He kept his promise to God: a tank commander who became a priest

By Dave Gabriel

We are very honoured to have Father George Elson and his wife Joan, worship with us at St. James Church here in Paris, Ontario.

At the Remembrance Day service, Father George talked to the young ones during the Children’s Focus of some of  his experiences during the war and the meaning behind his medals.

remember-parisBorn Feb 21, 1924. Attended South Ward School and Paris District High School. Left school in 1941 at the age of 17 to join the Army – Assigned to the Governor General Horse Guard.

From Borden he was sent to England for training on the  machine guns.

Fought through Africa and spent most of the time fighting in Italy to reach the border of Holland.

Promoted to Tank Commander with four other soldiers in his tank.

During the fighting in Italy a German anti-tank shell was shot right through his tank. George made sure that all got out safely and it was while he was lying in a wet ditch, waiting to be rescued, that he prayed to God that he was too young to die and if HE would get him out of this mess, he would serve God the rest of his life.

Made it to Cervia in Holland when the war ended in 1945. He was discharged and returned to Paris and worked in the Hardware Store until he started his studies for the ministry at Wycliffe Theological College.

George met and married his wife Joan in 1973. Joan worked for the Wycliffe Bible Translators and spent time as an artist in New Guinea.

He served as a priest in three different parishes in the Diocese of Huron.

He kept his promise to God.

Dave Gabriel is St. James’ parishioner and a member of the parish What’zup Team.