In making this episode, I thought a lot about how I could put it together.
So much has been said about Vimy Ridge and its importance to Canada, and the growth of the legend around it, was there anything I could add to it?
We all know the story, the history and more of this momentous battle.
In the end, I decided to take a different approach. Rather than go over the tactics and history, I wanted to highlight some of the men who took part in the battle.
So, as we open Season 3 of Canada’s Great War, I present 20 Soldiers From Vimy Ridge.
Born in 1886 in Southampton, England, Guy Foster came to Canada with his father Frank and his brother Harold, at the age of 18 in 1904. Filing for a homestead next to his father in the Long Lake District, the entire family lived at the home of Frank Binnie for the first summer until they had built their house.
In 1910, his mother and youngest sister came from England to join the rest of the family at the new homestead. Guy’s two other sisters would not arrive until later.
In 1914, both Guy and Harold enlisted in the army to fight overseas in the First World War. While they were away, their father farmed five quarters of land, including theirs.
On April 9, 1917, Guy was wounded and left completely blind during the battle of Vimy Ridge. His brother Harold would be killed at Passchendaele that same year.
The pain of losing her two sons was too great for Georgina, and she died the following year.
Following the war, Guy would go back to England and enroll at the St. Dunstan’s School for the Blind. While there, he learned to type, read braille, do carpentry and build hammocks.
In 1920, he returned to Canada and to the farm. He began farming with help until he passed away in 1969.
Born on Nov. 30, 1887 at Brighton, Gerald Cooke found his way to Canada in March of 1905 just a shade under 18 years of age. Working on a farm, he was able to earn a little bit of money but soon found himself stranded without money in the winter. To fix this, he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles, which he served with for eight months. He then resigned in 1906 and travelled to England on a cattle boat to help his mother who had fallen ill. He was able to nurse her back to health over the course of four months.
Coming back to Canada in April of 1907, he began working on farms once again and even spent time working in real estate and as a financial agent.
While working as a financial agent in Blairmore, he wed Jeanette Mills in 1909. They began working a farm of 320 acres and became very active in the community.
Gerald worked as a trustee of Wild Horse School, something he had even helped to organize.
When the First World War broke out, Gerald enlisted and was sent overseas in October of 1916. He was commissioned as a lieutenant and fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Soon after, he was hit by a fever and sent back to England.
After he had recovered, he was in a trial trip on a plane as he was transferring to the Royal Flying Corps.
The plane crashed while he was flying on July 28, 1917.
Born in Staffordshire, England in 1890, George Bannister would spend his first 20 years in England before moving to Canada and working on a farm at Cornwall, Ontario. That same year, he made his way to Watrous and began working for the Grand Trunk Railway.
Buying his own farm, he went back home to visit family and brought them back with him. While he worked for Grand Trunk Railway, his family worked the farm.
When the First World War erupted, he enlisted and began serving with the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles. He went overseas and fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. During the battle, he was injured and lost his right arm.
When he returned home from the war, he was unable to work at his old job as a fireman on a steam locomotive. Thankfully, he was able to continue working with the company as a night clerk. He would remain in the job for 40 more years.
He would meet Ellen Brown and marry her in 1928.
Remaining an active member of the Legion, he was given a 50-year pin and was awarded a life membership. In 1936, he made a pilgrimage to Vimy Ridge with his wife.
George passed away in 1976, two years after his wife Ellen passed away.
Born on June 8, 1879 in Coatbridge, Scotland, John Arnott grew up as the son of a boilermaker and would himself begin to learn the trade with his brothers.
Marrying Charlotte Richardson on June 11, 1901, the couple emigrated to Canada in 1903 and settled in Toronto Junction. It was there that their sons, William and David, were born. In 1905, they left for Melfort and lived in various districts in the area including Hanover and Star City.
On April 4, 1907, John filed for a homestead in the Clashmoor School District and bought an ox team from Hanover.
Over the next several years, John and his family worked to clear the land of trees and brush and would eventually have a thriving farm. In the winter, John provided for his family by working at local sawmills where he looked after the steam engines.
