The WW1 Soldier From Barton Whose Body Was Never Recovered

July 31, 2022. Most of the time Pieter is involved in a search for photos and family of WW1 or WW2 soldiers, a task that requires a great deal of research and luck.  Sometimes, however, the opposite happens, and he’s asked to find family and a soldier for a photo that has been ‘orphaned’ for one reason or another.

For a veteran, it can be difficult to ignore a photo that has been discarded or placed for sale in an auction or secondhand shop.  That’s exactly what happened when veteran Mario Henry, Sgt At Arms at the Borden-Carleton Legion, visited a pre-auction preview recently and spotted a photo of what looked to be a WW1 soldier.

….Photo of a WW1 soldier placed for auction…

improved_photo(4) shortliff

Photo of WW1 soldier Lloyd Shortliff.  (Photo credit and restoration: Pieter Valkenburg)

It was in an antique frame and was most likely a black and white photo that had been colourized with watercolour and framed, suggesting that at one time this was a treasured piece in someone’s home.

….The back of the photo identified the soldier and his family….

CIMG5692 Jun 28 2022 back of Shortliff photo

Back of photo with identifying information.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

A quick glance at the back of the photo had identifying information, which helped to uncover a soldier’s military service.  The information on the back stated: “Lloyd Shortliff, son of Emma (Dunbar) Shortliffe and Charles Shortliffe. Sisters Minerva and Gertrude (Mrs Joseph Foster).  He was missing in action September 17, 1916 in France.

….Who was Lloyd Shortliff?….

Mario contacted Pieter, who soon determined that the photo was of Lloyd Clifford SHORTLIFF, born April 12, 1891 in Barton, Digby, Nova Scotia, son of Charles Henry and Emma (nee Dunbar) Shortliff.

A farmer before enlisting in Sussex, New Brunswick on September 20, 1915 with the 64th Battalion, Lloyd left Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the SS Adriatic on March 31, 1916, arriving in Liverpool, England on April 9, 1916.

On June 24, 1916 he was transferred to the 12th Battalion and sent to Shornecliffe Army Camp for further training. (See https://www.saltwoodkent.co.uk/the-canadian-at-shorncliffe-during-)

…Lloyd was sent to the front…..

Screenshot 2022-07-04 at 10-28-48 Vierstraat · Ypres Belgium

Blue line shows the route taken by the 24th Regiment as they moved from the Ypres area in Belgium towards France for the Battle of the Somme. (Map source: http://www.google.ca)

A few days later, on June 28, 1916, he was transferred to the 24th Battalion (Victoria Rifles of Canada) and sent to Belgium on July 12, 1916. The Regiment was part of the Canadian Corps manning the Western Front.

On August 28, 1916 the Regiment marched to Eperlecques, France for training on the new Lee-Enfield rifles, where they also trained in manoeuvres in preparation for what the troops would experience in the Battle of the Somme. (See map at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_the_Battle_of_the_Somme,_1916.svg)

On September 4, 1916, the Regiment went to Argues, France, and took a train to Conteville, before moving on towards Hérissart, and then to Albert, France, where the Regiment arrived on September 10, 1916 and were set up in tents.

The Somme front was near the village of Courcelette. Training began for an attack on the Sugar Refinery near Courcelette, which began on September 15, 1916.  By the next day, Battalion Headquarters was set up in a trench by the Sugar Refinery, in preparation for further attacks against the Germans. (See https://www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/history/battles-and-fighting/land-battles/courcelette/)

Lloyd lost his life on September 17, 1916.  Unfortunately his body was never recovered and he is listed on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.

….Could the photo be saved?….

Knowing that Lloyd Shortliff was listed on the Vimy Memorial was like waving a red flag at a bull for veterans Pieter and Mario.  Pieter has a special affinity for Vimy after we’d been there in 2017 to honour two soldiers from the Island that Pieter had researched.  (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2017/09/19/visiting-the-canadian-national-vimy-memorial/)

The photo couldn’t be resigned to the dustbin of history!  The value was in the antique frame, not the photo, and both men believed someone would buy the frame and discard the photo.

Mario contacted the auctioneer and asked if the seller would pull the picture out of the auction, pending further investigation.  The seller refused.

That seemed to be that ….. until Mario contacted Pieter to say that he had attended the auction and bought the picture.  Pieter went back to his research, to learn how Lloyd lost his life and to find his family.

CIMG5689 Jun 28 2022 Pieter and Mario with photo

Pieter (left) and Mario Henry (right) with the picture of WW1 soldier Lloyd Shortliff. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

….How did Lloyd Shortliff lose his life?…

Pieter wanted to know how Lloyd lost his life and why he was listed on the Vimy Memorial, since he didn’t die during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which was in April 1917.

According to the war diary for the 24th Battalion for September 17, 1916, “… at 12:30 pm, orders were received from the Brigade that the Battalion, less one Company, were to attack the German front line, with our Right resting on the Baupame Road, and our Left with the 22nd Battalion in the vicinity of the Quarries.  The attack commenced at 5 pm…..

