Memorable Manitobans: John Alexander “Jack” Sproule (1917-1995)
Born at Brandon on 23 November 1917, son of Alexander Bold Sproule (1878-1934) and Alice Marie Gurr (1881-1962), he attended Brandon Collegiate and learned to fly at the Brandon Flying Club. He joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1937 and served with 58 Bomber Squadron. He transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1944 and was the first Wing Commander of the new RCAF 437 Squadron (The Husky). In the fall of 1944, he led that squadron into battle over Arnhem during Operation Market Garden and was awarded the Dutch Bronze Lion. A few weeks earlier, he had been shot down over the Falaise Gap and, after successfully returning to Allied lines, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).
After the war, he was the Commanding Officer of the RCAF Base London, Ontario (1952-1954) and Canadian Joint Air Training Centre (CJATC) Rivers (1954-1957). From 1957 to 1961, he was the Director of Postings and Careers at RCAF Headquarters in Ottawa. He served as the Commandant of the National Defence College in Toronto (1961-1964) and was the Director of the 23rd Norad Division at Stewart Air Force Base in New York (1964-1968). He retired in 1968 after 31 years of service. On 14 February 1942, he married Margaret Olive Kerrigan (1919-2009) at St. Mary's Anglican Church in Windsor, Ontario and they had three sons.
He died at Ottawa, Ontario on 7 June 1995.
Birth, marriage, and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Sproule-Kerrigan bridal is solemnized in Windsor,” Winnipeg Tribune, 18 March 1942, page 10.
“Wing Comdr. J. A. Sproule,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 March 1946, page 22.
“London to light up for victory fete,” Winnipeg Tribune, 4 May 1946, page 16.
Obituary [Alice Marie Sproule], Winnipeg Free Press, 5 January 1962, page 24.
Obituary [Margaret Olive Sproule], Ottawa Citizen, 26 February 2009.
We thank Robert Sproule for providing additional information used here.
Page revised: 18 December 2020