On Sept. 26, 1914, John enlisted at Valcartier, Quebec in the 10th Canadian Infantry Battalion. Heading overseas, he would fight in the Battle of Passchendaele, the Somme, Ypres and Vimy Ridge. For his heroics he was presented with the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
During the Battle of Vimy Ridge, he was twice buried alive and gassed during the battle. After being sent away from the front lines, he was found unfit for active service and was sent to Regina to work as a recruiting officer.
Once the war was over, he was sent to Prince Albert where he became the Quartermaster. On Feb. 28, 1919, he received and Honourable Discharge and left the army with the rank of Company Quartermaster Sergeant.
John would continue to farm the land for several more decades before retiring from the farm in the early-1950s and moving into New Osgoode. In the community, they would garden and take part in many activities. Charlotte would pass away on Aug. 25, 1960, while John passed away on May 21, 1964.
Born in 1889, Harold Dugard attended the Manitoba Agricultural College and wanting to learn more, he went on to attend the Winnipeg Business School.
Working for George Scruton at his store, he did well enough to buy himself a car. He sent a telegram to his parents to tell them he was going to see them. Due to the fact that roads were dirt at the time, it took him a day to drive the distance over the horrible terrain.
He would then teach his eight-year-old brother to drive the car, before he decided the time was right to enlist with the Eighth Battalion and fight in the First World War.
In April of 1917, he took part in the Battle of Vimy Ridge and was severely wounded. Shrapnel from an explosion had embedded itself in his lower spine. He had to go through repeated surgeries but doctors were successful in removing the shrapnel that had sliced the vertebrae. After many more months of rehabilitation, he would return to Canada and get into the lumber and hardware business. In 1920, he married Nettie Laurie.
In 1923, his store burned to the ground so he built a larger store and yard and was eventually bought out by the North American Lumber Company.
Harold had a love for his community and would eventually serve as mayor in the 1920s, helping to get sidewalks built in the community. In 1929, he bought up a piece o land south of town along the river and turned it into a park. He was able to employ many people at the park through the Great Depression. Dugard Camping Grounds would operate until 1968 before it was bought by the Canadian Association for the Mentally Retarded and renamed Sherwood Forest Camp.
In 1936, Nettie passed away. He would marry Majorie Barclay in 1943 and have six children.
He passed away in 1972.
Percy Harold Neal
Born on July 16, 1892, Percy Neal arrived with his family to Canada in 1907 and settled in the Raymond, Alberta area. One year later, the family moved to a new homestead east of Milk River and, along with his brothers, he worked to prove up the homestead. Percy also worked in the community to bring in money for the family.
Known as an excellent athlete, Percy was always active in local sports and even played for the local Raymond football team.
In 1916, he made the decision to enlist with the 113th Highlanders and was soon sent overseas. Upon arriving, he was transferred to the 43rd Cameron Highlanders and shipped off to France to begin stringing telegraph wire on the front lines. He also put down barb-wire entanglements and went on night-patrols in No Man’s Land.
Throughout the Battle of Vimy Ridge, he was part of the big push against the Germans but a shell fell near him and exploded, burying him in a trench. Alive but trapped, it would be several hours before he was rescued.
Sent back to England to recuperate, he would be discharged from the hospital three months later and returned to active duty as a member of the medical corps in England. After eight months, he would return back to Canada. In June of 1918, he received an honourable discharge.
Coming back to southern Alberta, he worked building grain elevators and roads. In 1921, he took over the homestead and bought a section of land through the Soldiers Settlement Board to add to his land. He would marry Greta Gross in 1921.
In 1957, Percy moved off the farm and into a residence in Milk River. He would remain there until he passed away in 1974.
Born in Liverpool, England, George Hayes was put into a foster home as a child in Quebec where he remained until 1911 when he ran away to live with the nephews of his foster parents. Living in the Outlook area, he would work for various farmers in the summer and help out Art and Joe Frizzel in the winter at the farm.
When war broke out, he enlisted immediately and was sent overseas. Before long, he found himself on the front lines.
When the Battle of Vimy Ridge began, George saw action and was wounded in the battle. Sent to a hospital in England, he would meet Gladys Holburn. They would be married on Dec. 26, 1919 and soon after they sailed to Canada to make their life in Ontario. The family would have six daughters eventually.
