The WW1 Soldiers Who Never Left Canada

April 29, 2019.  Pieter Valkenburg, who is researching the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, has discovered that out of the 24 soldiers from WW1 listed on the Cenotaph, two never left Canada:  Leigh Hunt CAMERON and Harry ROBINSON, both of them from the 105th Battalion, C Company.

Leigh Hunt Cameron, born May 6, 1898 in Albany, was the son of Alexander Walter Cameron and Phoebe Ann Murray.  A farmer before being officially enlisted on March 2, 1916, Leigh Hunt contracted measles and passed away at the age of 18 at the Military Hospital in Charlottetown on May 5, 1916.

An obituary in the May 10, 1916 edition of the Summerside Journal noted that “A few weeks ago he took measles and was getting better when complications set in. Pneumonia and a weakened heart finally caused his death. With full military honours the body was conveyed to the 2:20 train Saturday afternoon, the Summerside band leading the cortege, and was sent to Albany. The funeral took place Sunday afternoon from the home of Mr. William Cameron, an uncle with whom Private Cameron had lived.”  He’s buried at the Free Church of Scotland cemetery in Cape Traverse.


Grave of Leigh Hunt Cameron at Free Church of Scotland cemetery in Cape Traverse. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Harry Robinson was born July 9, 1881 in Augustine Cove, the son of Thomas Robinson and Sarah Campbell.  One of the few soldiers listed on the Cenotaph who had been married, Harry was a widower.  He’d lost his daughter Merilla in 1911, and his wife Clara Wadman in 1912.  A carpenter before his official enlistment on April 28, 1916, Harry was sent to Valcartier, Quebec for training, where he unfortunately contracted blood poisoning from a cellulitis infection.

An obituary in the July 1, 1916 Agriculturalist explained that “The body arrived by the Northumberland on Thursday evening, accompanied by Pte. John Howatt. The deceased became ill last Saturday and died on Tuesday morning. The case is a particularly sad one as the deceased was the only support of a widowed mother, Mrs. Thos. Robinson, of Augustine Cove. He was a widower, without children, and was about thirty-five years old.”  Pte Howatt was John Goodwill Howatt, also of Augustine Cove, whose story was told in an earlier blog posting.  (See The Archive Photo That Put A Face To A Name)Harry is buried in the Tryon People’s Cemetery in Tryon.

Grave of Harry Robinson and family cairn at Tryon People’s cemetery in Tryon.  (Photo credits: Pieter Valkenburg)

Unfortunately, Pieter has not been able to find photos of either of these two men.  If you have information or photos to share on Leigh Hunt Cameron or Harry Robinson, please send an email to or comment on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg


The WW1 Soldier Who Never Made It To The Front

April 22, 2019.  In researching the stories behind the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, Pieter sometimes discovers that the soldier lost his life BEFORE ever getting a chance to make it into battle.  This is what happened to Private Bruce Sutherland MCKAY (MACKAY) of Albany, the son of David McKay and Almira (Elmira) Harvey.  Born April 16, 1897, according to his attestation papers, Bruce Sutherland, a farmer, enlisted with the 1st Depot Battalion, Nova Scotia Regiment, on March 21, 1918.

Bruce Sutherland McKay 1895-1918 photo from Roma McKay

Bruce Sutherland McKay. (Photo courtesy of Roma McKay collection)

On April 17, 1918 he left Halifax for England, aboard the S.S. Scotian, and arrived in Liverpool, England on April 28, 1918.  That same day, he was transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion of the Canadian Infantry.  Unfortunately, he must have gotten ill during the voyage as the next day he was admitted to the Military Isolation Hospital in Aldershot, with a diagnosis of scarlet fever.

Things went from bad to worse for this poor soldier.  While in hospital he developed measles, pleurisy, and bronchial pneumonia.  It was too much for his system and he died in hospital on May 22, 1918.

In most cases, this would be nearly the end of the story.  However, Mrs McKay must have written a letter to the hospital, asking for details on what happened to her son. A letter received from his nurse, Ada Jones, was published in The Pioneer on August 10, 1918:

“Dear Mrs. McKay:

Your letter has been passed on to me, as I was in charge of the ward your poor son died in. First, let me express my deepest sympathy in your great sorrow; it must have been a great shock to you, and there are the times when one seems not able to turn to anyone for comfort or help to bear the burden, unless we know and can turn to Our Father above, and we know He understands and He loves. Now I will try to tell you just what I can. How I wish I could just do something to help your lonely heart.

