.

Bild 9 Bericht 4

Bemerkenswert, dass die Einheit direkt vom Divisions- und vom Regimentskommandeur geführt wurde! Die Kämpfe in Kientzheim dauerten ca. 9 Stunden !

Gegen Mittag fiel Bruno, wie im Beitrag von Anke und Jürgen bereits von einer Augenzeugin beschrieben wurde. Der Bericht des Vorauskommandos ist damit stimmig mit der Augenzeugin und der folgenden Nachricht des Vorgesetzten Brunos an Johanna. Etwas verwunderlich für mich ist, dass von diesen schweren Kämpfen in Kientzheim nichts beschrieben wurde.


Die nächsten beiden Bilder zeigen das 1.Grabkreuz und das nach der offiziellen Trauerfeier errichtete 2. Grabkreuz.

Am 25.10.1940 besuchte die beiden Brüder Gerhard (später General) und Günther (Oberst) die Grabstelle.

Bild 13 Günther und Gerhard am Grab ihres Bruders am 25.10.1940

Die Söhne Jürgen und Hartmut konnten nach der Wiedervereinigung gemeinsam das Grab besuchen.

Bild 14 Jürgen und Hartmut am Grab ihres Vaters Bruno

Ich habe zur Erinnerung an Bruno 2 Bilder bearbeitet, das eine zeigt den jungen Bruno am Grab seines Vaters.


Falsely Accused and Smoking a Pipe

Conclusion of Chapter VII

One day as I was happily returning home from the Upper Village, a girl about my age crossed my path and placed herself in front of me.

“I want to show you something”, she said. To my surprise she quickly pulled down her panty and lifted up her skirt. Without waiting for my reaction, she demanded, “Now you pull down your pants!” Puzzled by this naughty request, I stared at her for a moment and then ran home as quickly as my legs could carry me.

Around supper time there was a knock at the door. When Mother opened it, I heard from inside the living room a soft, but ominous voice in a very accusing tone. Soon a woman, accompanied by the girl with whom I had just had this embarrassing encounter, entered and immediately continued to speak more menacingly than before.

“My sweet little girl was on her way home, when your naughty confronted her with the most indecent request. He asked her to expose herself. You can imagine, Mrs. Klopp, how shocked and disgusted she was with this display of improper behavior. When she turned around to run home, that brat grabbed her from behind and pulled her panty down.”

While the woman continued with the story about her ‘sweet little girl’ being harassed in broad daylight, I felt so stunned by the accusations that I was unable to utter a single word in my defense. We all know the old adage: silence is admission of guilt. And nobody got to hear my side of the story, not even my own mother. The shame I felt over something I did not do was so overpowering as if I had indeed done what I had been accused of. So I remained silent.

“Look, Mrs. Klopp, how guilty he looks! It was good I came by to tell you. Hopefully this will be teaching him a lesson.” And with that remark she took her ‘sweet, little girl’ by the hand and added, “We must go home now and fry our fish for supper. Good night!”

Father loved to smoke his pipe. I often watched him, as he was preparing to light it, a process that seemed to be like a relaxing ritual for him. With fascination I was watching him gather his pipe, tobacco bag and the matchbox. He opened the bag and held it under his nose to savor the aromatic delight in his nostrils. Then he grabbed a pinch of the brown fluffy stuff and loosely filled the pipe’s chamber. After he had carefully closed the tobacco bag, he struck a match to light the pipe. This was the moment I had been waiting for. With a few puffs the aromatic scent of smoked tobacco filled the entire room, and I vicariously participated in my father’s delight. Even though I never turned into a smoker in my later life, I do have fond memories of the cozy atmosphere surrounding Father and his pipe.

Kid Smoking Pipe - Photo Credit:

Kid Smoking Pipe – Photo Credit:

One day, when I came home from playing outside, I noticed to my great surprise Father’s pipe on the kitchen table. I was surprised indeed, because Father would always put it away in a secure place. Then there were also matches on the table, but what amazed me the most was that the pipe’s bowl was stuffed with bits of crumpled-up paper, leaves and old cigarette butts. The attraction to smoke Father’s pipe was irresistible like sweet honey to a bear. Within seconds I held Father’s pipe between my lips, lit a match and brought its flame near the bowl filled with that poisonous concoction of paper, leaves and cigarette butts. I sat on the chair like Father inhaling the disgustingly acrid smoke. A few puffs later, I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. Pale and green in my face I slid off the chair, on which I had just sat proud and strong like Father. Holding the glorious pipe in my hand, I landed on the floor with a thump, threw up and passed out all within less than a few minutes. It was then when my older brothers came rushing out from their hiding places, whence they had been watching the spectacle. They had set me up for their macabre entertainment. I was sick for a long time, so sick actually that this horrid experiment with tobacco served as a form of effective inoculation against nicotine addiction for my entire life. And for that I will be forever thankful to my brothers!

