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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Lieutenant Henry Lloyd Hammond, 215th Squadron, RAF, MIA

Born August 6, 1895 on a farm in Woodhouse Township, Port Dover, Norfolk County, Ontario to parents George Hammond and Elizabeth Burtch. The farmland in this area of South-Western Ontario has very sandy and fertile soil, allegedly the best in Canada. They did and continue to grown high income crops like tobacco, asparagus, ginseng and ginger. As the oldest son, owning this farm was the future Henry Lloyd had to look forward to. His officer's attestation record shows that on January 1, 1916 a medical officer considered him fit for active duty, single, occupation was a farmer, he had served in the 39th Norfolk Rifles Regiment and enrolled in "Canadian Officer Training Corps" for one year.

He was enlisted in the 133rd (Norfolk's Own) Battalion in Simcoe, Ontario as a Lieutenant on January 1, 1916. However somewhat puzzling in his service file is a notation dated October 2, 1916 "S.O.S.  Permitted to resign - inefficient". His last pay day was November 1, 1916. However in researching the background of Henry Lloyd Hammond, we were investigating his death on August 4, 1918 and how he came to be piloting a British heavy bomber of the period (Handley Page 0/400) in the skies over France. I was sure that his statement as having one year in the C.O.T.C. was relevant so when I could not locate his name on either the McGill or U of T Honor Memorials, I looked farther afield. Sure enough I found his name on the Memorial Roll of the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph graduating in 1917 on the Honor's List. I am suspecting Henry's father, George, was an area farming and political friend of Lt.- Col. Arthur Clarence Pratt, Officer in Command 133rd Battalion and the long-time MPP (1909-1919) for South Norfolk, Country and born just down the road in Lynedoch. Pratt was no doubt more than an acquaintance to Sir Sam Hughes therefore released Henry Lloyd legally by using the excuse that he wasn't efficient. What we didn't know as while that during his service in the 133rd Battalion AND during his classes at O.A.C. in Guelph, in all probability he was taking flying instruction late 1916/early 1917 at Leaside Aerodrome and ground classes at University of Toronto. He met his future wife, Roselin Kenney, about this time in Toronto. They married November 5, 1917 in Toronto probably after his flight instruction was finished up in Texas and prior to leaving for England.Much of the maintenance and ground crew of the early RAF (Canada) was female. He gave his occupation as farmer AND soldier. She was a housekeeper.
At his point, we have not found the British service record for Henry Lloyd Hammond. Again speculation says he arrived in England late 1917 or early 1918 around the time the 215th Squadron was being raised. No. 215 Squadron RAF was formed in France on 1 April 1918 by renumbering No. 15 squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service. No. 15 Squadron RNAS had been formed on 10 March 1918 to operate the Handley Page 0/100 as a night bomber squadron against targets in Germany. Soon after the squadron became part of the Royal Air Force it returned to England to re-equip with the Handley Page O/400 before returning to France as part of the Independent Air Force. After World War I hostilities ended (November 1918), the squadron disbanded on 18 October 1919.

So Lieutenant Hammond was assigned to this 215th Squadron, a night bombing unit fighting the huge-for-its-time Handley Page O/400 heavy bomber. This monster operated with a crew of three - a pilot and two
Royal Air Force Handley Page O/400 heavy bomber
observer/gunners. On the night of August 3, 1918, aircraft HP O/400 #C2372 was flying a night bombing mission to a target called FIVES Railway Station behind German lines with Lieut. H.L.Hammond as pilot; Sgt. H.F. Pheby as gunner and 2nd/Lt H.W. Brinkworth as gunner. The aircraft was lost: Hammond was classed as Missing In Action; Brinkworth and Pheby classed as Killed In Action. Strangely, the Veteran Affairs Canada Virtual Memorial have Lieutenant Hammond listed on the Arras Memorial and not on the Arras Flying Services Memorial, where rightly VAC should have him. This is where Sergeant Henry Thomas Pheby #220141 and 2nd/Lt Wilfrid Henry Brinkworth are located. There is some possibility. the aircraft was downed behind German lines with the three men being taken prisoner and/or injured  and/or buried behind enemy lines.

Thanks once again for Marika Pirie and her photos and newspaper clippings.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Private George Lawrence Price #256265, 28th Battalion Last Man KIA

Photo by Bob Richardson 2007

James McWilliams

Half a mile behind him, the village of Havre, east of Mons, was in joyous tumult as Belgian villagers welcomed their liberators, A Company of the 28th Northwest Battalion of the Canadian Corps. Private Goodmurphy had abandoned the festivities to do his own reconnaissance of the suspicious-looking hamlet across the Canal du Centre. His platoon had been told by Captain ‘Blondie” Ross to halt on the west bank of the canal. But the west side was devoid of cover, and Goodmurphy had spotted loop-holes in the top level of the brick house closest to the bridge. When the advance resumed it would be over this bridge the 28th would cross. The house offered a perfect position for German machine-guns to sweep the bridge and its approaches.

Art Goodmurphy, a former glazier from Regina, was a veteran despite his twenty-one years. He had been through a lot with the 28th -- the Somme in 1916, Vimy Ridge, Hill 70 and Passchendaele in 1917, and already this year -- Amiens, the D-Q Line, Canal du Nord and Cambrai. Now at last the Allies were on the move, pushing the Germans steadily eastward. Casualties had been a lot lighter over the last ten days. It looked like the end of the war was near, but it didn’t pay to get confident. Yesterday a shell had ploughed into the ground beside Goodmurphy and four of his chums. They should have been goners, but it failed to explode. Then there was Private Coughler, killed just a few days ago. Now there was this suspicious bridge. If anything looked like a trap this was it.

Goodmurphy rose cautiously to his feet. All remained silent except for the distant rejoicing. He advanced along the road towards the ominous bridge crouching like a gigantic iron grass-hopper over the canal. So intent was he upon the dark loop-holes that he jumped when a soft voice called from beside him, “Murph, where you going?”

It was Private Price, an A Company runner, crouched behind a shrub. George Price was a native of Port Williams, Nova Scotia. One of very few Maritimers in the Saskatchewan battalion, he had been working on a farm near Stony Beach when he walked into Moose Jaw to enlist. “Looks suspicious to me,” said Price. “I think we should go across there and see what‘s in those houses. Let’s get a couple more guys to go over with us.”

Within minutes they had found three more ’Norwesters’ to make the recce. All were Privates and Lewis-gunners, but as no one wanted to lug the heavy weapons on a reconnaisance patrol, each was armed only with a pistol. If any had thought to look at their watches, they would have discovered it was almost eleven o’clock on the most important day of their lives -- 11 November, 1918.

At 05.00 that morning, in a railway car on a siding in the Forest of Compiegne, the German and Allied delegations had signed the documents arranging the Armistice. All fighting would cease in six hours -- at 11.00. An hour and a half after the signing, at 06.30, Canadian Corps Headquarters had received the news. From there it had been dispersed to the four divisions, then to the twelve brigades, then down to the forty-eight battalions and support units. From battalion headquarters it had became more difficult to disseminate the glad tidings. The last weeks’ rapid pursuit meant that numerous platoons, sections and even individuals, were scattered over a wide area, all isolated and hard to find as they slipped stealthily forward along country lanes, through woods, and across fields devoid of cover.

The foremost unit was the 28th Northwest Battalion, advancing south of Mons against increasing enemy fire. It had been 09.30 while clearing the Bois la Haut that Headquarters of the 28th had received Marshal Foch’s communiqué accompanied by this terse addendum:

“Attacking battalions ordered to push on with all possible speed in order to gain as much territory as possible before 11.00 hours.”

An officer astride a captured horse was sent to notify the platoons stretched along the line of advance. In Havre the word had arrived around 10.30. “The street was plugged with people shouting, ‘Germans kaput!’ We reached a corner with five roads and a big building marked with bullets and shrapnel from 1914 when a staff officer appeared and said there was going to be an armistice,” recalled Dick Herrod of Moose Jaw. “‘What the hell’s an armistice,’ we asked after he was gone. Then word came from somewhere to ’Give ’em hell till eleven o’clock.”

Meanwhile half a mile ahead, the five privates, alert and watchful, were advancing on the ominous bridge. They had just reached the west bank of the canal when they spotted a German machine-gun crew setting up on a knoll on the far side, but to the right of the houses. Without a moment’s hesitation they all dashed across the bridge into the hamlet of Ville-sur-Haine. Except for the loop-holes in the nearest of the two adjoining houses, all appeared serene.

“We ran up to this first brick house, kicked the door open, and went in just like gangsters with our pistols drawn,” recalled Art Goodmurphy. Waiting for them were the inhabitants, Monsieur Stievenart and his six-year-old son, Omer -- alone. “Les allemandes sont alles,” they announced, their faces beaming. Upstairs, the Canadians found beside the loop-holes, a litter of tools and spent casings.

Years later Omer Stievenart recalled, “About 10.30 the Germans suddenly ran down stairs, left their tools and ran away, not by the front door, but by the rear. My father and Monsieur Lenoir (who lived next door) surprised at the unexpected flight, looked toward the bridge and distinctly saw soldiers in khaki uniforms -- just like the British in 1914.” Thus Ville-sur-Haine had its first glimpse of its liberators.

In the adjacent house the Canadians discovered only an elderly couple, the Lenoirs. After searching that house, they gratefully accepted celebratory refreshments. No sooner had they taken glasses in hand when German machine-guns opened up from the knoll behind the houses. Bullets knocked tiles from the rear roofs and pock-marked the solid brick walls. Price and Goodmurphy stepped into the street, sheltered by the houses, to check on the bridge. “It looked like an emery wheel the way the bullets were ricocheting off that iron-work. There was no way anybody could cross that bridge now.” The Canadians gathered in the Stievenarts’ house on the corner to plan their next step.

At that moment, five minutes before eleven, these five young Canadian privates were the tip of the entire Allied advance. They knew nothing of that, nor that the rest of the world was going mad with joy at the impending cease-fire. They just knew their recce patrol had sprung the suspected trap, and they were stuck on the wrong side of the canal. Because there were no windows overlooking the canal, Price and Goodmurphy decided to have another look at their escape route while the enemy blasted away at the back wall of the house. Maybe they had quit firing upon the bridge.

Lifting the latch, the two stepped out onto the cobbled street. The bridge was still under heavy fire, with ricochets whining in all directions. Then they sighted a lone German soldier. “He was down in the canal creeping along the edge of the water. He was ducking down, but he didn’t know we were there.” Price and Goodmurphy looked at one another, but neither moved to shoot him. “Hell, he was just trying to get out of there, back to his own people.”

By now more of the 28th had arrived on the far bank of the canal and taken what little cover they could find. From there they watched the final scene unfold. Even closer, across the street, was another eye-witness, Mademoiselle Alice Grotte, a twenty-three year-old nurse with dark, flashing eyes. She saw the two young Canadians step into the street, while the elderly Lenoirs beckoned wildly for them to come back inside.

“George was facing me,” recalled Art Goodmurphy, “and I was saying something to him when all of a sudden, BANG! He fell forward into my arms. I could have cried. It was not an accidental shot. It was a sniper from way up the end of the street.”

Alice Grotte darted into the street heedless of the sniper as Goodmurphy dragged his comrade to shelter behind a brick wall. Together they carried him into the end house. Everyone tried to help. Madame Lenoir tried to feed the wounded man broth; the nurse, Alice Grotte, made Price as comfortable as possible. She recognized that he was mortally wounded. Within a minute or two Private George Lawrence Price was dead, the last battlefield casualty of The Great War, the War To End All Wars.

All at once the machine-guns stopped their savage chatter. No rifle shots sounded. In the distance church bells rang. The four Canadians decided to chance re-crossing the bridge carrying their comrade’s body. In silence they crossed while from the distance came sounds of jubilation. On the far side they met Captain Ross and told him what had happened.

