Tony Gretcki (1892–1973) was born in Grodno, Russia, and was living in Chicago, Illinois, during the early years of the war. In August 1917, he travelled to Toronto, where he joined the 1st Central Ontario Regiment. His wife Annie and their five-year-old son remained in Russia. Like many economic migrants, Gretcki may have been tempted to attest for the pay a soldier earned in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and the ability to remit part of it to his family in Russia. However, in late 1917 the Germans captured Gretcki's area of Russia, and thus money could no longer be sent to his family. He served in France and achieved the rank of “sapper,” or engineer responsible for things such as maintaining roads and bridges, and purifying drinking water. Gretcki decided to stay in Canada after being discharged in April 1919, and he was later joined by his family. As his discharge papers show, at some point in the war, Gretcki began spelling his surname as Gretzky, probably to help his companions pronounce what was then an unfamiliar name for Canadians. Thanks to Tony's grandson, NHL legend and Hockey Hall of Fame member Wayne Gretzky, the family name is now one of the most famous in Canada.
Service Record Details
Date of Birth: April 10, 1892
Date of Attestation: August 21, 1917
Age at Enlistment: 25 years
Prior Military Service: None
Height: 5 feet, 5 1/2 inches
Weight: 150 pounds
Description: Fair complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair
Home Address: 7512, 61st Street, Chicago, Illinois
Trade: Stationary firefighter
Next of Kin: Annie Gretcki
Theatre of War: Europe
During the war, Private Gretcki was hospitalized for scabies, a common affliction for front-line troops.
Interesting Details from the Service Record
The London Gazette
No mentions found.
Military Medals, Honours and Awards (1812–1969)
No mentions found.
No records located.