|Date of Birth||Around 1877|
|Place of Birth||Colombiès, Aveyron|
|Next of Kin||Amantie Bruel (wife), Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Farmer|
|Battalion||124th Infantry Regiment|
|Place of Enlistment||France|
|Date of Enlistment||1914|
|Age at Enlistment||About 37|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||Yes|
Private Adrien Bruel was born around 1877 in Colombiès, Aveyron, France. France had universal conscription at the time and Adrien would have served for three years in the Active Army before being transferred to the Territorial Army and the reserves. His wife Amantie was also born in Colombiès and she was about four years younger than him. Their son Paul was born in Colombiès in 1905 and a year or so later Adrien immigrated to Canada. Reservists were allowed to emigrate with the understanding that they would be called home to serve their country in the event of war.
Adrien settled in Kenora, Ontario and Amantie and Paul joined him in April 1909, arriving in New York from Le Havre on the SS La Gascogne. When the 1911 census was taken the family was living in Melick Township, near Kenora, where they were farming. Three years later when the war started Adrien returned to France, travelling via New York. He served with the French Army’s 124th Infantry Regiment and he became a German prisoner of war. He was sent to Langensalza, a large camp in central Germany that held about 10,000 prisoners.
Starting in January 1916 prisoners of war who were sick or wounded could be sent to internment camps in Switzerland, a neutral country. Adrien was one of almost 68,000 prisoners who were interned in Switzerland over the next three years. He was sent to Saanen in the southwestern part of the country and an article in the Kenora Miner and News mentioned his transfer to Switzerland. It also said that he was captured in the early months of the war and he was one of the prisoners of war ‘adopted’ by the Kenora branch of the Red Cross.
In May 1917 Germany and France agreed that internees would be automatically repatriated to their home country if they’d been prisoners for more than eighteen months. The Armistice ended hostilities in November 1918 and Adrian returned to Canada in the spring of 1919. He sailed from Le Havre with other French war veterans on the SS La Touraine, arriving in New York on 28 March. He was described as 5’6″ with auburn hair and brown eyes and his destination was Kenora, Ontario.
In November 1920 Amantie and Paul returned to Colombiès, France to visit relatives. Adrien joined them in December, travelling via New York again and saying he was ‘going home’ to join his wife. He may have stayed in France permanently as there doesn’t seem to be any further record of him in Canada or the U.S. Amantie and Paul moved back to Canada in March 1921, arriving in New York from Le Havre on the SS La Touraine, on their way to Montreal. They apparently lived in Quebec until the mid-1930s when they returned to Kenora. They settled in Jaffray and Melick, on the outskirts of Kenora, where Paul took up farming.
Amantie passed away in St. Joseph’s Hospital on 29 March 1951, at age 71. Her funeral was held two days later and she’s buried in the Catholic section of Lake of the Woods Cemetery.
By Becky Johnson