“But the war is over. The war is over,” the shocked Captain kept repeating.

“Over?” exclaimed Goodmurphy incredulously. “Over? How the hell did we know that? No one told us. It sure as hell wasn’t ‘over’ across there!”

The villagers of Ville-sur-Haine pleaded to be allowed to provide a coffin and bury their fallen hero, but Price was buried in the nearby cemetery of St. Symphorien. Like every Canadian soldier killed in action, he was laid to rest wrapped in a blanket. By one of those ironies of war, the last casualty was buried beside the British soldiers killed near Mons during the first battle of the war.

George Price’s comrades met again fifty years later, on 11 November, 1968, to erect a monument to his memory on the spot where he died. With them to unveil the plaque on the wall of the Stievenart’s house was the last commanding officer of the 28th ‘Norwesters’. Also present was the girl with the dark, flashing eyes who fifty years earlier had tried to save the life of Private Price, the last casualty of The War To End All Wars. The plaque states in both English and French:


A number of years ago, James L. McWilliams sent me the foregoing article he had written as an article ffor Reader's Digest magazine and gave me permission to share it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Private John Henry Parr 4th Battalion/Manchester Regiment 1st KIA

Photo by Bob Richardson 2007

 John Henry Parr (19 July 1897 – 21 August 1914) was a British soldier. He is believed to be the first soldier of the Commonwealth killed by enemy action in the First World WarParr was born in Lichfield Grove, Finchley, now in the London Borough of Barnet. His father was a milkman. He lived most of his life at 52 Lodge Lane, North Finchley, the youngest of the eleven children of Edward and Alice Parr.  Many of his siblings died before their fourth birthday.On leaving school, he took a job as a butcher's boy, and then as golf caddy at North Middlesex Golf Club. Then, like many other young men of the time, he was attracted to the army as a potentially better way of life, and one where he would at least get two meals a day and a chance to see the world. 

The 5'3" tall Parr joined the 4th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment in 1912, aged 15, but claimed to be 18 years and one month old to meet the minimum age requirement. He was nicknamed "Ole Parr", possibly after Old Tom ParrPrivate Parr specialized in becoming a reconnaissance cyclist, riding ahead to uncover information then returning with all possible speed to update the commanding officer. At the start of World War I in August 1914 Parr’s battalion was shipped from Southampton to Boulogne-sur-MerFrance. With the German army marching into Belgium, Parr's unit took up positions near a village called Bettignies, beside the canal running through the town of Mons approximately 8 miles (13 km) away. On 21 August, Parr and another cyclist were sent to the village of Obourg, just north east of Mons, and slightly over the border in Belgium, with a mission to locate the enemy. It is believed that they encountered a cavalry patrol from the German First Army, and that Parr remained to hold off the enemy whilst his companion returned to report. He was killed in the ensuing rifle fire. Since the British army retreated to a new position around the Marne after the first battle of Mons, Parr's body was left behind. In the ensuing months, the slow entrenchment of the war meant that news of Parr's death was not recognized until much later. After a while his mother wrote to the regiment asking about her son, but they were unable to tell her of his condition, and it may have been that they thought that he had been captured. At the time, there were no dog tags to help with the identification of casualties. The circumstances of his death remain unclear: the front line was approximately 11 miles (18 km) away, and he may have been killed by friendly fire rather than a German patrol, or in the Battle of Mons on 23 August. He is buried in the St Symphorien Military Cemetery, just southeast of Mons, and his age is given on the gravestone as twenty, the army not knowing his true age of seventeen. Coincidentally, his grave faces that of George Edwin Ellison, the last British soldier killed during the Great War. On 21 August 2014, the 100th anniversary of Parr's death, a memorial paving stone was ceremonially unveiled in the pavement outside 52 Lodge Lane. The ceremony was attended by about 300 people, including local dignitaries and Parr family members, one of whom read a letter from his mother to the War Office written in October 1914 to inquire about him. A memorial "standing stone" nearby, to bear a plaque with further details of Parr's life and death, is planned. A plaque has also been placed in the golf club where he worked as a caddy. While Parr is believed to be the first Commonwealth soldier killed in action, several soldiers had been killed by friendly fire and accidental shooting after the declaration of war but before troops were sent overseas, starting with Cpl Arthur Rawson on 9 August 1914. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A/Sergeant Arthur George Knight #426402, 10th Battalion, Victoria Cross