In 1920, George made his way back to Dinsmore, while his family went to England to wait for him to homestead. On Dec. 13, 1925, his wife and daughter came from England and joined George.
For the next decade-and-a-half, the family grew and George continued to farm.
When the Second World War broke out, George once again enlisted and served with the Royal Canadian Air Force in various parts of Canada and Newfoundland.
Gladys would pass away in 1952.
George would be felled by a stroke at the age of 81 and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Born in England in 1897, James Hunt would travel west to Canada in 1914, following his brother who had come to Canada the year earlier. Arriving in March, and thinly dressed, he rode in an open sleigh to his brother’s homestead and survived the journey despite being a bit cold at the end of it.
Helping his brother clear out a quarter section, he would eventually enlist in the army in 1917. Enlisting in Regina, he was sent overseas and soon found himself fighting on the front lines and taking part in Vimy Ridge.
Severely injured in the leg during the battle, he spent a year in the hospital recovering. He would be officially discharged in 1920 and would return to Blucher, Saskatchewan where he started farming just north of his brother.
In December of 1923, he married Leona Lang. They would have two children together.
In 1935, the family lost everything when their home burned down but they rebounded and rebuilt their lives. James would eventually take on a job as a caretaker at various schools in Saskatoon.
Born in Scotland in January of 1892, James Bisset came over to Readlyn prior to the First World War. For several years, he would work for local farmers and learn the trade.
When the First World War erupted, James enlisted with Oscar Hewitt and soon found himself in Surrey, England.
After a short time, he was sent to the front lines and would fight in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. During the battle, he would be severely wounded by shrapnel in his left arm.
Sent back to Canada, he was in a hospital in Regina as he healed. For several years afterward, he would return to the hospital to receive treatment for his wounds. It was not until years later that doctors would finally remove a large piece of shrapnel that was still in his arm.
In 1918, using the Soldier Settlement Board’s loan of $900, he purchased a farm and began homesteading. In 1922, he would marry Ella Dulien and the couple started a family.
The family would continue farming for several years. In 1951, Ella passed away and James sold the farm.
He then moved to Assiniboia and would pass away in 1971.
Born in England on Sept. 3, 1883, James Graham would make his way to Canada aboard the S.S. Arabic with his brother Jack on March 29, 1913. Travelling with 167 other passengers, he described the trip as being ‘just like a lot of poultry at a show, one above another in pens.” On April 7, 1913, he saw Halifax Harbour and his new life in Canada would begin.
Living in Oakville, Ontario until 1914, Graham made his way out to Wilkie to work on the farm of James Muldoon. In 1915, he enlisted with the 65th Infantry Battalion out of Saskatoon. In 1916, he was transferred to the 46th Battalion and found himself at some of the biggest battles of the war. He would fight in the Battles of Passchendale, Ypres, Somme and Vimy Ridge. In his unit, 91.5 per cent of the 5,374 who served ended up as casualties. For his part, Graham was wounded three times and was awarded the Military Medal in 1917.
During his time overseas, he would meet and marry Janet Mather out of England. They would both return to Canada in 1919 and make their home in Oakville, where their daughter Dorothy was born but sadly died in infancy.
James began working with the CPR as a car man in 1920 and the couple would have two sons, William and James Jr.
A lifelong member of the IOOF and the Royal Canadian Legion, he retired from the CPR in 1948 and began working at the local post office. His wife would pass away in 1967, and James would die in 1970.
Born on Nov. 23, 1888 in Paisley, Ontario, David Mooney moved out to Dryden, Ontario with his family in 1900. Seven years later, he moved further west to the Imperial district in Saskatchewan. Two years later in 1909, he was homesteading his own land.
A lover of football and hockey, he could be found playing either sport whenever he had a free moment while farming.
In April of 1916, he enlisted and was sent over to the front lines. He would find himself at the Battle of Vimy Ridge and was wounded in the arm on April 9.
While gone, his brothers farmed his land for him and put the money into the bank.
After returning back to Canada following his injury, he married Norma Austin and they would have five children together.