Your poor boy came in here on the 29th April with scarlet fever. I don’t know if he was very strong at home, but we know camp life is not like home, so this may have weakened his chest, for he developed pneumonia and this eventually took him away from us on the 22nd May at two in the afternoon. I can assure you he was very good and patient. It was a pleasure to do anything for him. At first he was a bit reserved, but later used to speak of the farm he was coming back to. When the days were warm and fine he was carried outside in his bed and would say how some parts reminded him of home, and always spoke very tenderly of his dear mother.

The last three days were the worst he had for pain. The morning he went he often asked if we could help. I tried to tell him how there was One above who could. He said he knew his dear mother prayed for him. At one o’clock he said he felt much better. God was helping him through and was quite conscious till about ten minutes before the end, which was one of the most peaceful ends I have seen, so rest assured, dear mother, your dear son is with Jesus and is looking forward to meeting you there one day.

He was buried in a lovely spot just close to the Military Cemetery with full military honours, where there are a good many others who have sacrificed their lives in this terrible war.

It could not have been possible to have brought him home, for being infectious they would not be allowed to take him on a ship, and I am sure the memory of him in health would be far happier to you than when grim death had come on. Now I do hope this may be a little comfort to you. I just wish I could do something more. May our Father in Heaven put His loving arms around you and comfort and keep you.

Believe me yours very sincerely,

Ada Jones

The cemetery mentioned in Nurse Ada Jones’ letter is the Aldershot Military Cemetery in Hampshire, England.  Graham and Jacqueline Hocking, who live near the cemetery, were kind enough to visit the grave and send photos.  Graham noted that the gravestone inscription lists Bruce Sutherland as MacKay not McKay.

Aldershot Military Cemetery Chapel

Chapel at Aldershot Military Cemetery. (Photo credit: Graham Hocking)


Graham Hocking by the grave of Bruce Sutherland McKay. (Photo credit: Jacqueline Hocking)

Our thanks to Roma McKay for providing a photo of Bruce Sutherland, and to Graham and Jacqueline Hocking for visiting the cemetery and taking photos.  If you have information or photos to share on Bruce Sutherland McKay, please send an email to or comment on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

Funds From Muttart Memorial Fund Transferred To The Netherlands

April 9, 2019.  Many of you have been following the story of WWII pilot Elmer Bagnall MUTTART, who lost his life on October 12, 1941 when his plane was shot down by a German nightfighter, and crashed in a field right outside the village of Wons in The Netherlands.  Before the crash, Elmer was able to ensure that his crew bailed out and he managed to steer the burning plane past the village.  (See The Elmer Bagnall Muttart Story and On the War Memorial Trail ….. At Harlingen General Cemetery and On the War Memorial Trail ….. At The Politiek Farm In Wons)

Over the past 1 ½ years a fundraising project in conjunction with the Tryon and Area Historical Society here in Canada, and the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation in The Netherlands, has been raising funds towards a memorial panel near the crash site in Wons to honour Elmer Muttart and his crew.

Last month the Tryon and Area Historical Society transferred the donations made in Canada towards this memorial panel to the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation, who will organize and coordinate the memorial panel installation and ceremony, planned for October 12, 2019.  Thank you to all who donated so generously to this worthwhile project, and a big thank you to the Tryon and Area Historical Society for their involvement and support.

While the Canadian fundraising project is closed, anyone who wishes can still donate directly to the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation in The Netherlands.  How to donate: Bank transfers may be made to Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation, Bank Account # (IBAN) NL35ABNA0569579856, and state in the subject line “Attn D.S. Drijver for Halifax L9561”.

If you had indicated to us that you were interested in attending this event in Europe, please note that your name and contact email was provided to the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation.  They will send you the invitation and program, and be able to answer any relevant questions.  We ourselves are on the waiting list for the invitation and program and plan to attend the event.

If you have information or photos to share on the names on the Cenotaph, or if you have a memory of Elmer Muttart to share, please send an email to or comment on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg