Who Can Put A Face To Charles Benjamin Murray Buxton?

July 30, 2017.  One of the names on the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph is Charles Benjamin Murray BUXTON.  This fall we plan to visit Sanctuary Wood in Belgium, the place where the Battle of Mount Sorrel was fought, and where Buxton gave his life. He has no known grave and his name is mentioned on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium.  No one is even certain of his exact date of death.  According to the war diary he was declared missing on June 2, 1916 and declared dead two days later when there was no evidence that he was still alive.

Unfortunately for Buxton, no family has come forward with a photo or any information, a poignant state of affairs for a man who gave his life and lies buried in an unknown spot.  When we go to Sanctuary Wood and Menin Gate to pay our respects, it would be nice to have a photo, to make him more real.

So here’s what we do know about Buxton’s life prior to enlistment.   He was born December 8, 1893 in Cape Traverse, the son of George Edward Buxton and Mary Jane (May) Buxton (Webster).  He had two sisters, Bertha Alice and Reta.  Buxton’s mother died in 1901 at the age of 29.  The children were then brought up by May’s sister Kate, who was married to Gordon MacFarlane of Augustine Cove.

All three children became teachers. Bertha Alice, who died in 1949, became principal of the school in Crapaud and married Ralph A.  Beairsto.  Reta later retrained to become a nurse and lived in Brooklyn, New York and died in 1997 in Toronto, at the age of 100.

In 1910, Buxton won a provincial scholarship for Prince County to attend Prince of Wales normal school, graduating two years later.  He was the teacher/principal in Cape Traverse School.  In 1915, he became a school inspector in West Prince, but later that year he enlisted in 1st University Company to reinforce the ranks of the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry.

One of Buxton’s letters to an aunt, Mrs. Minnie Marchbank of Alma, written August 3, 1915, and telling her about her son George, was published in The Guardian on August 24, 1915, and an excerpt is included here…..

Dear Aunt Minnie,

George is lying down beside me reading a paper.  I am just trying to get a few letters written.  We spent last night in a hay mow and certainly had a good sleep and this morning a good breakfast.  Your letter written July 11th arrived last night just as we were about to climb the ladder for our bed.  We are not allowed to tell where we are or what we are doing. ….. So far we have had no colds.  Fred White and the three of us bivouacked for a few days together.  He was glad to see the boys.  The war has not hurt him any as he looks well.

The outlook is not as good as it was but no matter what happens do not for a minute believe the Germans can win.  …..

With love.


Less than a year after that letter was sent, Buxton perished.  The only other mention of him came, oddly enough, in 1954, when a display of hockey photos was found at Myricks store in Alberton.  One of the photos was of the 1915 Alberton Regal Hockey Team. One of the players in the photo was C. B. Buxton!  Pieter has been on the trail of that photo, so far without success.

Can you help to put a face to Buxton?  Email us at dariadv@yahoo.ca.  Comments or stories?  You can share them by email or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

The Media Interview With CBC

pietervalkenburg with papers Sarah MacMillan CBC

Pieter among some of his research papers. (Photo credit: Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

July 28, 2017.  On July 27, 2017, CBC PEI ran a radio interview on Island Morning, where Pieter talked about the cenotaph research project and the story of Elmer Muttart.  The radio interview was accompanied by a web article, and a clip on the local news program Compass.

The transcript of the web article follows the links to each of the interviews:

CBC Radio interview: http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1011225155824

TV CBC Compass: http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1011600963888 .  The clip with Pieter starts at 11:52.

CBC Web article:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-borden-soldier-1.4223247

Transcript of web article:

‘This needs to be done’: Historian pays tribute to Borden-Carleton veterans

Pieter Valkenburg is researching and fundraising to honour the soldiers named on the Borden-Carleton cenotaph

By Cody MacKay, CBC News

A P.E.I. historian is working along with a local historical society to put together profiles and other tributes for the 48 veterans named on the Borden-Carleton cenotaph.

“I’m going to find out who these people are and give a face to every name,” Pieter Valkenburg said. “For me it’s a way to say thank you, Canada.”

Valkenburg is a historian and member of the Tryon and Area Historical Society.

