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Monday, September 21, 2015



Private Charles Gray, Quarry Cemetery, France
According to the Regimental history Battle Royal, out of the 245 officers and 8096 that served in Toronto's 3rd Battalion, 67 officers and 1153 other ranks had been killed. The majority of the men that were Killed in Action during World War One from the 3rd Battalion were never found or identified. Therefore their names are perpetuated on either the Ypres Menin Gate Memorial (Belgium) or on the Vimy Ridge Memorial (France). Many lay in cemeteries as an "Unknown Canadian Soldier". However many were identified and given proper burials. In many cases their remains were located on the battlefields of the Western Front and moved post-war to nearby graves administered or under the auspices of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission into consolidation or clearance cemeteries. An example of a consolidation cemetery is Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest CWGC cemetery with 11,871 burials of which 8,365 (70%) are unidentified. In other situations when battlefield conditions allowed, men were buried in burial grounds very close to the Front where they were killed. An example of this is No.2 Cemetery, Sunken Road located near Courcelette in the Somme. Here  the 2nd (Eastern Ontario) Battalion buried 44 of their men in days after their attacks in September and October, 1916. A large number of men were wounded often severely in the trenches or battlefields and moved first to the Battalion first aid post, then to the nearest Casualty Clearing Station, and finally, if necessary to a stationary or general hospital, most of which were located in towns some distance from the fighting and many in towns on the British Channel like Wimereux , Etaples or Boulogne. All of these locations had nearby cemeteries where  the soldiers that succumbed to their wounds would have been buried. There are no unknowns in these type of cemeteries. Over the last couple of decades I have been privileged to visit many of the cemeteries in the Western Front in which men of the 3rd Battalion are buried. I felt it might be time to describe some of these burial grounds. They range in physical size, the raison d'etre, attractiveness, and in the case of the 3rd Battalion, number of casualties buried. There is one 3rd soldier buried within pretty Quarry Cemetery in Marquion (Private Charles Gray #3132235 27/09/1918) and there are 40 3rd Battalion men buried with the Somme's Adanac Military Cemetery. The numbers do not include "Unknown Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion" such as Passchendaele New British Cemetery which contains three identified 3rd men but also at least three unknown. (see my post on Sydney Churchward).  Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery which for official purposes contains seven 3rd men but unofficially probably contains at least nine 3rd Battalion unknowns moved from Duck's Bill, Orchard in Givenchy. I am not going to try to describe every cemetery in which 3rd Battalion men are buried - only ones I am familiar with.  

Ploegsteert Wood Military Cemetery
Three cemeteries stand out that I have visited mainly for their beauty and remoteness. The one that remains the most outstanding for me is Ploegsteert Wood Military Cemetery 14 km south of Ypres which can only be reached by a walk along a strenuous long path through the woods (the same path leads also to Toronto Avenue and Rifle House Cemeteries, neither of which contain 3rd men). The cemetery contains six men from the 3rd, casualties of static trench warfare in the woods. It was here that the Christmas truces of 1914 and 1915 took place. Here the distance between the Commonwealth and German trenches was only 50 feet in places as well my grandfather was captured here October 1915. A small, neatly arranged ground tightly surrounded by trees of the forest and little visited which is sad. The second outstanding cemetery is Valley Cemetery in Vis-en-Artois 12 km SE of Arras. This beautiful, little cemetery contains 69 Commonwealth burials including 31 from the 3rd Battalion. Norm Christie describes the cemetery as "located in a farmer's field with Quebec Cemetery to be seen on a rise to the east. It is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in France". I would have to agree with him. All 31 3rd men were killed in hand to hand fighting in the Orix Trench August 30, 1918; seven of the men decorated for bravery; four more than once. The final outstanding cemetery that remains with me is Brussels Town Cemetery located in the northeast corner of the city. There are 9 3rd Battalion men buried here, 2 were POWs died in captivity and moved from prison camps, the other 7 succumbed to the influenza epidemic late 1918, early 1919 which the Battalion was in occupation duties in Germany. The C.E.F. plot can be reached by a long walk along the main road which is lined with huge, old family crypts in some cases more than a century old. Hugh ancient trees and horticulture of every description all add to a very eerie but rememberable vision.
Valley Cemetery, France  31 graves 3rd Battalion
The one single cemetery that I have visited that contains the most 3rd Battalion dead is Adanac Military Cemetery. It may may one of most visited as well. It is reached by a short walk through a farmer's field and is about 1 km NE of Courcelette. Its burials number 3,172 with 1,071 being Canadians and of these 510 remain unidentified. The 3rd Battalion 40 casualties all date to the unsuccessful attack on Regina Trench October 8, 1916 (200 graves date from that date). The entire Canadian battlefield can be viewed from the cemetery and it is a must see for all Canadian visitors. Incidentally "Adanac" is Canada spelled backwards. I have a strong feeling that a distant relative, 18 year-old Frederick Fulkerson

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.

21 August 1916
Frederick, 27, and Reginald Wild, 22, died whilst serving with the 43rd Battalion Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force. According to the Toronto Star, they had two other brothers, William and Arthur. Frederick Wild was born in Worcester, England on 14 August 1889. His attestation was signed in Toronto on 9 November 1915, in which he indicated that he had prior military experience - 3 years in the

The Brothers Wild Killed In Action same day, Railway  Dugouts
2nd Worcesters and 14th months in Toronto's 48th Highlanders. He was a carpenter by trade. Reginald Wild was also born in Worcester, on 14 November 1894. A farmer, he attested in Toronto on 22 July 1915 and he wrote that he had 9 months experience in the Canadian militia. Sons of George and Mary Ann Wild, of Canning Avenue, Islington, Ontario, the brothers are commemorated on adjacent markers in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground near Zillebeke. They had originally been buried in Valley Cottages Cemetery.

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