Transcription: Attestation papers of Pte. J. P. Albert Emery, C.E.F.

 Following is my transcription of the form or the Attestation Papers of Pte. J. P. Albert Emery, Canadian Expeditionary Forces, WWI.
Attestation Papers - Pt. J. P. Albert Emery.
Attestation Papers for Pte. J. P. Albert Emery.

ATTESTATION PAPERS OF J.P. ALBERT EMERY

FRONT

Stamp in upper left corner:  Triplicate
Stamp in upper right corner:  Triplicate

G.G.E.G.
militia unit (handwritten under heading)
No. 144880
Folio. 26

CANADIAN OVER-SEAS EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
77TH, OVERSEAS BATTALION, C.E.F.

—————–

QUESTIONS TO BE PUT BEFORE ATTESTATION.
(ANSWERS)

  1. What is your name?                J.P.Albert Emery
  2. In what Town, Townhip or Parish, and in what Country were you born?            St.Andre Avelin, P.Q.
  3. What is the name of your next-of-kin?        Emelie Emery (mother)
  4. What is the address of your next-of-kin?    9 Caron Ave., Wrightsville, Hull, Queb
  5. What is the date of your birth?            23 January, 1895.
  6. What is your Trade or Calling?            Paper-maker
  7. Are you married?                No
  8. Are you willing to be vaccinated or re-vaccinated?                    Yes
  9. Do you now belong to the Active Militia?    Yes
  10. Have you ever served in any Militia Force?    G.G.F.G.
    • If so, state particulars of former Service.
  11. Do you understand the nature and terms of your engagement?    Yes
  12. Are you willing to be attested to serve in the CANADIAN OVER-SEAS EXPEDITIONARY FORCE?    Yes

Albert Emery (Signature of Man).
A.H. Thoburn, Capt (Signature of Witness)

——————–

DECLARATION TO BE MADE BY MAN ON ATTESTATION.

I, Albert Emery, do solemnly declare that the above answers made by me to the above questions are true, and that I am willing to fulfil the engagements by me now made, and I hereby engage and agree to serve in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force, and to be attached to any arm of the service therein, for the term of one year, or during the war now existing between Great Britain and Germany should that war last longer than one year, and for six months after the termination of that war provided His Majesty should so long require my services, or until legally discharged.

Albert Emery (Signature of Recruit)
Date:  Ottawa, Aug. 20th., 1915;       A.H. Thoburn, Capt (Signature of Witness)

———————-

OATH TO BE TAKEN BY MAN ON ATTESTATION.

I, Albert Emery, do make Oath, that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to His Majesty King George the Fifth, His Heirs and Successors, and that I will as in duty bound honestly and faithfully defend His Majesty, is Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown and Dignity, against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of His Majesty, His Heirs and Successors, and of all the Generals and Officers set over me. So help me God.

Albert Emery (Signature of Recruit)
Date:  Ottawa, Aug. 20th., 1915;       A.H. Thoburn, Capt (Signature of Witness)

———————-

CERTIFICATE OF MAGISTRATE.

The Recruit above-named was cautioned by me that if he made any false answer to any of the above questions he would be liable to be punished as provided in the Army Act.
The above questions were then read to the Recruit in my presence.

I have taken care that he understands each question, and that his answer to each question has been duly entered as replied to, and the said Recruit has made and signed the declaration and taken the oath before me, at Ottawa Ontario this 20th. day of August 1915.

Hickland (Signature of Justice)
Date:  Ottawa, Aug. 20th., 1915;       A.H. Thoburn, Capt (Signature of Witness)

———————-
I certify that the above is a true copy of the Attestation of the above-named Recruit.

D.R. Street (Approving Officer)
Lieut. Col.
O. C. 77th Overseas Battalion, C. E. F.
Date:  Ottawa, Aug. 20th., 1915;       A.H. Thoburn, Capt (Signature of Witness)

———————-

Fine print in lower left corner of form:
M. F. W. 23.
200 M.–5-15.

BACK

Descripton of ALBERT EMERY. on Enlistment.