He’s originally from the Netherlands and says he and his wife are taking on the project out of respect for the country he now calls home

“If it wasn’t for the Canadians, I might not have been sitting here.”

Learning the story

Valkenburg said so far, he’s found information on all but one of the men.

muttart1 Sarah MacMillan CBC.JPG

Photo: Elmer Bagnall Muttart sacrificed his life to save a Dutch village. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

“My wife has written about five or six articles — that is mainly for trying to get more information. We are also going to do presentations on them.”

Valkenburg is planning on publishing two books with all the information he’s gathered, which will be available at the Borden-Carleton Legion for visitors to read.

Of all the research Valkenburg has done, one story has struck him the most: that of Elmer Bagnall Muttart.

‘This should have been recognized a long time ago’

Binders of research Sarah MacMillan CBC.JPG

Photo: Valkenburg has binders full of research on the 48 soldiers named on the Borden-Carleton cenotaph. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

‘I think he sacrificed his life to save the village’ — Pieter Valkenburg

Muttart was a 23-year-old man from Cape Traverse, P.E.I., who Valkenburg says flew a bomber for the Canadians during World War II.

According to Valkenburg’s research, Muttart flew 21 missions and was killed on his last flight during a bombing run over Bremen, Germany.

Valkenburg said Muttart was intercepted by a German night fighter that shot the bomber to pieces, forcing the pilot to change course in his final moments away from a village down below.

“The main reason why he did that was he realized the plane was probably going to crash,” Valkenburg suggested. “But he wanted to give his crew a chance to parachute out.”

Seven British crew members were on board, according to Valkenburg, and all escaped safely while Muttart steered the burning plane away from a Dutch village, dying when the plane crashed into a field.

“I think he sacrificed his life to save the village,” he said. “He made sure his whole crew was saved.”

“This should have been recognized a long time ago.”

To recognize Muttart, Valkenburg is raising money for a memorial plaque near the location where he died. He said some funding is even being provided by the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation in the Netherlands.

‘I feel that this needs to be done’

Valkenburg plans to travel to Europe and visit the grave site of all the soldiers from the Borden cenotaph, along with Vimy Ridge and the Menin Gate Memorial in Belgium.

“I feel that this needs to be done,” he said. “It feels good for me to do it — I feel a lot of gratitude to what was done.”

If you have photos or documents you’d like to share, please email them to dariadv@yahoo.ca.  Comments or stories?  You can share them by email or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

The Elmer Bagnall Muttart Story

2004.8 Harlingen June 001

Photo: Muttart’s grave in Harlingen  (Photo courtesy of Pam Alexander collection)

July 28, 2017.  The story of WWII pilot Elmer Bagnall Muttart from Cape Traverse, who saved the Dutch village of Wons and his crew after being shot down in October 1941, touches the heart of everyone who hears about it.  For Pieter, it’s an especially relevant story, given his Dutch roots.  As he explained when this project first began, “I was born during the Hunger Year of 1944, when there was little or no food.  So many people starved to deathThe Canadians not only liberated us from Nazi rule, they saved us from starvation.

The research into this story began in October 2016. Shortly after the first article about the project appeared in the County Line Courier, Ralph Muttart brought us a posting from 2011 on Flickr photo sharing from Harlingen, written by bed and breakfast owner Richard Merkx.  There was a photo of Muttart’s grave in Harlingen, and Merkx had written: “About 5 years ago, an English gentleman and his daughter came and stayed at our bed and breakfast ‘Het Kapiteinhuis’ in Harlingen.  His surname was (Flight Sergeant) Alexander and he was the navigator on the plane piloted by Mr. Muttart.  They were shot down by a German nightfighter over Harlingen 13/10/1941.  The whole crew could bail out because the pilot stayed with the plane until the last moment, thus avoiding crashing into the village of Wons and killing many innocent people.  We took Mr. Alexander to the Harlingen Cemetery to pay his respects, an emotional moment for him as he had wondered all his life where his Pilot had been buried.  According to the many people around Pingjum (where Mr. Alexander landed by parachute) and Wons, it was a heroic act by the Pilot that saved his crew and the citizens of the village.