Photo by Bob Richardson 2008
Born June 26, 1886 in Hayward's Heath, Sussex to parents Edward Henry Knight, a carpenter/joiner and Ellen Stoner living in Reigate, Surrey. He had three younger sisters. In the 1911 U.K. Census, Arthur George Knight is found serving in India with the 12th Battery Royal Garrison Artillery and single, born in Ramsgate. We find Arthur George emigrating to Regina, Saskatchewan June 25, 1911 on the S.S. Albania from Southampton to Quebec where he found employment as a carpenter living at 1843 Rae Street. He enlisted in Regina with the 46th Battalion on December 19, 1914. At time of enlistment, Edward Henry Knight was 5'9" tall, had fair complexion, blue eyes, fair hair and his religion was Church of England.

Joined the 46th (South Saskatchewan) Battalion, 1st Reinforcing Draft, December 19, 1914 in Regina, Saskatchewan. They sailed July 5, 1915 from Montreal to Southampton on the S.S. Edele. On arrival Shorncliffe Camp July 18 assigned to 32nd Reserve Battalion. Forfeited 7 days pay for AWL Shorncliffe August 19, 1915. Assigned to the 10th Battalion August 23. Sent first to #3 Field Ambulance then to #1 Canadian General Hospital, Etaples for treatment chronic nephritis then January 18, 1916 sent on to Monk's Hospital, Shorncliffe for treatment mylgia. Return to 10th Battalion May 4, 1916. Awarded the Croix de Guerre by the King of Belgium in the Field July 12, 1916. Appointed Lance Corporal June 16, 1917. Appointed Acting Corporal with pay August 22, 1917. Promoted full Corporal September 25, 1917. Broke ankle tripping over barbed wire while delivering food rations, sent to 1st Canadian Field Ambulance. Promoted Acting Sergeant March 3, 1918. Killed in action September 3, 1918. Awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously December 4, 1918.

Killed in action September 3, 1918 during the 4th Division attack on Dury village and the Drocourt-Queant Line. His Circumstances of Casualty form claims " Killed In Action - While taking part in operations with his company, he was struck by shrapnel in the forehead from an enemy shell, at about 3:00 p.m. on September 3, 1918, when 500 or 600 yards left of Buissy. He died shortly after being wounded". Buried in Dominion British Cemetery, grave I.F.15, 9 3/4 miles South East of Arras.

His attestation paper and service record can be found at Library and Archives Canada HERE
His page on the Veteran Affairs Canada Virtual Memorial can be found HERE

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Private Harry Sherman Pope #457399, 3rd Battalion

Photo by Bob Richardson 2014
Born on July 15, 1900 in Smith Falls, Lanark County, Ontario, young Harry was baptized in the Congregational Church, Danville, Quebec in 1903. Father Alfred. a locomotive fireman, and mother, Catherine, I believe were Francophone, despite having an Anglo surname. Harry was the older brother to James, Frederic, Ruby, Lila, Greta and Adeline with the family living 2555 Mance Street, Montreal early 1915. Working as a “plumber”, he joined the 60th (Victoria Rifles of Canada) Battalion, “D” Company on June 15, 1915. At the time of enlistment in Montreal June 15, 1915, Harry was described as 5' 6 1/4" tall,  fair complexion, brown eyes, brown hair, weight 144 pounds. He gave his religion as Presbyterian and his birth date as July 15, 1897, neither of which we now know NOT to be true.