Left column:

Apparent Age            20 years    10 months.
(To be determined according to the instructions given in the Regulations for Army Medical Services.)
Height                           5’6″
Chest Measurement:
Girth when fully expanded    34 1/2 ins.
Range of expansion                   3 1/2 ins.
Complexion                Fair
Eyes                               Grey
Hair                                L.Brown
Religious Denominations:
Church of England
Presbyterian
Wesleyan
Baptist or Congregationalist
Other Protestants (Denomination to be stated.)
Roman Catholic                           X
Jewish

Right Column:

Distinctive marks, and marks indicating congenital peculiarities or previous disease.
Should the Medical Officer be of opinion that the recruit has served before, he will, unless the man acknowledgs to any previous services, attach a slip to that effect, for the information of the Approving Officer.)
None

———————-

CERTIFICATE OF MEDICAL EXAMINATION

I have examined the above-named Recruit and find that he does not present any of the causes of rejection specified in the Regulations for Army Medical Services.
He can see at the required distance with either eye ; his heart and lungs are healthy ; he has the free use of his joints and limbs, and he declares that he is not subject to fits of any description.

I consider him* Fit for the Canadian Over-Sears Expeditionary Force.

Date    August 20th., 195 .    [?]askey
Place    Ottawa, Ont.        Maj. [Awg], Medical Officer
*Insert here “fit” or “unfit.”

Norm – Should the Medical Officer consider the Recruit unfit, he will fill in the foregoing Certificate only in the case of those who have been attested, and will briefly state below the cause of unfitness:–
[Blank lines]

CERTIFICATE OF OFFICE COMMANDING UNIT.

A. Emery, having been finally approved and inspected by me this day, and his Name, Age, Date of Attestation, and every prescribed particular having been recorded, I certify that I am satisfied with the correctness of this Attestation.

D.R. Street (Signature of Officer)
O. C. 77th Overseas Battalion, C. E. F.
Date    March 28    1916

_____________________

The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

 

Grandmère Rose – Marie Marguerite Rose Amande Emery

Gail, Gerard, Grandma Rose and Christine (front) Turmaine
Rear l-r: Patricia-Gail (Gail), Gerard Ronald Joseph (Gerry), Rose Amande Turmaine; Front: Christine Blythe (Turmaine).

Being the child of a military member has one huge drawback – we didn’t have any control over where we lived, when or for how long. As a result, contact with family members was infrequent at best and I do regret not getting to know our relatives better.

My grandparents on my father’s side were Henri Joseph Turmaine (Henri) and Marie Marguerite Rose Amande Emery (Rose Amande).

Therese Paquette (Turmaine) with Christine.
Ma tante Thérèse Paquette and Christine Blythe (Turmaine) circa 1989.

Dad, Gerard Ronald Joseph Turmaine (1934-2005) was the youngest of three children who survived infancy. Dad’s brothers and sisters included Albert Joseph Turmaine (1923-1966), Rose-Marie Azilda Thérèse Turmaine (1929-2003), and Marianne Claudette Andrea Turmaine (1937-1937).

The Turmaine Family
Turmaine Family: Theresa, Henry (Grandpère), Gerard (Dad), Rose (Grandmère), and Joseph.

I was too young to remember much about my grandfather Henri as he died in 1966 in General Hospital in Toronto. I know I saw Grandma Rose quite frequently within the first few years of my life, but again, I was too young to remember much. When I turned 10 in 1970, however, that all changed since we were transferred from Ontario to Comox, British Columbia. We took the last opportunity to visit everyone we could that summer on our trip across the country.

I can remember one particular visit where we were permitted to stay at the cottage of cousins, the Pollaris, at Loon Lake in Ontario. What a beautiful cottage it was, too. A semi-circle shape, the front circular side rested on posts in the lake shore, extending over the water. That entire side of the cottage was one big great room and standing in it felt like being in motion on the lake.

I do remember being awestruck in Grandmère’s home. She was a highly devoted Catholic and as soon as we walked in, we were overwhelmed by praying hands, her obsession. There were praying hands statues, prints, and paintings everywhere.  I can remember being told when I was young that Grandmère’s ambition was for Dad to become a Catholic priest and how disappointed she was when he opted for the military instead and married my mother. Knowing my father, he definitely chose the path that suited his own nature and ambitions, especially considering his naughty, rather raunchy sense of humor. Somehow, I don’t think it would have gone over very well as a priest.

Front: Rose Amande and her mother Émilie Labelle, Rear: Unknown Cousin
Front: Rose Armande Emery seated next to her mother, Émilie (Labelle), wife of Charles (Albert) Emery. MIddle: Betty Turmaine, daughter of Hérmènégilde and Azilda Labelle.