This was enough to get Pieter’s interest and he got in touch with Mr. Merkx, who in turn put him in touch with Pam Alexander, the daughter of the now deceased Mr. Alexander.  Then we learned that Muttart’s sister Helen was still alive, and contact was established with her as well.  We then learned of historians in The Netherlands doing research on the planes that crashed during WWII and Bauke Posthuma was kind enough to share some of his findings.  Pieter ordered a book from The Netherlands, a diary kept by schoolteacher Mr. De Boer, and published as “History of Wildinghe” in Dutch (Dutch title: ‘Van Wildinghe’s Historie’), in which he recorded the events of October 12, the night of the plane crash. It was like peeling an onion.  With each layer that unfolded in this story, it became clear that Muttart was a hero.

Next, the non-profit Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation in The Netherlands and the non-profit Tryon & Area Historical Society here on Prince Edward Island partnered to raise funds for a memorial plaque to be placed in Wons, The Netherlands in October 2018.

We hope you enjoy this very special fourth article that ran in July 2017, “The PEI Pilot Who Saved A Dutch Village” in the County Line Courier.    CLC July 19 p20 WWII Pilot Saved Dutch Village

Following the publication of this article, CBC PEI interviewed Pieter about Muttart and this project, and that’s the subject of the next blog entry.

If you have photos or documents you’d like to share, please email them to dariadv@yahoo.ca.  Comments or stories?  You can share them by email or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

The WWI Names On The Cenotaph

July 28, 2017.  With a plan to have a book and photo memorial ready for the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, Pieter wanted to publicize the names of the WW1 war dead.  While we had quite a bit of luck with the names from WWII on the Cenotaph, we weren’t so lucky with the WW1 names.

In some cases, family couldn’t be found.  Sometimes we found family only to be told they either never heard of the person.  Most of the time, the family was aware of the person, but no photo survived, let alone other documents such as letters or postcards.

So here is what we know so far….

  • Patrick Raymond ARSENAULT, born October 14, 1896 in Bedeque to Joseph Arsenault and Isabella, nee Richard. No photo.
  • Kenneth John Martin BELL, born March 28, 1896 in Cape Traverse to William Bell and Lucy, nee Rogerson. No photo.
  • Charles Benjamin BUXTON, born December 8, 1893 in Cape Traverse to George Edward Buxton and Mary Jane (May), nee Webster. No photo.
  • James Ambrose CAIRNS, born March 16, 1895 in Emerald to Terrence Cairns and Elisabeth, nee Hughes. No photo.
  • James CAIRNS, born February 22, 1897 in Kinkora to Thomas Cairns and Mary Jane, nee McDonald. No photo.
  • James Lymon CAMERON, born December 30, 1892 in Victoria to Edward H. Cameron and Susan, nee Harrington. No photo.
  • Leigh Hunt CAMERON, born May 6, 1898 in Albany to Alexander Walter Cameron and Phoebe Ann, nee Murray. No photo.
  • GG.A. Campbell blogeorge Albert CAMPBELL, born July 8, 1895 in Wellington to John George Campbell and Grace Emma, nee Barlow.

Photo: George Albert Campbell.  (Photo courtesy of Gerald Tingley collection)

  • William Galen CAMPBELL, born June 16, 1897 in Wellington to John George Campbell and Grace Emma, nee Barlow. He married Ida May McNally in 1919.  No photo.
  • Vincent CARR, born May 3, 1894 in North Tryon to Robert Carr and Catherine. He married Bessie Carr of Summerside.

1915 Photo Vincent E Carr in uniform.jpgPhoto: Vincent Carr in 1915, in the uniform of the 55th Battalion.  (Photo courtesy of Delbert Carr collection)