David continued to farm for many years and remained on his farm until 1944 when he passed away. Norma moved into Imperial in 1950 and passed away in 1954.
Born in England on June 3, 1881, William Lake completed his schooling until the eighth grade. At that point, he began working as a coal miner and in 1899 he enlisted with the army and fought in the Boer War from 1899 to 1902.
In 1904, he came over to Canada with his brothers and settled in the Asquith, Saskatchewan area. In 1914, he enlisted with the Fifth Canadian Mounted Rifles and was sent overseas. Serving with distinction, he would become a lieutenant. In 1917, he fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Wounded during the battle, he would be removed from his services in the forces because of his injuries on Nov. 16, 1918.
During the time he was in the army, he would meet Ada Peacock and they would marry on Aug. 20, 1918. They both came to Canada on Oct. 16, 1918 and he began farming on the land owned by his family.
From 1932 to 1963, he served as a councillor for the RM of Eagle Creek and from 1939 to 1945, he was a recruiting officer for the armed forces during the Second World War.
In the early-1950s, he retired but was tragically killed by an accident on Oct. 10, 1965.
Born in England on May 28, 1890, he emigrated with this family in 1903 to Canada and settled in the Boissevain, Manitoba area. He would eventually move to the Handsworth district in Saskatchewan to begin farming.
When the First World War broke out in 1914, Hubert wanted to enlist but he was unable to be accepted because he was farming on his own. One year later though, he was accepted and joined the Strathcona Horse Regiment. Stationed in Manitoba, he would eventually be transferred over to England and then France.
In France, one of his jobs was to dig underground tunnels through chalk deposits. When the Battle of Vimy Ridge erupted, he and his brother Archie went over the top. Hubert was badly wounded when he was gassed during the battle and had to stay in a hospital for some time in France. Spending a week with his eyes covered, he did not know if he would ever see again. Thankfully, his eyesight returned and by May of 1917 he was on his way back to Canada. The ship he sailed back home on was torpedoed on its way back to England, sinking with all hands lost.
Hubert would go back to farming when he returned from the war. He would eventually move to Regina and start working for a draying company. In 1919, he met and married Jane Anne and they moved back to his farm. The couple would have two daughters.
In 1934, Hubert and Jeanne moved to Nipawin to start farming there.
In the 1940s, Hubert and Jeanne moved to Ontario where Hubert worked in a munitions factory. They then moved to Victoria where Hubert worked in construction. The couple continued to farm each spring on their farm near Regina.
Jeannie passed away on Sept. 28, 1967.
Hubert passed away in the 1970s.
Working as editor of the Colgate newspaper, called the Colgate Enterprise, he published his last issue of the paper on May 11, 1916.
In his final issue, he stated that he was deciding to answer the call to arms and was enlisting to fight in the First World War.
Shipping over after enlisting in May of 1916, he would find himself at Vimy Ridge. Sadly, he would be killed in the battle on April 9, 1917.
On April 17, 1919 at an Oddfellows Banquet, of which Orion had been a member, his sacrifice was honoured and tribute was given to him. Several members of the community, including Private Garner who had recently enlisted, toasted him and his choice to fight for King and Country.
Born on Oct. 14, 1880 in Belgium, Houbregs spent the better part of his younger years working at a coal mine before moving to Canada in 1911 and settling in Blairemore where he began to look for work. Working in the mines near the community, his wife and four children would join him in 1912.
When the First World War erupted, Louis joined up and enlisted with the Canadian 192nd Battalion. Assigned to the First Canadian Tunnelling Company on March 1, 1917, he most likely got the assignment because he had experience in mines.
His company not only participated in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, but also several other offensives, including the taking of Messines Ridge on June 17, 1917.
His company was disbanded on July 11, 1918 and he was assigned to the Seventh Battalion Canadian Engineers. He would build bridges and roads with the Battalion before he was demobilized on Feb. 20, 1919.
He then returned to Blairmore.
Louis would continue working in mines for many years and over time would have 20 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren. His wife would die on Nov. 11, 1936, while Louis passed away 40 years later on Dec. 2, 1976.
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.
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