A couple of years later, we saw Grandmère Rose one last time in about 1972 when she came to visit us in Comox. She passed away in 1978. Tante Thérèse came out in 1987 for my sister Andréa’s wedding, in 1989 for Renée’s wedding and in 1991 for my own wedding to Mark. She passed away in 2003 in Chateaugay, Québec. It may seem odd that I haven’t mentioned Dad’s brother, my uncle Albert Joseph, but unfortunately, he had committed suicide just prior to Grandpère Henri’s death in 1966.

Grandmère Rose’s father was Charles Albert Emery, who was born in about 1870 in Vermont, United States and died in about 1915. Her mother was Émilie Labelle, born about 1870 in St. André Avellin, Ripon, Papineau County, Québec to Antoine Labelle (1820-1890) and Joséphine Périllard (born 1844), both of Québec. In addition to Grandmère Rose, they had four other children, of whom one was Pte. Joseph Philias Albert (1889-1917) who was missing in action and presumed dead at Vimy Ridge during WWII. His name is only one of many immortalized on the Vimy Ridge Memorial in France.

Oddly enough, my father’s grandfather Herménégilde (father-in-law to Grandmère Rose) took Marie Joséphine Azilda Labelle as his second wife in 1911. Azilda was sister to Joséphine (and Rose’s grandmother).

Children of Antoine Labelle and Joséphine Périard (Périllard)
Children of Antoine Labelle and Joséphine Périllard.

Antoine Labelle (1820-1890) was the son of Antoine Labelle and Marie Isaac Duplanty dit Héry of Québec, and had been married twice, first to Émilie Fournelle and second on November 23, 1863 to Joséphine Périllard (my great great grandmother), born 1844 in Ste. Magdeleine Rigaud, Vaudreuil, Québec to Michel Périllard and Zoé (Madeleine, Michel) Demers. The 1852 Census of Canada East shows Joséphine Périllard with her parents, brothers and sisters living in 274 Petite Nation Parish, St-André Avellin, Ottawa County.

Antoine and Joséphine’s six children included Émilie Labelle (born 1870), Antoine Labelle (1872-1944), Célima (Délima) (born 1874), Joseph (1877-1944), Marguerite (1880-1960), Azilda (1884-1933).

During my extensive research into my French Canadian ancestry, I’ve come to realize one thing – there are no surprises. Families remained close in proximity and emotion, and marriage within the inner circle – and yes, family, according to the laws of consanguinity of the Catholic church was commonplace.

___________________

The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

 

Transcription – War Diary of the 73rd Canadian Infantry Battalion for the Vimy Ridge Disaster of March 1-3, 1917.

War Diary of the 73rd Canadian Infantry Battalion
War diary of the 73rd Canadian Infantry Battalion at Vimy Ridge.
The following is my full transcription of photocopies of the handwritten pages of the war diary of the 73rd Canadian Infantry Battalion for the Vimy Ridge Disaster of March 1-3, 1917, during which my great uncle Joseph Philias Albert Emery went missing in action.

1917

Vol. VIII, Page I

  • March 1st

Battalion in the lines on its regular frontage.
At 12.05 AM code message was received from the 12th Canadian Infantry Brigade to the effect that the Gas Attack and consequent Infantry Attack, which had been postponed for several days, would take place that morning. This was immediately communicated to the Companies also in code, and preparation for the assembly commenced. At 2.00 am Battalion Headquarters moved to Advanced Battalion Headquarters off UHLAN C.T. where comunication was established with Advanced Brigade Headquarters, and with both points of assembly. “B” and “D” Companies moved up from ARRAS ALLEY and asembled in dugouts in LIME STREET, dugouts on TUNNELLERS RIDGE, and in COBURG NO I TUNNEL, Major Brown 2nd in Command, being in charge of these two Companies which occupied the left half of the Battalion frontage. “A” and “C” Companies, forming the right half of the attack, moved out of the front line to the right where they assembled in BLUE BULL TUNNEL, Major H [P] Stanley being in charge of these two Companies for assembly. The dispositions for the attack were as follows :-
Right Half 1st Wave “A” Coy under Captain B. Simpson and Lieut D. H. Farnori.
Left Half 1st Wave “B” Coy under Captain H H Patch, and Lieuts G.H.H. Eadie and P.G. Hawkins.

VOL VIII, Page II

  • March 1st

2nd Wave, “C” Coy under Lieut G. S. McLennan, Major Munroe and Lieut J. Norsworthy.