The soldiers  of ‘D’ Company, on the extreme right, “…were unable to reach their objective, many of them killed before they got over the parapet, and the men who did advance were held up in the German wire and shot down…

‘A’ Company was in the centre, and “…obtained their objective, but after severe fighting, the enemy bombed them out, working through from his main line…

By the time the fight was over, 9 officers and 330 other ranks of the 24th Battalion were dead, wounded, or missing and presumed dead, among them Lloyd Shortliff.  As his body was never recovered it appears he was among the soldiers who were bombed.

24th battalion WW1 112

Map of the Battle of Courcelette on September 17, 1916. Red arrow shows the Sugar Refinery where Lloyd Shortliff went missing.  (Map source: The 24th Battalion, C.E.F., Victoria Rifles of Canada, 1914-1919)

…Pieter found the family of Lloyd Shortliff….

Pieter’s research next focused on Lloyd’s descendants, and led to family member Trent Whittaker, whose grandmother was Gertrude Foster, Lloyd’s sister.  After explaining about the picture that Mario had rescued, he was surprised to learn that it was Trent who had put the photo in a garage sale as part of the clear out of a 200 plus year old farmhouse.  The family had a photo of Lloyd and the one put in the garage sale was a duplicate. Several ‘pickers’ had bought the goods and that was the last he saw of the picture.

This is a story many will find familiar.  Relatives die and families are left with an accumulation of ‘stuff’ that can become overwhelming.  In the purge, photos, letters, diaries, and other memorabilia can get discarded.

…. Lloyd is remembered on the Barton War Memorial…

IMG_5558R Jul 8 2022 Barton War Memorial

Barton War Memorial.  (Photo credit: Sandra Lent)

Lloyd Shortliff was bombed to smithereens in France, his remains never recovered, but he is listed on the Vimy Memorial in France, and Pieter discovered that he is also listed on the war memorial in Barton, Nova Scotia:  https://nshdpi.ca/is/digbyco/bartonwarm.html.  The Legion in Weymouth, Nova Scotia has expressed an interest in the picture after learning of its existence.

IMG_5566R Jul 8 2022 Barton War Memorial

Lloyd Shortliff is remembered on the Barton War Memorial. (Photo credit: Sandra Lent)

Sandra Lent of the Weymouth Legion visited the memorial and explained that it was “…located in Barton, at the head of a cemetery.  There are no other markings, such as the name of the cemetery, although it is well tended, and the pillar shaped monument is helpful for identification.  It is located a short distance north of the Barton post office, on the same side of the highway...

Thank you to Mario Henry for saving the photo which gave us a chance to tell Lloyd Shortliff’s story.  Thank you as well to Sandra Lent for taking the photos of the Barton War Memorial.  If you have a story to tell, please let Pieter know. You can email him at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.

….. More stories of ‘orphan’ soldier photos and artifacts …

…Want to follow our research?….

If you are reading this posting, but aren’t following the blog, you are welcome to do so.  See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/ or email me at dariadv@yahoo.ca and ask for an invitation to the blog.

Front cover OnTheWarMememorialTrailinEuropeDaria’s book ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten‘ is available in print and e-book formats.  For more information see https://nosoldierforgotten.com/

Upcoming Author Talk: Thursday, August 11, 2022 – Victoria-By-The-Sea, Prince Edward Island, part of the ‘Our Island Talks’ series, and hosted by Victoria Playhouse and Victoria Historical Association. Time: 2:00 pm.

You are also invited to subscribe to our YouTube Channel: On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ591TyjSheOR-Cb_Gs_5Kw.

© Daria Valkenburg

Update And More Feedback On ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten’

July 28, 2022. We very much appreciate the feedback from ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten.  We love seeing the photos that you send, and where possible, having the opportunity to meet you.

…Legal deposit of book to Library and Archives Canada made in person…

To fulfill the Legal Deposit requirements, we personally delivered a copy of the book at the Library and Archives Canada facility in Gatineau, Quebec.  Gatineau is near Ottawa, Ontario, where we were in May. Delivering the book in person gave us a chance to revisit places we hadn’t seen since we moved from Ottawa to Prince Edward Island.

Exif_JPEG_420

Mélanie Legault (left) accepts book from Daria on behalf of Library and Archives Canada Legal Deposit.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

…Some additional feedback we’ve received….

IMG_7043 Phillip Shovk with book

Phillip Shovk with his copy of the book.  (Photo courtesy of P. Shovk)

Phillip Shovk wrote us to say I’ve finally finished your book and I must say that I enjoyed it very much! I like the way it touched on many themes – the courage of the soldiers, the tragedy and futility of war, the respect that the liberated show to the liberators and, of course, the respect that you’ve shown to these young men and the pride you must feel for them as your compatriots! It also reads as a travelogue which makes it lots of fun – maps, getting around, different cultures and of course food! So well done and best wishes to you both …

Marie Sever wrote us that: “…I am enjoying reading your book.  You and Pieter certainly had some adventures and incidents on the way.  I particularly love the ‘Fresh’ eggs incident.  I would have been confused too.  I love the flags you put on the graves you found.  A thoughtful gesture and touching for other visitors passing by or looking for that particular grave.  The photos are wonderful….

