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Beginning on April 9, the first day of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and continuing until April 12, the last day of the battle, I will be looking at people from across Canada who fought, lived, were injured and died at the iconic battle.
Each post will feature several individuals, all of whom had an impact on the battle. We will look at their lives before, during and after the battle.
Coming to Canada to work for an American construction company to help build the Grand Fork Railway in the Prince George area of British Columbia.
Working as a logger and bridge builder, he would pass through Edmonton and learn that there was property available in the Alberta community of Warspite. He would quickly snap up a homestead and begin the life of a farmer after having travelled around the country for several years.
When the First World War began, he immediately joined up. Serving in France with the Canadian Engineers, he would earn the Military Medal for his bravery while fighting in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Surviving the battle, he would meet Peggy Armstrong, a nurse in Ireland, and they would come back to Canada to begin living the life of pioneers in Alberta.
Peggy proved invaluable to the area, serving as a midwife and helping with countless deliveries of babies in the area. She would serve as midwife from 1924 to 1969, the year that she passed away.
The couple would have four children in total.
Dan would pass away in 1954 as a result of a car accident.
Born in Indiana on Jan. 7, 1882, Clinton Young would meet his wife Matilda while he lived in Idaho. Married on April 26, 1906, they would move to Stirling in 1909 and have a daughter named Ruth. They then moved to a homestead near Golden, British Columbia. As there was no doctor in the area, Matilda would come to Stirling to deliver both of her children.
When the First World War broke out, Clinton decided to enlist. Having been an avid hunter and a skilled shot, he was made a scout and a sniper in the Canadian army. He fought through several engagements but on April 9, 1917, he was attempting to shoot a German sniper out of a tree and accidentally exposed his position. The German sniper shot and killed Young instantly. He is buried at Flanders Field.
His family continued on without him and Matilda moved to Sterling with her three children in 1916 and lived in an old teacher house. She would become Grandma Young to many young people in the area. She passed away on July 8, 1953.
Born on Dec. 26, 1899 in England, Jack Griffiths decided to come over to Canada with his family in 1913. His father and brother had filed for homesteads in 1910 and upon arrival Jack began helping the family by clearing out the homestead and picking rocks out of fields for neighbours. One field was 110 acres, and Jack and his brother cleared the entire field. In the fall, he would help with the threshing.
In January of 1916, Jack made the decision to enlist and go over and fight in the First World War. He would go overseas with the 113th Lethbridge Highlanders in August of 1916 and stay in England until he was shipped to France. As part of the 14th Canadian Machine Gun Company 2nd Division, he would see a great deal of action during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Surviving the battle, he returned to Canada in 1919 and the first thing he did was have a steak, citing he had not had a good steak in several years.
He began farming on his own quarter of land once he was home and married Hannah Beattie on Oct. 20, 1921.
The couple would work the homestead for decades afterward and were very proud of their land. They were also integral parts of the community, including participating in many public and community affairs.
Hannah would pass away on April 4, 1990, while Jack would pass away on Nov. 2, 1991. Having always wanted to return to Vimy Ridge, he would get his chance in 1988 when he returned to the battle landscape that had claimed so many lives.
Born in Scotland in 1886, Bill Smith made his way out to Canada, specifically Manitoba, in 1900 through a program that sent young boys to Canadian farms to work. Upon arriving, he stayed at the farm he worked at for three years and eventually made his way to Saskatchewan where he filed for his own homestead.
Working not only on his own farm, but many others who needed help, he spent the winter of 1910 with Frank Wright on his farm. They would walk across a cold field each day to get skimmed milk from their neighbour, and then walk the long trip back. Sometimes, there was no milk and they would have to eat their porridge without it. Sometimes when they got home, the milk was frozen solid.
In 1912, he started to build a barn near Pennant where the Memorial Park now stands.
In 1914, he enlisted and was sent overseas to fight in the First World War. Overseas, he would survive the entire war, facing many battles, including fighting in Vimy Ridge and escaping injury. He acquired many medals during this time.
He returned to Canada in 1919. In 1927, he married Ruby Boyntan and they lived at their homestead until the Second World War broke out. Bill once again enlisted.
Known for his work as a prison guard, but also for his love of singing, he was very well respected in the area. A lifelong member of the Legion, Bill passed away in February of 1982. His wife, Ruby, died a year earlier in March.
Not everyone who fought at Vimy Ridge was on the winning side, and such was the case for Adolph Menzel. Born in Germany, he would marry his wife Marie in 1916 before he was shipped off to fight in the war. Over the course of the war, he would fight in several major battles in Northern France and Russia, and also fight at Vimy Ridge and survive the battle. While he was away, he lost his first child with his wife.
After the war, two children were born in 1919 and 1922.
In 1924, the family made the decision to emigrate to Canada and they settled in the area of Annaheim, Saskatchewan.
Gertrude would be born in 1926, the first of his Canadian children but she died at only six months later. Several more children were born and the family continued to expand as the years went on including Garry in 1928, Hattie in 1930 and Kattie in 1932. All the children would go on to attend Greenside School, which was located near the family homestead.