No. 1 Patrol, 1 Platoon of “D” Coy under Lieut. Griffiths.
No. 2 Patrol, 1 Platoon of “D” Coy under Lieut. Lester.
No. 3 Patrol, 1 Platoon of “B” Coy under Lieut Hutchinson.

At 2.55 a.m. messages were received from all Companies that they were in position.
At 3 am the first gas cloud, known as the “White Star Gas” was released. Within a few minutes after the release of the gas very heavy rifles and machine gun fires opened upo from the German front and support lines, and the sky was lit upo by hundreds of flares sent up by the Boche; this fire and the sending up of the flares continued for 36 minutes, showing that the gas was not effective. At about 3.06 am the Germans opened heavy Artillery fire across our whole front, which continued tunil 4.00 am at which time it died down and shortly afterwards the situation became almost normal. Soon after 4 o’clock the direction of the wind commenced to change, and by 5 am, which was the time for liberation of the 2nd Gas Wave, it was coming from almost due [North], so that it was decided

VOL VIII, Page III

  • March 1st

that the gas could not be let off. The Infantry Attack was to commence at 5.40 AM. About 5.20 a message was received from Advanced Brigade Headquarters to the effect that there remained considerable gas in our front line trench for a distance extending 300 yard north of [C]RANBY C.T. This interfered with the assembly of our right attacking parties and instructions were immediately sent to Major Stanley to have “A” and “C” Companies assemble in front and behind the front line trench, and to proceed overland instead of assembling in the trench; this complicated the assembly of these two Companies very much, but the situation was admirably handled by Major Stanley. At 5.32 a.m. while the assembly across our whole front was in progress, heavy artillery fire was opened on our front and support lines and on ZOUAVE VALLEY by the Germans. It transpired that the Brigade on our right had commenced to get out over the parapet and form a line in front of our wire at 5.30 instead of waiting for our barrage which was to commence at 5.40 am; this was noticed by the Germans, who immediately sent up their “S.O.S.” with the foregoing result. This meant that the last 5 minutes of the assembly of our parties had to be completed under fire, and a number of casualties occurred before our men got out of our own trenches. On the righ casualties began to come into BLUE BULL

VOL VIII, Page IV

  • March 1st

TUNNEL before much more than half of our attacking parties were out of the Tunnels. A few men were affected by gas on this front. Promptly at 5.40 AM our barrage opened up, and our attacking parties got over the parapet and went forward. On our extreme left our barrage was short, and some casualties were caused to our men by our own fire particularly among the party going out by way of Sap B6. A full account of the action of all attacking paties and the results obtained is attached hereto. Casualties soon began to come back to our lines, about 6.20 Lieut. Eadie reached Advanced Battalion Headquarters and about 6.50 Captain Patch also returned, both wounded slightly. Wounded came in steadily but it was a considerable time before it was possible to even approximately check up casualties. By 8 a.m. the situation had quieted down, except that several of our wounded accompanied by Lieut Hutchison were still out in shellholes beyond Sap B6. The artillery was called upon for a barrage on the German front line to enable these men to be got in, their fire however was short, and word was sent to have it stopped. During this fire Battalion Headquarters moved to the normal position in ZOUAVE VALEY and our own shells lit jut behind the personnel of Battalion Headquarters while moving down UHLAN C.T. It was for a time thought the Germans would counter attack, and this impression was increased by the fact that a German

VOL VIII Page V

  • March 1st

aeroplane made several flights along our line net over 100 yards in the air, evidently observing the number of men in our line and their movements; all precautions were taken to beat off a counter attack, and it did not develope. During the day there continued a certain amount of enemy artillery activity, which, however, did not do any particular harm. That night it was decided to keep the whole Battalion on the eastern side of ZOUAVE VALLEY in case of attack, and the men of the Support Companies were accomodated in tunnels and dugouts on the Wester slope of the Ridge. The night, however, passed quietly. Many individual cases of outstanding bravery were noted during the action, especially Sgt. Millar and Sgt Holmden. During the attack 22 prisoners were taken by this Battalion, 19 of them being taken by Sgt Hannaford and Pte McLachlan. Officers and men without exception fought magnificently. Casualties during the action were as follow :-

Lieuts H P MacGregor, J W Lester, D A Farnori and [P] G Hawkins, Missing
Lieut J W. Griffiths – Died of Wounds
Capt. B Simpson, Capt. H H Patch and Lieuts G H H Eadie and G S McLennan – Wounded
26 OR Killed, 99 OR Wounded 27 OR Missing Total Casualties 161.

As a result of the operation two Officers were recommended for the D.S.O. four Officers for the M.C.

VOL VIII Page VI

  • March 1st

…four OR’s for the D.C.M. and twelve OR’s for the M.M.
Notice received from Brigade that Lieuts. H [S] MacGregor and J H Christie ahd been awarded the Military Cross for their work in connection with the previous raid.

  • March 2nd

During the night a number of parties were sent out into “NO MAN’S LAND” to bring in dead and wounded, and a number of bodies were recovered, these were all sent out and buried in VILLERS and BOIS Cemetery.
The day was fairly quiet, only the usual artillery and trench mortor activity. Large parties of men were employed carrying out empty gas cylinders, as well as those full ones which had not been let off on the 1st Mar. A great deal of work was also necessary, and was sone on those trenches which had been damaged by the enemy’s fire on the 1st. In the afternoon word was received that Hunt Griffiths had died of his wounds, and arrangements were made for representatives of the Battalion to attend his funeral on the 3rd.

  • March 3rd

The early hours of the morning passed fairly quietly, but at 3 am the enemy opened up a heavy artillery and trench mortar fire on our front and support lines, doiing considerable damage. Our artillery retaliation was both slow and ineffective. The German fire caused no casualties, on OR Killed and one OR Wounded by our own Artillery.

________________

More posts about WWI.

WWI War Stories
What We Don’t Hear About Vimy Ridge
UK National Archives treasures: WWI war diaries now online

___________________

The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

 

What We Don’t Hear About Vimy Ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought largely by Canadian troops consisting of all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) from April 9 to 12, 1917, with the objective of gaining control of the German held high ground, ensuring that the southern flank of the forces could advance without the threat of German fire.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the catalyst for a newly born nationalistic pride for Canadians and their achievements as part of the British forces.

Gas Attacks in March 1917 at Vimy Ridge
Gas Attacks in March 1917 at Vimy Ridge

What we don’t hear much about, however, is the disastrous actions taken previously in preparation for the battle.

As described in my previous post ‘War Stories‘, my own great granduncle (brother to my grandmother) was Pte. Joseph Phillias Albert Emery, a soldier with the 73rd Battalion Canadian Infantry, Black Watch. He took part in operations in preparation for the advance on Vimy Ridge and was reported missing on March 1, 1917.

The majority of the losses during this operation were the result of mismanagement by the senior officers. As a result of poor planning, the gas canisters were deployed despite the winds blowing back onto the Canadians, causing mass casualties from the gas.

Below are the six pages of the war diary for the 73rd Battalion on the day my ancestor went missing.

War Diary for the 73rd Battalion

WWI War Stories

Pte. Joseph Philias Albert Emery
Pte Joseph Philias Albert Emery – just one of many WWI war stories.

In my father’s French Canadian, ‘Turmaine’ branch of the family, we have two known soldiers who died in WWI. The first was my grand uncle, Pte. Joseph Philias Albert Emery, and the second was another grand uncle, Pte. Joseph Turmaine – and here are their WWI war stories.

PTE. JOSEPH PHILIAS ALBERT EMERY, the son of Albert Emery and Émilie Labelle was born in Saint-André Avellin, Ripon Township, Papineau County, Québec, Canada. At 5’6″, he had a fair complexion, brown hair and grey eyes and he was a papermaker at the time of his enlistment in the 77th Canadian Battalion, Governor General’s Foot Guards.

Having later been reassigned to the 73rd Battalion Canadian Infantry, Black Watch of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he was engaged in the preparations for the advance on Vimy Ridge. He was reported missing on March 1, 1917, about a month prior to the capture of the ridge. His remains were never found and he was memorialized at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez in Pas de Calais, France.

During gas and artillery attacks planned for that day, the troops came under fire from the Germans. An excerpt from the war diary of the 73rd Battalion dated March 1, 1917 reads, “Officers and men without exception fought magnificently. Casualties during the attack were as follows: 26 OR killed, 99 OR wounded, 27 OR missing.” Pte. Emery was among those missing and was never recovered.

Gas Attacks in March 1917 at Vimy Ridge - war stories
Of many WWI war stories, this one included deadly gas attacks in March 1917 at Vimy Ridge.

A very detailed and well-researched account entitled, “. A Proper Slaughter: The March 1917 Gas Raid on Vimy Ridge“, written by Tim Cook contains some great photos and makes great reading.

Preserved WWI tunnel at Vimy Ridge - war stories
Some of the WWI war stories took part in this one of many preserved tunnels at Vimy Ridge.

Another account of the incident taken from the ‘ Canadian Battlefields ‘ website is as follows:

   “Thirty-nine days before the Canadians infamous and victorious attack on Vimy Ridge from April 9-12, 1917 there was a disastrous reconnaissance raid.   On March 1, 1917 at 3:00 am the gas sergeants took their positions to release the phosgene gas from the hundreds of gas canisters, referred to as “rats”, they had placed prior to the scheduled raid date. Every night they had lugged the heavy, poisonous gas canisters four miles to the front lines. They dug holes in the ground, nicknamed “rat traps” where the canisters were carefully placed and held in position with dirt and sandbags. A rubber hose connected to the canister would be maneuvered away from the trench, into No Man’s Land towards the enemy. The Canadians knew all too well what poisonous gas did to the human body from their experience at the Ypres Salient in 1915 when they were hit with gas for the first time.

   At 5:00 am the gas sergeants were to release the chlorine gas and 45-minutes later the 1,700 troops assigned to the raid were to go “over the top”. Of course things didn’t work out. For a gas attack, the velocity and direction of the wind is crucial. Secondly, gas is heavier then air. This meant that even if the gas sergeants managed to release the gas from the canisters and through the hose into No Man’s Land, the gas then had to travel up the hill to kill the Germans. (I shake my head at this, as I’m sure you are too). Gas is heavier than air, therefore it is logically impossible for it to flow up hill. Rather, they would find that the gas would settle in the pot-marked landscape and trenches, the very places our soldiers would seek protection from German fire. The idea was that the first gas release would kill most of the Germans. The second release, of chlorine gas, would surely finish off the Germans. 45-minutes after the chlorine gas release, a proposed sufficient amount of time for the gas to dissipate, our soldiers would walk in, finish off the few struggling Germans, collect the information they were sent for and then return. If I, a civilian, can see flaws in this plan, I cannot help but question, almost scream, “How did anyone ever let this plan go further than its first mentioning?!”
   The Germans realized a gas attack has been launched. They sounded the alarms, and released hell on No Man’s Land. A German artillery barrage and a steady pumping of rifle and machine gun fire rained down on the Canadians. The shells smashed into buried gas cylinders, causing our own trench to instantly fill with poison gas. With a tremendous rupture a wave of yellow gas plummeted from our trenches. The chlorine gas cylinders had been hit. “Making matters worse, the wind had changed direction. The release of the second wave of gas to supposedly finish off the German defenders began blowing back in the faces of the Canadian brigades.” (Barris, 2008: 13).
   In about 5 minutes we lost 190 men and two company commanders. It total, there were 687 casualties. Only 5 men actually reached the German trenches. Those that somehow managed to stay alive in No Man’s Land, were captured and spent around 21-months in a German prison camp
   On March 3 an extraordinary event took place. No Man’s Land had been eerily silent after the attack, but out of the mist a German officer carrying a Red Cross flag walked out into No Man’s Land in front of Hill 145. He called for and was met by a Canadian officer to discuss a two-hour truce ‘from 10:00 am until 12:00 noon’ during which time Canadian stretcher bearers and medical staff could carry back casualties and remains. What seemed even more remarkable [was] “the Germans said they would assist by bringing Canadian casualties halfway.”

 

PTE. JOSEPH TURMAINE, son of Herménégilde Turmaine and Virginia Perrault, was born in 1891 at Lac Mégantic, Québec, Canada. He was 5’7 1/2″ tall, had a dark complexion, blue eyes and very dark hair. He was a Private in the 27th Battalion Infantry, Winnipeg Regiment and took part in action against the Germans in Courcelette. He was reported ‘missing in action’ and was never recovered.
I have summarized the account of his Battalion’s war diary for the date he went missing below:

The 27th Battalion, Winnipeg Regiment left at 2 pm, September 14, 1916 for brigade headquarters, arriving at 5 pm. They then left brigade headquarters at 9 pm and proceeded to the front line to take up position in assembly trenches, which was delayed due to congestion of the trenches and was completed just after 4 am.

