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. …..
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.
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© Daria Valkenburg