20220616_125028 Jun 16 2022 Glynne Squires with book

Glynne Squires with her book.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

….An interview in the North Bay Nugget….

CIMG5589 May 19 2022 PJ Wilson and Pieter at North Bay Public Library

PJ Wilson (left) with Pieter at the North Bay Public Library in North Bay, Ontario.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

When we were in North Bay, Ontario, we were interviewed by Peter J. Wilson of the North Bay Nugget, about Pieter’s research into soldiers buried in The Netherlands.  The article Couple devoted to telling fallen soldiers’ stories | North Bay Nugget ran in the online version on May 19, 2022 and in the print version on May 20, 2022.  See https://www.nugget.ca/news/couple-devoted-to-telling-fallen-soldiers-stories

Thank you to Marie Sever, Phillip Shovk, and Glynne Squires for taking the time to send in comments and photos about the book. Photos or information to share? Email Pieter at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.

…..Upcoming Author Talk….

CIMG5728 Jul 27 2022 Photo op at Victoria Playhouse Daria

Daria outside the Victoria Playhouse where she will give an Author Talk on August 11, 2022. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

  • Thursday, August 11, 2022 – Victoria-By-The-Sea, Prince Edward Island, part of the ‘Our Island Talks’ series, and hosted by Victoria Playhouse and Victoria Historical Association. Time: 2:00 pm.

…Want to follow our research?….

If you are reading this posting, but aren’t following the blog, you are welcome to do so.  See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/ or email me at dariadv@yahoo.ca and ask for an invitation to the blog.

Front cover OnTheWarMememorialTrailinEuropeDaria’s book ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten‘ is now available in print and e-book formats.  For more information see https://nosoldierforgotten.com/

You are also invited to subscribe to our YouTube Channel: On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ591TyjSheOR-Cb_Gs_5Kw.

© Daria Valkenburg

On The War Memorial Trail….. The WW2 Stretcher-Bearer Whose Compassion Cost Him His Life

July 27, 2022. Before we travelled to North Bay, Ontario in May for an Author Talk at the North Bay Public Library, Pieter and Don Coutts prepared a letter to the editor for the local newspapers to see if photos could be found for two North Bay soldiers buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands: Albert Joseph COTE and John ‘Jack’ Langford WALKER.

The letter ran in the North Bay Nugget on April 19, 2022, and resulted in family of Jack Walker submitting a photo.  No family of Albert Joseph Cote came forward, but we soon uncovered enough information and references in other sources to determine that his story needed to be told.

Apr 19 2022 Letter to Editor North Bay Nugget

The letter to the editor incorrectly lists Flora’s maiden name as Larose.  It was McGinnis.  When she remarried, her surname changed from Cote to Larose.

Photo AJ Cote North Bay Nugget Oct 3 1944

Albert Joseph Cote. (Photo source: October 3, 1944 edition of North Bay Nugget newspaper)

Albert Joseph COTE was born in Quebec on July 12, 1920, the son of Augustin and Flora (nee McGinnis) Cote. His father died in 1922 in Hull (now Gatineau), Quebec and his mother remarried to Xavier Larose.  When Albert was 5 years old the family moved to North Bay.

…Albert was an active participant at the North Bay Vocational School…

Albert attended the North Bay Collegiate Institute and Vocational School (in 1958 the name changed to North Bay Algonquin Composite School) in North Bay.  Judie Klassen contacted archivist Edward Drieger of the Harris Library at the University of Nipissing, who wrote that Albert was “a member of Form II B Vocational with Mr. K.E. Thomson in 1938.  It also appears that Albert was a member of the Junior Literary Society and a Form representative to the Northland Echo Staff….”  He also sent her two photos that included Albert.

Albert Cote yearbook 1 p39

Photo from the 1938 Algonquin Composite School yearbook. (Source: Harris Library at the University of Nipissing)

Albert Cote yearbook 2 Northland Echo

Photo from the 1938 Algonquin Composite School yearbook. (Source: Harris Library at the University of Nipissing)

…Albert enlisted shortly after his 20th birthday…

Before he enlisted on July 27, 1940 with ‘B’ Company of The Algonquin Regiment, Albert worked as a messenger boy for a newspaper, a call boy for the Canadian Pacific Railway, and as a clerk in Ligget’s Drugstore.  According to his service record he spoke French as well as English.

His Personnel Selection Record with the Canadian Army noted that he “… takes part in most sports…” and …reads anything – mostly fiction….”  The report also stated that he was taking the “…Legion course – music group ‘C’…” and it was recommended that he “…continue as present bandsman…”  Unfortunately, no mention was made of which instrument he played!