Rescue from Certain Death and Peter’s Perilous Bike Ride

Chapter VII – Part III


Photo Credit:


The farmers in Rohrdorf were relatively poor. But they were much ahead of their time by practicing what we now call organic farming methods. Their farmhouse was located in the village and their small fields often less than one ha in size were scattered in the outlying areas. With each plowing, rocks emerged from below the surface and needed to be picked up. Owning horses for pulling farm equipment was a luxury in this impoverished region between the River Danube and Lake Constance. Most farmers used cows for pulling their wagons and plows. Yet, they also expected them to give plenty of milk in the morning. Cow-barn and residence were located under the same roof. A giant manure pile decorated the front of the house right next to the stairway leading up to the main entrance. Conveniently the kitchen was right above the manure pile, so the farmer’s wife merely had to throw kitchen scraps and other organic refuse out of the window. Above the cow-barn the farmer stored hay for fodder and straw for the cows to rest on during the night. The architecture of the entire building was designed to save manual labor. During the winter months the farmer would simply take his pitchfork and throw down the hay into the long trough. From the rear end of the animals the cow pads mixed with straw would go directly onto the manure pile, while the urine would flow freely down the gutter into the holding tank outside the building. Nothing, absolutely nothing was wasted here. Well-rotted manure and aged slurry went back to the fields to revitalize the soil.


Photo Credit:

At one of these farmhouses I was playing all by myself one day. I cannot remember what attracted me. To be sure, it was not the pungent smell or the questionable beauty of the manure pile. Spurred on by my childlike curiosity, I was simply exploring a place that was new to me. Boundaries have no meaning to little children. Trespassing is a foreign concept to them. As I was walking around, I stepped on the lid that did not completely close the opening of the holding tank. All of a sudden the lid tipped under the weight of my body. I lost my balance and slipped into the deep, smelly slurry underneath. Panic-driven I frantically thrashed around to keep at least my head above the smelly liquid. In vain I looked for a foothold or at least something to cling to with my hands. But there was nothing but the slippery, slimy wall surface. Soon I began to tire. I found it harder and harder to stay afloat.

The little light that had penetrated the darkness before suddenly grew dimmer. I could no longer see the walls. It seemed I was losing consciousness. Did the toxic fumes make me mercifully lose consciousness, before I would drown? Just as I was beginning to submerge in the infernal soup, I felt a strong grip at one arm, then on the other. I was no longer sinking, but going up instead. Centimeter by centimeter my body was dragged by an invisible force higher and higher towards fresh air, sunshine and life. With a thump I landed on firm ground and after I recovered a little, I looked at my rescuer’s smiling face. One of the older Pröbstel boys had heard the clang of the lid and saw me fall into the holding tank. It would have been my certain death, had he not acted immediately. The miracle of my rescue appears even greater to me now, when I consider that by chance the holding tank was filled almost to the top. For otherwise the boy would not been able to reach me.

I learned to ride a bicycle under somewhat unpleasant circumstances. One day my brother Karl lifted me up onto the saddle of his rather tall bicycle. I was all excited. Indeed I was very eager to experience the freedom of moving about on two wheels. My legs were barely long enough for my feet to reach the pedals. While Karl was holding the luggage rack to keep the bike in an upright position, I began to pedal and managed to gradually build up speed. Every once in a while my brother let go of the rack just for a few seconds to give me the feeling of the relationship between speed and balance. Under his caring guidance I was able to ride the bike independently for longer and longer stretches, until I had developed enough confidence to break from Karl’s helping hands. I pedaled so fast that I soon left him far behind. I was on my own now experiencing the exhilaration of traveling on two wheels. I was on that straight level stretch between the ‘Poorhouse’ and the public fountain at the junction.

