Every soldier tells a story. Some died of battle wounds, some were shot at dawn.
The area near Estrée-Cauchy was used by dressing stations for most of WW1, first by the French and then by British field ambulances. British, Canadian, French, German, Indian and South African soldiers were buried in Quatre-Vents. French and German bodies were moved to other cemeteries after the war, leaving 137 identified casualties in the burial ground enclosed by a low wall in the middle of a farmer’s field. Let’s look at three.
Private Henry Hesey Kerr was born in Montreal in 1891, the son of Henry and Lizzie Kerr. A teamster, he attested in June 1915. He was tried for desertion on 5 November 1916 and sentenced to be shot to death. “Sentence duly carried out at 6.45 am” on 21 November 1916.
(Two British soldiers and another Canadian buried at Quatre-Vents were also shot at dawn for desertion: Private John Maurice Higgins of Charlottetown PEI on 7 December 1916; Rifleman Frederick Harding of London, England on 29 June 1916; and Private Allan Murphy on 17 August 1916.)
Gunner Pittam Singh was the son of Tej Singh, of Pempor, Tappal, Aligarh, Khair. He served in the Royal Horse and Field Artillery, Indian Army. He died on 3 April 1918. In Punjabi and English: This Sikh soldier of the Indian Army is honoured here.
Private Victor Hugo Sørensen (spelled Sorenson in his attestation papers) was born in Denmark in April 1885, the son of SP and Lene Sørensen. He attested in Toronto in December 1915. He had served in the Danish and US Armies. In Canada, he was a farmer. He died of wounds on 11 November 1916. On his gravestone: “Dansk frivillig – Bevaret i kærlig erindring af sine kære i Danmark.” Danish volunteer – preserved in loving memory by his loved ones in Denmark.
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