At 6:20 am, the artillery barrage opened 50 yards ahead of the German trench and the first wave started crawling over. As the barrage lifted, the Battalion advanced to the first German line and were met with heavy rifle and machine gun fire. As soon as the Canadian troops reached the trench, the Germans threw up their hands and surrendered. The Battalion followed up the barrage closely and met very little resistance at Sunken Road, the Germans surrendering in large numbers. By this time, the first wave was nearly wiped out and the second wave took their place. Owing to casualties, reinforcements were sent to hold the line at Sunken Road. The Germans attempted to advance but were driven back by Canadian fire. A large number also advanced and started sniping the Canadian front only to also be driven back by Canadian fire.

Two Canadian patrols pushed on toward Courcelette, but were forced to return to the line due to barrage fire. The German artillery fire was very intense for 48 hours on the front line.

A few troops dashed forward under cover of Canadian machine guns and captured a German Maxim. Approximately 22 Germans surrendered.

The Germans had thrown away the feed block of the captured gun but after considerable searching it was located and the gun was turned on German snipers, causing considerable damage. After the Battalion returned to the Brigade Reserve it was reported that there were 72 killed, 250 wounded and 72 missing (including Joseph Turmaine).

photo credit: Wikipedia.org

Sources:

  1. Cook, Tim (1999) ““A Proper Slaughter”: The March 1917 Gas Raid at Vimy Ridge,” Canadian Military History: Vol. 8: Iss. 2, Article 1.
    Available at: (http://scholars.wlu.ca/cmh/vol8/iss2/1).
  2. Books of Remembrance, Veterans Affairs Canada, (http://www.veterans.gc.ca/images/collections/books/bww1/ww1234.jpg).
  3. Pas de Calais, France, “XIV. F. 25.,” database, Commonwealth War Graves Commission (http://www.cwgc.org/search/cemetery_details.aspx?cemetery=64600&mode=1) .
    Attestation Papers – Archives of Canada, digital images.
  4. Certificate of Memorial; Private Joseph Phillias Albert Emery (SN: 144880), 73rd Battalion, Canadian Infantry; Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France.
  5. Casualty Form – Active Service; Private Joseph Philias Albert Emery.
  6. Form of Will; Private Joseph Philias Albert Emery.
  7. Medals, Decorations, Promotions and Transfers Record; Private Joseph Philias Albert Emery.
  8. War Service Gratuity Form; Private Joseph Philias Albert Emery.
  9. Provencher, Gérard and Blue Jeans, George, Pontbriand, B.; ” Marriages of Outaouais (Theft. I-II) 1815-1970 “, *86-87, Québec, 1971, S.G.C.F. * S.G.L. (Directory); French Title: Mariages de l’Outaouais (Vol. I-II) 1815-1970.
  10. Canadian Battlefields; Vimy Ridge: Before the Gas at Hill 145 (website: http://www.canadianbattlefields.ca/?cat=32)
  11. Les Labelles, Daniel Labelle online (www.leslabelle.org), accessed.1901 Canadian Census – St. André Avelin, Labelle District, Québec; Émerie Family: Charles, Émelie, Alice, Albert, Clarinda, Émeralda, Rose A. (Amande).
  12. Wikipedia.org
  13. Personal knowledge and interviews with family.


We must fight for our veterans as they fought for us.

We must fight for our veterans.
poppy field

Remembrance Day is fast approaching and this is one very important day I always recognize with a post on this blog.

My family’s history is well-entrenched in military service.

  • My father was in the military for 30 years.
  • My father-in-law was in the military for over 30 years.
  • My husband, Mark served 20 years.

They all served tours in hostile environments.

Our family have also lost two family members in WWI, one being Pte Philias Joseph Albert Emery during advance actions at Vimy Ridge, and the other being Pte Joseph Turmaine in the Battle of Courcelette.

I have always thought that our government was not doing enough to help veterans who are disabled as a result of their duties.

I’m appalled to say that under this present Conservative government, instead of improving, the conditions and treatment of our valued veterans are much, much worse.

Reading this post at Change.org prompted me to write about his myself and I encourage everyone to go online at the Change.org site to sign the petition demanding better financial, physical and mental health care, and administrative treatment of our veterans.

This video of a rant by Rick Mercer on behalf of our veterans is a good example of just one area of concern.

Author credit: Christine Blythe, Feathering the Empty Nest Blog

photo credit: Dukas.Ju via photopin cc