…Albert and his Regiment served in Newfoundland…

NFLD Map shows Botwood

Location of Botwood Military Base in Newfoundland. (Map source: http://postalhistorycorner.blogspot.com/2012/12/wwii-canadian-forces-in-newfoundland.html)

Albert went to Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay), Ontario for training, and then was sent to Botwood, Newfoundland in July 1942.  Why Botwood? An RCAF base in Botwood had aircraft patrolling the east coast of the Atlantic. Canadian Army personnel, including members of The Algonquin Regiment, based at Botwood were charged with protection of military facilities that had been installed there. (See https://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/politics/botwood-base.php)

… Albert and his Regiment were sent to Normandy, France…

In January 1943 he left Newfoundland for #2 Transit Camp in Debert, Nova Scotia in preparation for going overseas.

On June 11, 1943, Albert and The Algonquin Regiment left for England, arriving on June 19, 1943.

A year later, he and his Regiment landed in Normandy, France on July 25, 1944, as part of the 10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Armoured Division.  They were part of the contingent to capture Falaise as Allied troops moved through France following D-Day on June 6, 1944.

…Albert was mentioned for his heroism during Operation Tractable…

On August 14, Operation Tractable began north of Falaise, with Canadian and Polish troops, supported by a British tank brigade. The aim of this battle was to capture Falaise and then the smaller towns of Trun and Chambois. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tractable)

Title page Breakout from JunoMark Zuehlke mentioned Albert in Chapter 27 of his book ‘Breakout From Juno’. On August 17, 1944, the Algonquin Regiment was in the area of Damblainville.  “….The Algonquins were the lead element in a long column of 10th Infantry Brigade and other 4th Armoured Division formations expecting to push across the Ante River bridge and advance on Trun…

After crossing the Ante River, Captain Clark Robertson’s platoon tried to seize a small railway bridge west of Point 77, where they were headed next.  As one section of troops crossed the railroad, they were attacked by gunfire.  Robertson was ordered to pull back.

Zuehlke explains what happened next. “…Extracting the section across the tracks proved no easy matter, but the men escaped under covering fire from the rest of the company. When it was discovered that a seriously wounded man had been left behind, ‘A’ Company’s stretcher-bearer, Private A.J. Cote went to get him.

As everyone else threw out fire, Cote dashed forward, found the man, quickly tended to his wounds, and carried him to safety.  ‘Quite the bravest act I saw during the entire war’ Robertson said later, even though Cote’s gallantry went officially unrecognized…

…Albert was in Belgium during the Battle of the Leopold Canal…

By September The Algonquin Regiment had moved up through northwest Europe into Belgium to be part of the preparations for the upcoming Battle of the Scheldt and the liberation of The Netherlands.

Leopoldkanaal_10-06-2008_12-56-18

The Leopold Canal in peacetime. (Source:Wikipedia)

The Algonquin Regiment was tasked with establishing a bridgehead across the Leopold Canal. This was unsuccessful for many reasons, and resulted in the Battle of the Leopold Canal on September 13-14, 1944. They failed because  “…a diversion failed to draw the German forces away, the boat launch was late and the artillery support ended too quickly. Many of the paddlers from other regiments assigned to assist The Algonquin Regiment never arrived, forcing the Algonquin troops to move the heavy assault boats across the canal and over the island where many German soldiers fired at them from hidden slit trenches….” (Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/services/military-history/history-heritage/casualty-identification-military/battle-leopold-canal-september-13-14-1944.html)

…Albert’s heroism continued during the Battle of the Leopold Canal…

On September 14, 1944, in the midst of heavy casualties, Allied troops were ordered to withdraw, with gunners firing all their ammunition in an attempt to provide cover for the retreating men.

Terrible Victory book coverMark Zuehlke mentions Albert Cote again in ‘Terrible Victory’:  “….The firing had the desired result, holding the Germans sufficiently at bay to enable most of the Algonquins to escape….

…Not all the Canadians managed to get out, despite men attempting to drag or carry the wounded while others protected them with covering fire. A number of the more badly injured had to be left. Stretcher-bearer Private Albert Joseph Coté volunteered to remain with three tourniquet cases. Soon after the other Algonquins headed off, shellfire wrecked the building where he and the wounded men sheltered. Coté was fatally wounded….

Finding Bill book coverThis wasn’t the end of the story, however!  Albert was mentioned in ‘Finding Bill’ by Henrietta T. O’Neill, published in 2009.  She records the recollection of Cpl Bill O’Neill in one excerpt: “Back at headquarters, a request for air re-supply was denied due to lack of aircraft, and by 12:00 that afternoon a withdrawal order was issued, accompanied by a heavy artillery barrage and smoke screen. Realizing they were being surrounded in the barn, Private A. J. Coté, a young stretcher-bearer, volunteered to stay with three soldiers who were too wounded to move. Later, the building was shelled by the Germans and Coté fatally wounded…

Albert didn’t die in the barn, but was badly wounded with a gunshot wound to his right thigh.  He was taken prisoner of war.