Joined the 60th (Victoria Rifles) Battalion, 1st Reinforcing Draft that sailed August 27, 1915 from Montreal on the S.S. Scandinavian. On arrival at Shorncliffe this draft was absorbed by the 23rd Reserve Battalion on September 6, 1915. Private Pope was then transferred to the 3rd Battalion reaching that unit on December 12, 1915 in the field. His service record states “Killed in Action, bullet in the head, died on reaching Advance dressing Station of No.2 C.F.A.” in the trenches north of Wulverghem January 8, 1916. He is buried in Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery, grave I.E.33, Flanders, Belgium.  We can see that the young man spent only 31 days in the service of the 3rd Battalion. Age 15. 
Baptism Certificate 1900 Private Harry Sherman Pope

His attestation paper and service record at Library and Archives Canada can be found HERE
His page on the Veteran Affairs Canada Virtual Memorial can be found HERE

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Sergeant of the Great War, 3rd Battalion Canadian Infantry

Photo by Bob Richardson 2007
There is a French cemetery named Sains-Les-Marquion British Cemetery, Plot 1 Row B Grave 29, a Sergeant, according to the grave stone, of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Battalion killed on September 29, 1918. I have a photo of a gravestone "A Sergeant of the Great War 3rd Battalion Died 27 September, 1918" grave number E 29, Sains des Marquion Cemetery.

Checking the War Diary casualty list there are no Sergeants from the 3rd Battalion missing that day. There were 17 other ranks killed and 12 other ranks missing in the Battle for Bourlon Woods. All men found were "handled entirely by 1st Brigade Burial Party" which consisted in part of 1 NCO and 12 other ranks from the 3rd Battalion. There was one Sergeant wounded, Sgt. Tellier #426722 but he appears to have survived. As well Sergeant M.Roberts #171720 was KIA that date but buried in Queant C.C. British Extension, grave C-20.

The obvious problem with this burial is that there are no Sergeants from the 3rd Canadian Infantry Battalion missing that day. Nor are there Sergeants missing from any surrounding day. So who is buried in the grave? Richard Laughton of the CEF Study Group Forum is convinced the man might be a Sergeant Donald Land #782323 of the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps. Here is Richard's preliminary analysis: 

There was only one that day, Sgt. Donald Land #782323 of the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps. The only other 3rd Battalion Sergeant KIA in 1918 and recorded on the Vimy Memorial is Adam Gaw #138579 and that was back on September 2, 1918 (and way out of the area).

I think I need some help with this one. Although it is the only option, there remains the question of someone marked "3rd Battalion Infantry" versus "3rd Battalion CMGC". The GRRF only says "3/ Cn. Bn.". Shown below are the 2 pages of the COD file and the GRRF page. The details from the war diary for late September and early October in in Appendix 1A of October 1918(page 1page 2Page 3Page 4, and Page 5).

Where this got messy was reading the COD file as it says the body was buried at 51a F10 4.5/4.5 which is not anywhere close to where the action was on that day. After considerable searching and identifying the area where the 3rd Bn. CMGC was located it became obvious that the card should have read 51a S10 d4.5/4.5. That is just SE of Blecourt almost due north of Tilloy (bottom left corner of MAP 51a). The area is as depicted on Nicholson Map 13 for the Canal du Nord and Cambrai 27 Sept - 11 Oct 1918. SEE update in posts that follow!

What identification would a Sergeant in the 3rd Bn. CMMG have been wearing on September 29, 1918? This cemetery had bodies brought in from Marquion Churchyard and the surrounding battlefields. I have not located any COG-BR for this cemetery. The body was brought in from the location noted above where a cross was erected. It may have said 3rd Battalion CMGC and they noted only 3rd Battalion. The CWGC notes that this cemetery was constructed by the 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade of which the 3rd Battalion CMGC was a part. The "3/" may thus refer to 3rd Brigade as well as "3rd Bn." in this case.

Everything points to this body being that of Sergeant Land. I checked all the other Vimy Memorial Sergeants as well and there is nothing close in time or location and most certainly nothing related to "3rd". Once again I was also sent on a wild goose chase because the map coordinates were wrong.