  • Arthur Leigh COLLETT, born December 8, 1888 in Victoria to Ella May Simmons, and was adopted by William Henry Collett and Alice M., nee Moore.Arthur Collett blogPhoto: Arthur Leigh Collett.  (Photo courtesy of Paul and Heather Moore collection)
  • Bazil CORMIER, born January 8, 1897 in Tignish to Joseph Cormier and Marie, nee Arsenault. No photo.
  • Patrick Philip DEEGAN, born November 25, 1894 in Cape Traverse to Alexander Deegan and Margaret Ann, nee Tierney. No photo.
  • Joseph Arthur DESROCHES, born August 8, 1891 in Miscouche to Zephirim Desroches and Priscilla, nee Gaudet. He married Mary Ann Wedge in 1910 and had 3 children: Elizabeth Eileen, Joseph Alfred, Lucy Priscilla, and Charles Arthur. No photo.
  • James Graham FARROW, born April 4, 1856 to Henry Farrow and Jan Gouldrup, birthplace unknown. No photo.
  • Percy Earl FARROW (FARRAR), born July 30, 1895 in North Tryon to William Farrar and Margaret Jane, nee McKinnon.
  • Percy FarrarPhoto: Percy Farrar.  (Photo courtesy of South Shore United Church collection)
  • Ellis Moyse HOOPER, born October 20, 1895 in Central Bedeque to Charles Frederick Allison Hooper and Bessie Marie, nee Moyse.

Hooper, Ellis Moyse blogPhoto: Ellis Moyse Hooper.  (Photo courtesy of Lana Churchill collection)

  • John Goodwill HOWATT, born May 8, 1894 in Cape Traverse to Edward George Howatt and Emma May, nee Wood. No photo.
  • Charles W. LOWTHER, born September 27, 1896 in North Carleton to Henry George Lowther and Bessie Cottrell, nee Wright. No photo.
  • Bruce Sutherland MCKAY, born April 15, 1897 in Albany to David McKay and Elmira (Almira), nee Harvey. No photo.
  • Arthur Clinton ROBINSON, born July 20, 1896 in Tryon to Albert James Robinson and Flora P., nee Scruton. His step-mother was Mary Mooney. No photo.
  • Harry ROBINSON, born July 9, 1881 in Augustine Cove to Thomas Robinson and Sarah, nee Campbell. He married Clara J. Wadman in 1905 and had a daughter Merilla. No photo.
  • Henry Warburton STEWART, born April 15, 1884 in Strathgartney to Robert Bruce Stewart and Ann, nee Warburton. No photo.
  • John Lymon WOOD, born July 8, 1897 in North Tryon to George William Wood and Martha, nee Heatly.
Photo Lyman Wood

Photo: John Lyman Wood shortly after enlistment in October 1915. (Photo courtesy of Gene Rogerson collection)

We hope you enjoy this third article that ran in July 2017, “Are You Related To These WWI Soldiers?” in the County Line Courier.    CLC July 5 2017 p4 Are you related to WW1 soldiers

If you have photos or documents you’d like to share, please email them to dariadv@yahoo.ca.  Comments or stories?  You can share them by email or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

Learning About The Two Names On The Vimy Memorial

Pieter Valkenburg

Photo: Borden-Carleton Branch Service Officer Pieter Valkenburg doing research (Credit: Daria Valkenburg)

July 28, 2017.  After the first article about the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph Research Project ran in October 2016, Pieter decided to focus on the WWI soldiers listed on the cenotaph, and began intensive research over the winter.

In the meantime the first article ran in the PEI Genealogical Society Newsletter and a shorter version ran in Charlottetown’s Guardian.  The Carr descendants of Vincent CARR had said that he was single, and the military attestation paper when he signed up agreed with this.  However, we found out that sometime between enlisting on June 5, 1915 and his death on October 30, 2017, he married Bessie H. Carr of Summerside.  Sadly she died a year after her husband.  Unfortunately, we have no photo of Bessie Carr, nor were we able to find a marriage record.  Can anyone help?

In his research, Pieter found two soldiers on the monument whose names are inscribed on the Vimy Memorial in France.  One was in the wrong place at the wrong time due to a name mix-up and died, the other survived the battle, only to perish a month later.  Their tales became the subject of the second article about the project.

Patrick Raymond ARSENAULT was the soldier who was transferred by error and ended up in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, died on April 11, 1917.

Plan_of_Attack_Vimy_Ridge where Arsenault died

Plan of Attack for Vimy Ridge where Patrick Raymond Arsenault died. The 2nd Canadian Brigade, part of the 1st Canadian Division, is in red. (Source: Library and Archives Canada/First World War map collection/e000000519_a4)

John Lyman WOOD survived the battle, but died on May 3, 1917 during the Battle of Arras.