…Albert’s untreated wounds cost him his life…

Screenshot 2022-07-26 at 16-17-33 Leopold Canal to Bad Fallingbostel

A badly wounded Albert Cote was transported from the Leopold Canal in Belgium, to a field hospital in Fallingbostel, Germany.  After his death, he was initially buried in a prisoner of war cemetery in Orbke. (Map source: Google)

Albert ended up in Kriegs Lagerlazarett (Field Hospital) Stalag 11B near Fallingbostel, Germany.  Most likely, he would have been transported there by train along with other prisoners of war. International Red Cross reports from November 1944 indicate that conditions were dire there, with limited medical care, limited medical supplies such as dressings, and the supply of drugs was exhausted. (See https://www.pegasusarchive.org/pow/cSt_11B_History1.htm)

According to the German records, Albert died on October 5, 1944 and was initially buried in the Prisoner of War Cemetery in Orbke, 800 km northeast of Fallingbostel.

…..Albert is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten….

In March 1948, Albert was reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten.

cote, albert j. gravestone

Albert Joseph Cote is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands. (Photo courtesy of the Information Centre Canadian Cemetery Holten)

…..Albert Cote is listed on the North Bay Cenotaph in Memorial Park….

CIMG5568 May 18 2022 Pieter and Don at North Bay Memorial

Pieter and Don Coutts by a section of the Wall of Honour in Memorial Park in North Bay, Ontario.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

DSCN2391 A J Cote name is at the very bottom

Albert Joseph Cote, buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten. (Photo credit: Don Coutts)

Although he never received official recognition for his heroism, Albert Cote was remembered by several of the men he served with, and he is recognized on the Wall of Honour in Memorial Park in North Bay, Ontario where he grew up.

Researching this story took on a life of its own, as so many people volunteered their help.  Thank you to Shawn Rainville and Judie Klassen for researching the newspaper archives.  Judie also found the book references in which Albert Cote was mentioned and researched the Cote family.  Thank you to archivist Edward Drieger of the Harris Library at the University of Nipissing for the information about Albert Cote’s school activities.

Staff at the North Bay Public Library, the Nipissing District Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, and Captain Tim Feick and Cpl Brayton of The Algonquin Regiment independently dug into the archival material.  Special thanks go to the North Bay Nugget newspaper for its extensive coverage of WWII soldiers from the time period.

Both Mark Zuehlke and Henrietta T. O’Neill were contacted in case they had additional information on Albert Cote other than what was in their books.  Both responded, but nothing more could be added.

As our North Bay adventures conclude, we thank Don Coutts for guiding us around North Bay and arranging for the events we were able to participate in, and the North Bay Public Library for the invitation to do an Author Talk.

If you know of any soldiers that are buried in The Netherlands please let Pieter know. You can email him at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.

…Missed the previous postings about our North Bay Memorial Trail visit?…

…Want to follow our research?….

If you are reading this posting, but aren’t following the blog, you are welcome to do so.  See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/ or email me at dariadv@yahoo.ca and ask for an invitation to the blog.

Front cover OnTheWarMememorialTrailinEuropeDaria’s book ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten‘ is available in print and e-book formats.  For more information see https://nosoldierforgotten.com/

Upcoming Author Talk: Thursday, August 11, 2022 – Victoria-By-The-Sea, Prince Edward Island, part of the ‘Our Island Talks’ series, and hosted by Victoria Playhouse and Victoria Historical Association. Time: 2:00 pm.

You are also invited to subscribe to our YouTube Channel: On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ591TyjSheOR-Cb_Gs_5Kw.

© Daria Valkenburg

On The War Memorial Trail….. Remembering WW2 Soldier John ‘Jack’ Richard Maracle

July 17, 2022. Before we travelled to North Bay, Ontario in May for an Author Talk at the North Bay Public Library we were given the name of a WWII soldier buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands, who was listed as being from North Bay: John ‘Jack’ Richard MARACLE.

When Pieter began researching his story, he quickly saw that Jack Maracle was not from North Bay and had never lived there.  What was the connection?  It turned out that his maternal grandfather, Thomas Marshall, lived in North Bay, and his mother had grown up there. Mystery solved!

Jack Maracle from Brenda Baughman

John ‘Jack’ Richard Maracle.  (Photo courtesy of the Jack Maracle Family)

Brenda Baughman submitted a photo on behalf of the Maracle Family, explaining that it was “…a photo of my cousin John Richard Maracle. Jack, as he was called by the family, is in his WWII uniform.  My grandmother Florence was the sister of Jack’s father, who was always called Elmer….”   

Jack Maracle and his cousin, Freda Maracle (2)

Jack Maracle with Brenda Baughman’s mother Freda Maracle in Toronto, circa 1942. (Photo courtesy of the Jack Maracle Family)

…Jack Maracle had deep Mohawk roots….

Jack was born March 29, 1925 in Midland, Ontario, the son of Henry ‘Elmer’ and Irene Mildred (nee Marshall) Maracle.  He had deep Mohawk roots on his paternal side through Elmer’s parents. 