Having read Richard's report. I do not feel the man buried in this grave is Sgt Land, 3rd CMGC for the following reasons

1. The Sergeant was buried in a mass trench grave among his comrades from the 3rd Battalion.
2. A 1st Brigade Burial Party, including one N.C.O. and 12 ranks from the 3rd Battalion buried these men. I feel that they would know their own men and could differentiate from men from the CMGC
3. The date and location was very specific to an attack launched by the 1st Brigade and the 3rd Battalion Battle of Bourlon Woods.
4. Date of death for Sgt Land is incorrect
5. Death location for Sgt. Land is far from the location of the 3rd Battalion men on the GRRF report, all recovered at the same time and buried in a trench grave.
6. I believe they would have been several closer cemetery burial location options to where Sgt. Land was found.

So who is the mystery Sergeant? My guess is that if indeed it is a Sergeant buried in this grave, then we could look at the other 1st Brigade Battalions (1st, 2nd, 4th) all of whom took part in the battle. Otherwise it could be a mis-identification situation -the man may have not been a Sergeant" at all, date was incorrect, or ?
I do not have an answer at this point but feel that all avenues should be investigated to support the details on the GRRF and the gravestone. Could our man be mentioned incorrectly on the Vimy Ridge Memorial? I believe the date is correct on the gravestone and GRRF unless proven otherwise. The dead of the 3rd Battalion KIA September 27-28, 1918 can be found HERE

Richard Laughton continues:
It is September 28th as when I first was looking at these I thought they had the 1916 war diaries in 1918 and so I went through a number of pages before I convinced myself that the Underwood had a "bad 8" that looks like a "6". A few other keys as well.

If it was Land, he was hit by a MG bullet in the head. If it was not Land and the Corporal, he was lost and missing so we have no idea what condition he was in at the time. If he got hit by the "Milton Gun" it was all over as it was firing over open sites. When I was writing that story a few years ago and read about that I always wondered how many it took out in the hours before it was captured.

There is no doubt in my mind now that it is either Sergeant Land or Corporal Paterson. The problem with Paterson is that:

  1. He is not a Sergeant, unless he had a recent battlefield promotion. Even if he did, why did his men not recognize him if it was a 3rd Battalion burial party? The cemetery at Railencourt was much closer then and host to a number of other burials. That cemetery hosted a number of 3 Bn. CMGC as well who were not involved with the barrage fire units.
  2. He was about 4,500 yards past the burial site on his path from Cagincourt ( 51b.V.9.c.6.0 ) to Haynecourt ( 51b.X.15.a.9.8 ) and north to Sans-le-Marquion (51b.W.10.c.2.0). Those are "central" codes for the communities off the trench McMaster map.

One of the leads I was following on this case was the whereabouts of Sgt. Elton Kight of the 3rd Battalion CMGC (see Where is Sgt. Elton Kight?). Well that opened a whole new CAN OF WORMS as he may not even exist and if he does he is lost!

After spending a large part of the afternoon going through PT II orders, I sadly have to report that I found absolutely nothing on Cpl. Paterson, 3rd Battalion. Appears not to have been promoted to Sergeant. He is also absent from the 83rd Battalion sailing nominal roll which is strange. The QOR Memorial Honour Roll show his date of death as 24/10/1918. So I guess he is not our man. Back to Sergeant Land I guess but I still feel his evidence is largely circumstantial until something concrete is found. Not sure the CWGC folks will buy this one.
I just read the appropriate excerpt from The History of the CMGC (abt. page 340). It appears to me that the 3rd Battalion CMGC and 3rd Infantry Division did not enter the action until morning of Sept 28 6:00am. The attack was launched from areas already captured the previous day Sept 27. Note the 1st Brigade Burial Party was despatched Sept 28 7:00am to collect dead and wounded from the previous day. To me the burial party was in action possibly before Sgt Land was killed. They would not have been collecting bodies in an active battle zone - restricted to areas captured in the previous day's action.

Our Sergeant KIA September 1918 remains a mystery!