Map of Battle of Arras near Fresnoy where Lymon Wood died

Battle of Arras near Fresnoy where John Lyman Wood died (Photo credit: Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919, G.W.I. Nicholson)

We have not been able to find any photo of Patrick Raymond Arsenault. Can you help?  John Lyman Wood is well cherished in the memories of his family, and his nephew Gene Rogerson provided a photo and background information to bring his story to life.

We hope you enjoy this second article that ran in April 2017, “Two Unsung Heroes Of Vimy Ridge” in the County Line Courier.   CLC Apr 5 2017 p9 Two Unsung Heroes of Vimy Ridge A shorter version of this article also ran in Charlottetown’s Guardian.

If you have photos or documents you’d like to share, please email them to dariadv@yahoo.ca.  Comments or stories?  You can share them by email or by commenting on this blog.

The Cenotaph Research Project Begins

CIMG5472 B&W Aug 5 2015 WWI and WWII memorial at Borden Carleton Legion.JPG

July 28, 2017.  The cenotaph research project began in summer 2016 quietly by enlarging a photo of the cenotaph and showing it to Islanders in the hope that someone would recognize a name.  In the meantime, Pieter started searching the surnames at the Canadian Virtual War Memorial (www.veterans.gc.ca) and Library and Archives Canada Military Service Files (http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/Pages/military-heritage.aspx) to try and identify the names.  We didn’t have first names, only surnames and an initial.

The search was made more difficult as we soon learned that many Islanders were known by their second name.  The initial on the Cenotaph sometimes referred to the second name or a nickname.  For example, Alfred became Fred and F was the initial he was identified by.

We had no luck with photos until one day Helen Carr mentioned that her husband’s uncle, Vincent CARR, was listed on the memorial.  Did we want a photo of him?  We did, and went to visit Helen’s husband Delbert.  With that photo, Pieter delved into Carr’s military records and learned that he died at Passchendaele.

We had the basis of an article to write, and decided to include someone from WWII whose photo we didn’t have.  Pieter chose Everett Samuel FRANCIS, who died off the coast of Newfoundland when the ship he was on, SS Caribou, was torpedoed.

After the article ran, Helen Carr came to the rescue once again, by finding a relative of Francis, who then was able to put us in touch with Francis’s daughter Greta, who lives in Ontario.  We learned that Francis was on his way to Newfoundland to meet his three week old baby daughter Greta for the first time when he died.  Luckily, Greta had photos of her father and shared them.

We hope you enjoy this first article that ran in October 2016, “Putting A Face And Story To The Names On The Cenotaph” in the County Line Courier.   CLC Page 6-7 Putting a Face and Story to the Names on the Cenotaph

If you have photos or documents you’d like to share, please email them to dariadv@yahoo.ca.  Comments or stories?  You can share them by email or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

Introduction to this blog

CIMG7718 Jul 13 2017 Daria and Pieter

July 27, 2017.  Welcome to this blog about the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph Research Project!  This is a labour of love, done in gratitude by Dutch-born Canadian Pieter Valkenburg, the researcher, and his wife Daria, who writes about his findings.

The project began in 2016 as a way to find out more about the 46 names on the cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, in an attempt to put a face and story to every name listed.

With a lot of hard work digging through war diaries, and reading of soldier records found at Library and Archives Canada, and the cooperation of the families of these soldiers in providing photos and letters written by them, we have been able to identify 45 of the 46 names.  Along the way, we found 2 more that were inadvertently missed.  So now the cenotaph has 48 names!

It’s been an amazing journey so far.  We are awed at the stories we’ve uncovered about the men (they are all men on this cenotaph) that gave their lives in the fight for freedom in WWI and WWII.  We’ve met many dedicated people trying to preserve histories, and we cherish the many new acquaintances we’ve made.  Thank you!

In this blog, some key findings will be shared.  Articles will be posted as they appear in news media.  And a wish list of photos and information will be an appeal for assistance from you, our readers, and fellow researchers.

The next few blogs will catch you up to the stories we’ve uncovered so far.