Elmer’s father, Albert Maracle, was born on the Tyendinaga Reserve in Ontario.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyendinaga_Mohawk_Territory and https://mbq-tmt.org/) Elmer’s mother Elsie (nee Hill) was born on the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Nations_of_the_Grand_River)

…Jack’s father was a professional hockey player….

Jack’s father Elmer was a professional hockey player, playing in six leagues across North America over the course of his 20 year career.  He was one of the first Indigenous players in the National Hockey League (NHL) when he was with the New York Rangers in the early 1930s. 

Elmer Maracle, North Bay - 1925

Elmer Maracle with the North Bay Trappers, circa 1925. (Photo courtesy of the Jack Maracle Family)

And there was a North Bay connection, as he played for the North Bay Trappers.  (See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Maracle)

Because of his father’s career, Jack and his sister Betty lived in several places throughout North America, returning to Ontario with their mother only once their parents’ marriage broke up.

…Jack had an aptitude for motor mechanics….

Jack worked in several jobs as a teenager, including bicycle delivery with a printing company, telegram delivery, press operator helper with lithography, and a shop man with the Canadian Pacific Railway. 

Before Jack enlisted with the #2 District Depot in Toronto, Ontario on March 29, 1943 – his 18th birthday – he was an elevator operator with the Robert Simpson Company, a department store that later became known as Sears. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpsons_(department_store)) 

The self-operated automatic elevators we know today replaced manually operated elevators, which required an operator to be able to regulate speed and have a good sense of timing to ensure the elevator stopped level with a floor. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elevator_operator)  These skills were a good preparation for Jack’s army career.

His Personnel Selection Record with the Canadian Army recorded that Jack was “… a neat, well-dressed young man of slim build… who is keen to get into the army… In each of his frequent job changes he has bettered himself…..”  It went on to note that he had “….well above average learning ability...” His aptitude and interest in motor mechanics was noted, including that he “…prefers the ‘Tank’ corps….” 

The Personnel Selection Record noted that Jack’s “… only sporting interest is roller-skating...” (not hockey!) and that he liked “…social events, and, for a hobby, collects photographs of locomotives…

…Jack’s army career began with armoured tank training ….

Jack’s medical exam noted that he had a hernia and a heart murmur, so he was placed in Category ‘D’ (temporarily unfit for service) and sent first to the Camp Petawawa Military Hospital (CPMH), then to Toronto Convalescent Hospital (TCH) for a hernia operation.

On August 20, 1943 he was transferred to #26 Canadian Army Basic Training Centre (CABTC) in Orillia, Ontario, where he stayed until October 18, 1943.  From Orillia he was sent to Borden, Ontario to the Canadian Armoured Corps Training Centre (CACTC) for advanced training in tanks, becoming a Qualified Driver i/c Class III Wheeled on November 25, 1943.  It was noted that he could not proceed overseas before his 19th birthday on March 29, 1944.

On April 30, 1944, he left sailed to the United Kingdom, arriving on May 7, 1944, where he was transferred to the Canadian Armoured Corps Reinforcement Unit (CACRU).  He was sent for further training, and qualified as Gunner Operator ‘C’ on August 1, 1944.

…Jack arrived in northwest Europe and joined the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment ….

On September 25, 1944 he arrived in France as part of the Canadian Armoured Corps reinforcement.    On October 31, 1944 he was transferred to the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars), which was in Breda, The Netherlands.

The November 1, 1944 War Diary entry for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment noted that “…This section of the country has received us exceptionally well but they are almost destitute for food as is evidenced by the number of civilians around our cook lorry…

On November 9, 1944 the Regiment moved towards the northeast to Groesbeek, near the German border, in preparation for upcoming operations in the Rhineland.

…Armoured tanks helped win the war…..

If you wondered what an armoured tank regiment did and the difficulties and dangers that were faced, you can take a look at this 47 minute documentary: ‘How Canada’s Blockbuster Tank Operation Won The Allies WW2

…Jack’s Regiment prepared for the upcoming battles in Germany…..

Christmas found the Regiment still in The Netherlands. The December 25, 1944 War Diary entry for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment noted that “…To-day the regiment, less one squadron, came under command of 3rd Canadian Infantry Division….

On February 7, 1945, War Diary entry for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment noted that “…Morale is at a high peak as it is evident by the flow of equipment on the roads that we are soon to witness our first real thrust into Germany….

