Private Henry Hesey Kerr, Quatre-Vents Military Cemetery
Gunner Pittam Singh, Quatre-Vents Military Cemetery
Private Victor Hugo Sørensen, Quatre-Vents Military Cemetery
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. Continue reading →
Walter F Rendell, CBE, is buried in Forest Road Anglican Cemetery, St. John’s
July 1 is Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador, a solemn day of remembrance of the single greatest disaster in Newfoundland history. At Beaumont-Hamel, the Newfoundland Regiment was virtually wiped out in half an hour on the first morning of the Somme Offensive, July 1, 1916. All the officers were killed or wounded. On one of the bloodiest days of the war, only one other battalion had a higher casualty rate.
And what of those who served and returned? Each soldier tells a story. Continue reading →
Pte James C Richardson, Adanac Military Cemetery
James Cleland Richardson was early to enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, signing up at Valcartier in September 1914, aged 18. He fit the typical profile: a young man who had emigrated from the UK (in his case, Scotland) to Canada with his family. In his adopted home of Vancouver, he joined the Seaforth Cadets and distinguished himself as a piper.
In an August 1915 letter to his mother, Richardson wrote:
I haven’t heard of a piper playing in a charge yet and if the truth be known I don’t think there ever will be such an occurrence. Just picture a man standing full height playing the pipes, facing machine guns, rifles, bombs, shrapnel etc. How long would he last? The tighter you hug the ground in a charge the better for yourself and the worst for the enemy. This is not a war at all it is “scientific slaughter.” What chances have men against guns.
Continue reading →
Memorial bench at Lochnagar Crater dedicated to WW1 nurses and VADs,
Lochnagar Crater, Ovillers-la Boisselle, France
The Lochnagar mine was an underground explosive charge planted by the British beneath the German front line. It was detonated on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The explosion – the largest and loudest man-made* explosion at the time – left a crater 70ft (21m) deep by 330 ft (100 m) wide.
The crater is now preserved as a WW1 memorial. A wooden walkway installed around the rim of the crater offers a good view of the depth. Twenty interpretive panels tell about the crater, the people and the aftermath of war. Continue reading →
New grave marker for Lachlan Kingsbury, Ebenezer Church
Orville O Fletcher, remembered in Ebenezer Cemetery
Harley Clifton Elsley remembered in Ebenezer Cemetery
For a few weeks this August, Great War 100 Reads is revisiting some sites, to explore additional or altered elements of remembrance.
Nine names are on the WW1 Honour Roll of Ebenezer Church, on Guelph Line in Nassagaweya Township (now part of the Town of Milton), Ontario. Orville Fletcher, Laughlin (Lachlan) Kingsbury, Stanley Fletcher, John Locker, Normal S Marshall, Ivan Noble, Herbert Oldfield, Harley Clifton Elsley and Charles Norrish were all sons of local farming families. Three were killed in the course of their service. All three are remembered in the adjacent cemetery and on the Nassagaweya cenotaph. Continue reading →
Newfoundland caribou facing the former foe with head thrown high in defiance
Caribou overlooks names of Newfoundlanders with no known grave
Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial Park
Tread softly here! Go reverently and slow!
This past Saturday, July 1, marked the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation, a day for the country to rejoice, reflect and reconcile. In Newfoundland and Labrador, it was also Memorial Day, a solemn day of remembrance of the single greatest disaster in Newfoundland history. At Beaumont-Hamel, the Newfoundland Regiment was virtually wiped out in half an hour on the first morning of the Somme Offensive, July 1, 1916. Of the 780 men who went forward, 233 were dead, 386 wounded and 91 reported missing (later assumed dead). While the casualty rate for many battalions was over 50%, for the Newfoundland Regiment it was 90%. All the officers were killed or wounded. On one of the bloodiest days of the war, only one other battalion had a higher casualty rate. Continue reading →
Charles Moss: an able counsel, a kindly associate and an honorable man
Each soldier tells a story.
Amongst the plaques in St James Cathedral at the corner of King St E and Church St in Toronto:
In loving memory of Charles Alexander Moss, Major, Third Battalion, Toronto Regiment, born at Toronto, June the 19th, 1872, wounded in the advance on Regina Trench, Somme, on the morning of October the 8th, 1916, died at Rouen, October the 24th, 1916. Continue reading →
The Volunteer by R. Tait McKenzie
He watches – in a little northern town Through winter cold and parching summer heat
The Volunteer is a tribute to 48 men of Almonte and area who were killed in WW1, as well as a tribute to an individual soldier.
Alexander Rosamond was heir to the prosperous Rosamond Woollen Company, a textile mill in Almonte. He happened to be in the UK on business in August 1914, and enlisted in the British army. In June 1915, he was granted a commission in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and joined the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLIs) in February 1916. He was killed at the Battle of Courcelette on September 15, 1916, aged 43. He has no known grave and his name is on the Vimy Memorial. He left behind his wife Mary and four daughters. Continue reading →
No child or future generation will ever know what this was like. They will never understand.
When it is over we will go quietly among the living and we will not tell them. We will talk and sleep and go about our business like human beings.
We will seal what we have seen in the silence of our hearts and no words will reach us. (Birdsong, p 340)
The generation that lived through WW1 almost managed to keep its horrors to themselves. As time passed, survivors died and other atrocities succeeded it, the Great War risked becoming a forgotten war. Sebastian Faulks’ novel Birdsong was part of a renaissance of remembrance when it was published in the 1990s. Continue reading →
National War Memorial in St John’s
Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve sailor holds a spyglass
Honouring Forestry Corps, Mercantile Marine and Royal Newfoundland Regiment
Memorial Day, July 1, is a solemn day of remembrance of the single greatest disaster in Newfoundland history. At Beaumont-Hamel, the Newfoundland Regiment was virtually wiped out in half an hour on the first morning of the Somme Offensive, July 1, 1916. Of the 780 men who went forward, 233 were dead, 386 wounded and 91 reported missing (later assumed dead). While the casualty rate for many battalions was over 50%, for the Newfoundland Regiment it was 90%. (Some reports say more went over the top, with a result of 85% casualties. But still …) All the officers were killed or wounded. On one of the bloodiest days of the war, only one other battalion had a higher casualty rate. Continue reading →