CEMETERIES OF THE 3RD (TORONTO) BATTALION C.E.F.
|Private Charles Gray, Quarry Cemetery, France|
|Ploegsteert Wood Military Cemetery|
|Valley Cemetery, France 31 graves 3rd Battalion|
I have never visited Toronto Cemetery 14 km SE of Ameins. However it is apparently also difficult to visit with a long path of 500 metres. The cemetery contains 97 Commonwealth burials of which 30 are men from the 3rd Battalion killed on August 8, 1918 Battle of Ameins. Confusing but true, there is also a Toronto Avenue Cemetery located deep within Ploegsteert Woods in Belgium. A small, pretty location however it contains only the graves of 78 Australian men from the 3rd ANZAC Division killed in 1917. The cemetery was apparently named after one of the paths in the woods leading to the 3rd Battalion trenches of fall 1915
This past year (2014) my wife, Lynn, and I tried to photograph as many 3rd Battalion headstones as possible. Unfortunately we ran out of time however I think we were pretty successful. Most of the Hospital and Casualty Clearing Station grounds were avoided as they tend to be some distance from the battlefields. So we concentrated on the battlefield cemeteries. In the space of three days we visited the following 3rd Battalion burial grounds and memorials: Ypres Menin Gate Memorial ( 3 times 8:00pm service); Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (13 from 3rd Battalion); Passchendaele New British Cemetery (3); Woods Cemetery (11); Ploegsteert Woods Cemetery (6); Tyne Cot Cemetery; Wytschaete Military Cemetery and Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Cemetery (24). We believe the most interesting cemetery is Railway Dugouts (Transport Farm) Burial Ground. It seems to have the most eclectic variety of burials from a unit prospective but also has a very unusual layout and surprise, lies alongside an embankment with an active rail line. I have also previously posted on a couple of men lying in this cemetery.
In previous trips to the Western Front I have visited dozens of Commonwealth cemeteries including the following that contain fallen from the 3rd Battalion: Sun Quarry ( 6 from 3rd Battalion); Valley Cemetery (31); Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery; Upton Wood Cemetery (9); Dominion Cemetery (8); Ontario Cemetery (11); Sains-Les-Marquion British Cemetery (18); Quarry Cemetery (1); Adanac Military Cemetery (39); Brussels Town Cemetery (9); Sanctuary Wood Cemetery (4); Bourlon Wood Cemetery; Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.
An interesting anecdote I feel I must share. In 2007 my daughter, Beverly, and son-in-law Greg were stationed and living near NATO's SHAPE north of Mons, Belgium (Greg is in the RAF). I took the opportunity to make visits into the nearby Canadian battlefields. One particular autumn day, Bev and I were in the fields west and north of Courcelette "iron harvesting". We had just eaten lunch in a small cafe in Pys and drove to Adanac Cemetery nearby. Leaving the car behind, as we walked the path to the main entrance, both of us could hear the drone of bagpipes being played in the distance. This continued as we walked into the cemetery and seemed to get louder - very strange as nobody could be seen either nearby or in the distance. We walked down the first couple of rows and when the bagpipes stopped so did we. Looking at the headstone it was that of Piper James C. Richardson, Victoria Cross. One of the strangest feelings I have ever had. Bev and I will not forget that day ever!
|Piper Richardson, Adanac Cemetery|
"One of the 16th Battalion graves belongs to Piper James Cleland Richardson, VC. Richardson won his VC for walking along the uncut barbed wire, and piping his men through the wire on October 8, 1916. His bravery contributed to the attacks success. However the success was short-lived and they had to withdraw from the position in the early morning of Oct. 9th. Richardson had forgotten his pipes and went back to find them, and was never seen again. His remains were found in 1919 and buried in Adanac Cemetery" . Norm Christie, Canadian Cemeteries of the Great War. Years later the bagpipes were recovered and put on display in Scotland. They have recently been repatriated into the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, BC.