The February 11, 1945 War Diary entry for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment noted that “…Now that Operation Veritable is in full swing traffic has been resumed to normal….” (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Veritable)

On February 19, 1945, the Regiment was informed that they would be going into Germany.  The War Diary entry for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment noted that “…This morning we were warned that the Regiment would be moving very shortly to the CLEVE area. The prisoners taken on operation Veritable have now risen to nine thousand one hundred…”  Kleve, Germany is just a few short kms from Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

On February 25, 1945, the War Diary entry for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment noted that “…. The crews are checking on all equipment and making minor repairs to make the tanks battle worthy as we have learned of a coming operation…”  This was for the Battle of Keppeln, fought between February 26 and March 3, 1945.  This was the start of Operation Blockbuster. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Blockbuster)

After Keppeln came the Battle of Balberger Wald, the southern section of the Hochwald Forest, southeast of Keppeln and part of the Schlieffen Line that protected the approach to the Rhine River. It took “two more days to complete clearing … after Le Régiment de la Chaudière had secured the Tüschen Wald on 2 March. As they probed southward and then eastward through the woods, the Queen’s Own Rifles and the North Shore Regiment encountered persistent resistance by small enemy bands…. Every advance was counter-attacked…. and the 1st Hussars, held up by numerous anti-tank mines, could only give supporting fire through the trees from stationary positions….” (See https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/Canada/CA/Victory/Victory-19.html, page 513)

…The final phase of Operation Blockbuster began on March 5, 1945 ….

In ‘A History of the First Hussars Regiment 1856-1980’ by Brandon Conron, published in 1981, explained that “… The final part of ‘Blockbuster’, in which the Regiment took an active part, was on March 5th… the plan was to attack east from the Hochwald and seize the high ground between Xanten and Sonsbeck...

The March 5, 1945 War Diary entry for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment noted that it was “…Cloudy with sleet and rain...

Conron’s Regimental history provides a bit more information.  “…Although first light was at 0645 hours, zero hour was set for 0615 hours. Despite the darkness the tanks moved forward with the infantry… By daylight it became quite evident that the buildings in the rear where not clear, for a continuous stream of German machine gun fire from that direction harassed everyone…” 

Jack was hit in the abdomen by a bullet from machine gun fire and quickly taken to a Casualty Clearing Post by the 23rd Canadian Field Ambulance, reaching it shortly after 7 am.  By noon he had been admitted to #3 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station in Bedburg, Germany. Despite efforts to save him, he unfortunately died on March 12, 1945.

map showing Reichswald forest and Bedburg

 …Jack is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek…

Maracle gravestone from Find A Grave

Grave of John ‘Jack’ Richard Maracle at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek.  (Photo source: http://www.findagrave.com)

Jack was temporarily buried at the Bedburg Canadian Military Cemetery before being reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Brenda Baughman, Lynda Wink, Gordon Cooper - July 12, 2022 resized

Brenda Baughman with her sister and brother. Left to right: Brenda Baughman, Lynda Wink, Gordon Cooper. (Photo courtesy of Brenda Baughman)

Thank you to Brenda Baughman for sending photos and sharing information on her cousin, Jack Maracle.  Our North Bay adventure concludes in the next posting. If you know of any soldiers from the North Bay area that are buried in The Netherlands please let Pieter know. You can email him at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.  

…Missed the previous postings about our North Bay Memorial Trail visit?…

….Indigenous soldiers featured on this blog….

To read about other Indigenous soldiers featured on this blog:

…Want to follow our research?….

If you are reading this posting, but aren’t following the blog, you are welcome to do so.  See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/ or email me at dariadv@yahoo.ca and ask for an invitation to the blog. 

Front cover OnTheWarMememorialTrailinEuropeDaria’s book ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten‘ is available in print and e-book formats.  For more information see https://nosoldierforgotten.com/

Upcoming Author Talk: Thursday, August 11, 2022 – Victoria-By-The-Sea, Prince Edward Island, part of the ‘Our Island Talks’ series, and hosted by Victoria Playhouse and Victoria Historical Association. Time: 2:00 pm.

You are also invited to subscribe to our YouTube Channel: On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ591TyjSheOR-Cb_Gs_5Kw

© Daria Valkenburg

On The War Memorial Trail In North Bay….. The WW2 Soldier Who Lost His Life On The Day Hitler’s Death Was Announced

July 13, 2022. Before we travelled to North Bay, Ontario in May for an Author Talk at the North Bay Public Library, Pieter and Don Coutts prepared a letter to the editor for the local newspapers to see if photos could be found for two North Bay soldiers buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands. 

The two soldiers were: John ‘Jack’ Langford WALKER and Albert Joseph COTE.  The letter ran in the North Bay Nugget on April 19, 2022….

Apr 19 2022 Letter to Editor North Bay Nugget

…Family of Jack Walker contributes a photo…

While waiting for the letter to be published, Pieter continued his research and found an obituary of Jack Walker’s brother, William Joseph Walker, which referred to several family members living in North Bay.  Don Coutts took it from there and was able to get in contact with Sue Love, who said that her brother had a photo.

Jack Walker 2

John ‘Jack’ Langford Walker. (Photo courtesy of the Walker Family)

John ‘Jack’ Langford Walker was born April 3, 1924 in North Bay, Ontario, the son of John Edmund and Angel (nee Gauthier) Walker. Before enlisting on January 6, 1943 in North Bay with the #2 District Depot, he worked for a local plumber, J. M. MacPherson. 

