Fallen aviator remembered by family

Tim Friese (left) and Ervan Gould stand beside the gravestone rubbing created in honour of Gould’s uncle, F/Lt Frank Dotten. Photo by Lane Farguson, Manager Media Relations and Communication, Halifax Port Authority

Tim Friese (left) and Ervan Gould stand beside the gravestone rubbing created in honour of Gould’s uncle, F/Lt Frank Dotten. Photo by Lane Farguson, Manager Media Relations and Communication, Halifax Port Authority

Virginia Beaton
Trident Newspaper
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Flight Lieutenant Frank Dotten was just 22 years old when his plane crashed during a bombing run over Nuremberg on March 17, 1945, killing him. He was buried at the Durnbach War Cemetery, a little known fact for current day family members.

It took some historical sleuthing to discover his burial site, but on Nov. 7 it paid off. Ervan Gould, F/Lt Dotten’s nephew, received a framed gravestone rubbing from the gravesite of the uncle he never had the chance to meet.

“We made this happen,” said Tim Friese, a colleague and friend of Gould during a presentation held in the gallery of the Halifax Seaport farmers Market.

Friese, a history buff who volunteers with the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust and The Memory Project, researched the location of the grave with help from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 576 Squadron of the Royal Air Force, and a business owner who lived near the Durnbach War Cemetery.

The business owner made the gravestone rubbing and mailed it to Friese, who then had it framed for the presentation.

Gould, together with a group of friends from Halifax Port Authority, watched as Friese showed a series of photos and documents depicting F/Lt Dotten’s military career.

Among them was a record that indicated all the sorties F/Lt Dotten had flown, a photo of him from November 1944 with his crew from 576 Squadron, and a photo from the visitation book at the cemetery that showed where a local resident signed the book for Ervan Gould in honour of the occasion.

After the event, Gould said he was completely surprised to receive the gravesite rubbing as a memento. “I didn’t know why or what to expect,” he said.

Gould grew up hearing stories about his uncle. F/Lt Dotten was a native of Hants County, Nova Scotia. He joined the RCAF during the war and was flying with 576 Squadron of the Royal Air Force when he was killed. It was a shattering experience for his family, he noted.

Frank Dotten and his father Ervan Dotten who was a First World War veteran. Photo courtesy Veterans Affairs Canada

Frank Dotten and his father Ervan Dotten who was a First World War veteran. Photo courtesy Veterans Affairs Canada

“My grandfather had joined the Canadian Army during the First World War. He was only 17 but he lied about his age to get in. He never talked about his war experiences.”

Nobody in Gould’s family was ever able to visit the cemetery in Germany where F/Lt Dotten was buried, which was a source of sadness, said Gould.

“My uncle’s name is on the headstone of my grandparent’s graves in Selma, in Hants County.”

Now that Gould has the framed headstone from his uncle’s final resting place, he says, “I will appreciate this for the rest of my life.”

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