Fountain at Lower Village - Photo Credit: Stefan Klopp

Fountain at Lower Village – Photo Credit: Stefan Klopp

However, there was one problem. I had not yet learned to make a u-turn and what was worse I did not know how to stop the bike without falling and hurting myself. This meant that I was unable to turn around and get back to Karl who could assist me getting off the bike. The exhilarating sensation suddenly gave way first to mild anxiety, then to full-blown panic, as I realized that the only way to prevent a painful crash on the paved highway was to keep on pedaling. So I did, until after a few more minutes exhaustion set in and I could no longer move the bicycle fast enough to keep my balance. Fortunately, as the bike was just ready to fall on its side, I steered it into the ditch and thus avoided at least a major injury. If this had been a lady’s bike without that scary crossbar, I would have been all right. Roughed up a little in body and spirit I walked Karl’s bike back home crying all the way to express my hurt and misery.


Photo Credit:

There are two kinds of gifts, the one you buy and the one you make yourself. Although the former may be much appreciated at times for its usefulness or inherent thoughtfulness, it is the latter that is of greater value, because the giver has devoted so much time, planning, workmanship, and love to the gift. In a sense he has given part of himself to the recipient. So I feel today when I contemplate about the first Christmas gift that I can remember from the early days in the ‘Poorhouse’. Apart from the customary plate of nuts, sweets and cookies – truly highly esteemed luxury items during the rest of the year – I found under the tree a colossal wooden locomotive about half a meter long and big enough for me to sit on. It was equipped with a set of six or eight wooden wheels, which revolved smoothly around its skillfully crafted axles. It was a joy to look at and an even greater joy to play with. A lot of thought had gone into designing and building it. If I consider how few tools had been available and how primitive they were, it was truly a masterpiece. I do not know who was involved in the plan of creating this wonderful homemade toy. But it seems to me that the entire family had made a contribution to a project, which I cherished as the only true gift worth remembering all the way up to my teenage years.

Operation ‘Kleiner Bär” 1940 (in German)

Die Lebenslinien von Bruno Kegler und Rolf Barge treffen sich 1940 im Schwarzwald – Part II

 Von Dieter Barge (Chart II a – II & IV)

Die Division wurde am 31.5.1940 bei gutem Wetter in Marsch gesetzt, die Fahrt ging von Burg über Magdeburg, Halle , Naumburg nach Erfurt, das gegen Abend erreicht wurde.
Von Erfurt ging es über die Rhön nach Frankfurt-Süd, von dort über die Bergstraße nach Heidelberg, das Neckartal hinauf bis Stuttgart. In Stuttgart (1.6.1940 abends) erfolgte die Ausladung und der Abmarsch über Freudenstadt nach Zell. Die endgültige Unterbringung der Einheit von Bruno erfolgte in Schuttertal.

Endgültige Unterbringung

Endgültige Unterbringung

Nach Tutschfelden kam die 3.Kompanie des IR 386 und die 2.Batterie des AR 216, nach Bleichheim die 3.Kompanie des IR 386, nach Schweighausen der Reg.stab des IR 386 mit Nachrichten-, Reiter- und Pionierzug. Der Regimentskommandeur des IR 386 war Oberst Manitius.

Laut Forum der Wehrmacht (FdW) hatte damals ein Infanterie-Regiment hatte ca. 3000 Mann, ein Bataillon ca. 860 Mann, eine Infanterie-Division über 10.000 Mann.
Die Unterbringung erfolgte bei den Einwohnern der Orte, in Schulen, anderen öffentlichen Gebäuden, oder es wurde biwakiert.
Eine Übersicht über den Oberrhein gibt das folgende Bild:

Übersicht Oberrhein

Übersicht Oberrhein

Der Angriff

Hier der Bucheinband zu dem bereits genannten Buches von Josef Göhri:

Breisgauer KTB Göhri

Breisgauer KTB Göhri

Josef Göhri schreibt, dass die deutschen Angriffstruppen in Bleichheim in wenigen Tagen enge Freundschaft mit der Bevölkerung geschlossen hatten, aber die vollbehangenen Kirschbäume bald wie leergefegt waren. Die Dorfbewohner schauten mit einem lachenden und einem weinenden Auge zu, “wir Buben hatten das Nachsehen”.
Am 10.Juni wurde die Division in den Angriffsraum vorgezogen, die Führungsstaffel der Division rückte nach Wagenstadt, einem Stadtteil von Herbolzheim, vor, der Rest des Stabes wurde nach Ettenheim verlegt.

Befehl Angriffsraum 10.6.1940

Befehl Angriffsraum 10.6.1940

Aus den beiden folgenden Dokumenten geht hervor, dass die schwere Artillerieabteilung 806 meines Vaters der 218.ID zugeordnet wurde, sie von der 218. ID verpflegt wurden und die Munition für den Angriff in Weisweil erhielt. Die 806 rückte am 14.Juni aus Oberachern nach Kappel vor.

Die beiden folgenden Bilder zeigen eine motorisierte Artillerie-Einheit bei Bleichheim, es handelt sich dabei um eine Batterie 15cm s F.H.18 (schwere Feldhaubitzen), diese Einheit kam wie Rolf auch aus dem Artillerie-Regiment 65 in Mühlhausen.

Die 218. ID gehörte ebenso wie die 221. ID und 239.ID zum XXVII. AK (Armeekorps)von General Alfred Wäger,
nördlich davon stand das XXV.AK von General Ritter von Prager mit der 555.ID und der 557.ID, südlich davon XXXIII. AK von General Brandt mit der 554.ID und der 556.ID.

Den deutschen Truppen in diesem Gebiet standen die V. und VIII. Armee Frankreichs gegenüber.

Im Vorgriff wurde die Bevölkerung in den Gemeinden zwischen Rhein und den geschützten Lagen im Schwarzwald evakuiert.

Im Rücken der französischen Armeen an der Maginotlinie war bereits die Panzergruppe Guderian unterwegs, um diese einzukesseln, am 9. Juni 1940 hatte die zweite Phase des Westfeldzuges mit der Durchbruchsschlacht durch die französische Aisne-Front begonnen. Am 12. und 13. Juni schloss sich der Kampf um Châlons s.M. und den Rhein-Marne-Kanal sowie bis zum 17. Juni die Verfolgungskämpfe über den Rhein-Marne-Kanal bis zur Schweizer Grenze bei Pontarlier an.

Am 15.6.1940 begann der deutsche Angriff auf die französische Maginotlinie um 10 Uhr mit schwerem Artilleriefeuer aus 300 Kanonen insbesondere gegen die feindlichen Bunker, um den Rheinübergang der deutschen Truppen vorzubereiten. Daran waren auch die Geschütze des Westwalls und das Eisenbahngeschütz “Kurzer Bruno” beteiligt.
Den Tätigkeit eines vorgeschobenen Beobachters (VB), die mein Vater bei der 806 hatte, wird durch das folgende Bild vom Bundesarchiv veranschaulicht.

Russland, Artillerie-Beobachtung

Russland, Artillerie-Beobachtung

Nach dem Artilleriefeuer begann der Sturm der Einheiten über den Rhein, der geplante Einsatz von Stukas konnte wegen des schlechten Wetters nicht erfolgen. Der Rhein führte Hochwasser, Flußbreite ca. 210m, Wassertiefe 5-6 m, Strömung 3-4 m/sec, ca. 40 sec dauerte die Fahrt mit einem Sturmboot.
Ich habe die Übersetzstreifen der 218.ID einmal in der Übersicht dargestellt, vom IR 386 waren 2 Bataillone eingesetzt, Bruno war also nicht dabei. Eine Vorstellung über den Rheinübergang vermitteln die folgenden 3 Bilder von Josef Göhri, ein Bild des Bildarchivs zeigt ein Sturmboot im Einsatz.

Das IR 386 startete aus dem Raum westlich von Wyhl und sollte sich in Richtung Mackenheim vorkämpfen. Es wurden 500 Mann mit 60 MG in 6 Etappen übergesetzt. Die Fahrt über den Rhein war sehr verlustreich, vom Regiment wurden 33 Mann vermisst. Im Verlaufe des Tages wird ein kleiner Brückenkopf bis zu 500 m Tiefe gebildet.
Wenige Tage später erfuhren die Bewohner von Bleichheim von einem zurückgekehrten Unteroffizier, dass viele Soldaten in ihren Booten ums Leben kamen, “der Rhein war vom Blut rotgefärbt”!
Am 15.Juni begann durch das Pionierbataillon 685 (der 239. ID unterstellt) der Aufbau einer Pontonbrücke über den Rhein bei Sasbach, nahe den Überresten der Limburg.
Am 16.Juni hat das IR 386 Marckolsheim erreicht, es gab Unterstützung durch Stukas.

Göhri Stuka

Göhri Stuka

Zerstörte Bunker aus dem Buch von J.Göhri:

Am Abend überquerten die Truppen den Rhine-Rhone-Kanal und eliminieren weitere französische Bunker.
Am 17. Juni wird Marckolsheim eingenommen, am 17.Juni 8 Uhr ist die Pontonbrücke fertig und schwere Waffen können übergesetzt werden. Am Abend des 17.Juni wird Colmar besetzt.

Bruno war in eine große Vorausabteilung, gebildet aus den IR 386 und 397, eingeteilt, diese Abteilung sollte eigentlich am 15.Juni übersetzen und die Spitze der ID 218 bilden, das hat nicht wie geplant geklappt. Ich berichte im 3. und letzten Teil meines Beitrages detailliert über einen Bericht, den ich in den Unterlagen der 218. ID darüber gefunden habe.

Die Einheit meines Vaters wurde, wie aus Unterlagen des XXV. Armeekorps hervorgeht, in der Nacht vom 16. zum 17.Juni der 557. ID zugeführt und unterstellt, am 18.Juni überquerte sie in der Dringlichkeitsstufe an 10.Stelle die Pontonbrücke Sasbach.
Diese 557. ID/ XXV. AK agierte im Raum Rhinau im Bereich der V. französischen Armee.
Von der Rheinüberquerung 4 Bilder meines Vaters:

Von der Operation “Kleiner Bär” gibt es einiges im Axis-History-Forum und bei Feldgrau zu lesen.

Es geht bald weiter.

Soaking in the Nakusp Hot Springs

Birthday Trip to the Hot Springs

by Peter Klopp (Chart I – III)

Yesterday I found my mailbox flooded with Happy Birthday messages. Also on Facebook there was a long line of congratulatory notes. So the news is out. I can no longer hide the fact. It was my birthday. It is impossible for me to respond individually to all these heart-warming greetings from all over the world (Germany, France, Mexico, USA and Canada). So I will post a small photo gallery that will show what Biene (Gertrud) and I were doing on my special day. Since we hadn’t been to the Nakusp Hot Springs for such a long time and I had quite a few attacks of rheumatism as of late, my little wish was to go and soak my aching bones in the mineral rich pool. This turned out to be just what the doctor ordered and we both returned home having relished a truly relaxing afternoon. Thanks to you all for your good wishes on my 73rd!


William Laux – His Art, His Castle and a Tower of Bats – Part II

From the archives of the Arrow Lakes Historical Society

Author Unknown

On Thursday, the 7th of October 2004, Bill Laux, resident of 42 years on the lake shore south of Fauquier, succumbed to advanced lung cancer. Bill, when first diagnosed with the dreadful disease, had resigned himself that his life was nearing its end, but picked up a hopeful attitude again when chemo-therapy and blood transfusions gave him back some strength. He even went to visit some friends again, albeit with the oxygen bottle in a little backpack. He could continue to write some more on the early Kootenay mining and railroad ventures, which had been subjects close to his heart. He had been an avid collector of historical facts about the Kootenays.

Bill Laux

Bill Laux

Bill was bom in La Crosse, Wisconsin, 28th Feb. 1925. He served in the American Army in the last two years of the Second World War and then studied various subjects, majoring in English. His father had been a professor for European history. While Bill’s brother James followed their father’s footsteps and became a history professor too, Bill ventured out into the great outdoors, taking employments in the US Forest and National Parks Service, in particular in Yosemite Park, where he met his wife Adele. They both had artistic inclinations, which came to the fore when they met Jack and Janie Wise, who were running a batik factory in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

The militarily charged atmosphere in the US drove the two couples in the early 60’s to British Columbia, where they settled on the shores of the Lower Arrow Lake south of Fauquier, building up a new Batik workshop and studio under the name “Vaki Batiks”, in which they designed and produced many fine batiks, which were sold at first mostly to California and later also in Vancouver, Banff, Calgary and other art markets.

The first batik workshop, then on what is now Cedar Springs Farm, was located in an old chicken brooder house that had a masonry stove with a large platform, ideal to keep dye vats at the right temperature. One day hot melted wax must have leaked onto the red-hot heating elements of a little hot plate and set the whole building ablaze in seconds, a great loss for the hard-working artists.

Bill and Adele not only did their art and crafts work, but all the other chores associated with “living off the land”: a large garden, firewood, fences, waterline, road work, hauling in supplies and shipping off art supplies; for over the years, Vaki had become a trademark not only for batik but also for the fine aniline dyes, that were imported from Switzerland and sold out of Fauquier to batik makers over all of North America to give batiks those subtle or brilliant colors.

Jack and Janie Wise left after the initial years (Jack becoming a renowned painter on the west coast, known for his holistic miniature mandalas), while Bill and Adelle continued with Vaki Batiks. In late fall of 1967 Bill suffered the tragedy of the death of his wife Adele, who succumbed to a virulent infection before the illness was correctly recognized and antibiotics could be administered.