On January 28, 1943 he was transferred to #26 Canadian Army Basic Training Centre (CABTC) in Orillia, Ontario, where he stayed until March 31, 1943.  From Orillia he was sent to Borden, Ontario to the Canadian Armoured Corps Training Centre (CACTC) for advanced training in tanks.

On May 21, 1943 he was transferred to #1 Canadian Armoured Corps Training Regiment (CACTR) and then on August 13, 1943 he left Borden for #2 Transit Camp in Debert, Nova Scotia in preparation for going overseas.

On September 13, 1943, he left for England, arriving on September 19, 1943, where he was transferred to the Canadian Armoured Corps Reinforcement Unit (CACRU). At the end of November 1943 he was sent for a month long wireless course.

… Jack Walker is sent to northwest Europe…

On January 7, 1944 he was transferred to the 21st Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Governor General’s Foot Guards) and sent for further training, before leaving the United Kingdom for Normandy, France with the Regiment, arriving there on July 22, 1944.

In France, the Regiment was part of the 4th Armoured Brigade, 4th Canadian Armoured Division. The Regiment’s first battle was in Falaise in August, and it continued on to fight in northwest Europe, taking part in the Battle of Normandy, the Battle of the Scheldt, and then on to the Rhineland in Germany for the final phase of the war. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor_General%27s_Foot_Guards#The_Second_World_War)

…The Battle of Bad Zwischenahn took place in the last days of the war…

On April 20, 1945, the 4th Canadian Armoured Division was ordered to advance on Oldenburg, Germany.  Jack’s Regiment, along with the Canadian Grenadier Guards and the Lake Superior Regiment, were ordered north to the German spa town of Bad Zwischenahn. During the war, the largest Luftwaffe airbase in northern Germany was in Bad Zwischenahn.

This advance north of the Küsten Canal was difficult. Only a single road went across the Küsten swamps to Bad Zwischenahn, and in places the road disappeared. Tanks got bogged down and constant road maintenance was a priority to keep the road open.

badzwischenahncgg

Note the position of the Governor General’s Foot Guards at the bottom on the map.  (Map source: http://www.canadiansoldiers.com)

On April 30, 1945, Bad Zwischenahn was surrounded by Allied troops, and the burgomaster (mayor) was offered a choice of ‘unconditional surrender’ or ‘annihilation’. No formal surrender by the German military commander was made, but he did evacuate Bad Zwischenahn, and well into the night, heavy equipment was withdrawn by the Germans on the 4th Armoured Brigade front.  (See https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/history/battlehonours/northwesteurope/badzwischenahn.htm)

…Booby traps in Bad Zwischenahn ended in death…

In ‘Steady the buttons two by two: Governor General’s Foot Guards regimental history, 125th anniversary, 1872-1997’, by Robert M. Foster and Tim Richter, it was noted that although the enemy garrison withdrew from Bad Zwischenahn and the town was taken without a fight, on May 1, 1945 “… booby traps in the vicinity killed Guardsmen V. P. Hanney and J. L. Walker, the Regiment’s last two battle casualties…

Jack was 20 years old. Vivian Playster HANNEY, age 32, was the son of Jonathon and Mary Hanney, of Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, Wales.  Like Jack, he is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.

Ironically, this is the same day that Germany announced the death of Adolph Hitler, who had died on April 30, 1945.  This announcement led to the end of the war in Europe a few days later.  On May 5, 1945, in Bad Zwischenahn, Lt.-Gen. Guy Simonds received the unconditional surrender of those German forces facing the Corps in northern Germany. 

…Jack Walker is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten…

Jack was temporarily buried in Germany before being reburied on March 8, 1946 in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.

Walker JL John B137425

Grave of John ‘Jack’ Langford Walker at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten.  (Photo source: Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

Thank you to Don Coutts and Sue Love for arranging for a photo of Jack Walker.  Thank you also to Shawn Rainville and Norma Wall for researching the newspaper archives, and to Vincent Lafond of the Military History Research Centre of the Canadian War Museum for help in researching what happened to the Regiment on May 1, 1945.  Kudos to the North Bay Nugget newspaper for its extensive coverage of WWII soldiers from the time period and for digitizing the newspapers.

Our North Bay adventures continue in upcoming postings. If you know of any soldiers from the North Bay area that are buried in The Netherlands please let Pieter know. You can mail him at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.  

…Missed the previous postings about our North Bay Memorial Trail visit?…

…Want to follow our research?….

If you are reading this posting, but aren’t following the blog, you are welcome to do so.  See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/ or email me at dariadv@yahoo.ca and ask for an invitation to the blog. 

Front cover OnTheWarMememorialTrailinEuropeDaria’s book ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten‘ is available in print and e-book formats.  For more information see https://nosoldierforgotten.com/

You are also invited to subscribe to our YouTube Channel: On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ591TyjSheOR-Cb_Gs_5Kw

© Daria Valkenburg