The following year Bill was joined by a young woman, Lynne Gilroy, who had worked in a bio-technical laboratory and was familiar with meticulous work. She got into the craft of Batik very quickly and became Bill’s right hand helper, not only in the batikery but also in constructing the large home-made brick structure, that is locally known as Bill’s castle. Indeed, Lynne was so inspired that she, after 8 years with Bill, entered UBC’s School of Architecture and became a graduate architect.

Bill, with and without various apprentices, also gave workshops in several towns and cities of BC and Alberta, teaching the art of batik. To the local people of Fauquier, Bill must have appeared quite a bit as a recluse, because he was so taken up with his work and projects (as well as his studies, to which his extensive book collection attests).

For one, the “castle”, built of home-made bricks, must have taken hundreds and thousands of hours of hard work. The bricks were made from a mixture of clay and sand with a small amount of Portland cement, that was pressed under 50000 lbs. in a little ingenious hand press, imported from South America. The sand and clay not only were mixed by hand, but had to be screened, which in the case of clay meant pulverizing dry clay lumps first to mix evenly with sand and cement. After the moist mixture was pressed into over-sized bricks, they were cured by turning and wetting again, until they were strong and ready – a very time-consuming effort, but a technique, which Bill embraced whole-heartedly as an alternative to “cookie cutter” construction.

Once the bricks were mortared into the structure, they were then painted on the outside with hot waste wax from the batiking process, which made the wall water-repellent. As the waste on a farm goes onto the compost pile, so Bill’s waste from the art studio went onto his architectural structures. Recyling: organic or ceramic? Bill also branched out into sculpturing, adorning his castle with over-life-sized figures.

Bill’s other constant job and concern was his water supply – over 2 km all the way from Heart Creek, via board flume on small trestles, plastic pipe and ditch to his, literally, “home and castle”. To keep this flow going, he battled not only the bears, who every now and then would rip apart flume sections, but the ups and downs of Heart Creek. Over the years, the intake on Heart Creek was destroyed several times by spring run-off or log-jam floods. When Heart Creek rose 3 meters high over its regular banks following last June’s cloudburst, it totally washed out Bill’s most elaborate intake structure of cemented stones. Bill’s immediate neighbor Logan Bumpus, with the help of several friends, was able to rebuilt a new intake within days, restoring the flow of water.

Bill at times had help with the flume project, since several neighbors drew water from the same aqueduct, it was basically his effort and constant vigilance that kept the water flowing towards those shores of Lower Arrow Lake, which are not blessed with abundant mountain runoff because Mineral Ridge is a barrier to those flows between Heart Creek and Taite Creek.

BC Hydro had not reinstalled the power supply along the lake shore south of Fauquier after die flooding of the valley in 1969. So Bill installed a small turbine and generator and made his own electricity. Here we have a man who did not ask what his government can hand him out for free, he simply helped himself.

And Bill helped others. Until the illness cut him down, Bill had been walking the hills and mountainsides with much younger men in the effort to prevent logging or road building in places that could impair the community watershed of Fauquier. He will be missed in the Fauquier Watershed Committee.

Possibly his longest lasting contribution to the valley is Bill’s introduction of the California Redwood tree, the sequoia gigantea. Several grow around his place as well his neighbors’ and I hear one is doing just fine right down in Fauquier

Although Bill was at times perhaps a grumpy recluse, he has many friends and as he aged, he made more in the local community. I believe none of us ever fathomed his depth completely. I got an inkling of his soul when we talked about music that we both loved. So here is to Bill a verse inspired by Mahler’s last song from the “Songs of a Wayfarer”:

By my house there stands a maple tree, there I worked many hours and I felt so free,

And that maple tree that spread its broad leaves over me.

Then I knew at last how life can be.

All was well, all was well, all was well with me.

Well my pain, well my love, well my world and dream.

By the castle now stand some Sequoia trees they grow in freedom and they grow in peace. And those Sequoia trees they’ll grow for a many hundred years.

A tea in honor of Bill Laux will be held Sunday, October 31st, 1 pm, at the Fauquier Hall.

When writing about the Fauquier Communication Centre in a future post, I will return one more time to Bill Laux and his work. He donated much of his historical research material and the remaining batiks to the Centre. I also need to report here that a few years after Bill’s death his castle burned down. More than ten years later people traveling through still inquire about the castle that is no more.