January 10, 2023. In 2017, we visited La Laiterie Military Cemetery in Belgium, where WW1 soldier Arthur Clinton ROBINSON is buried. Born July 20, 1896 in the USA, but moved as a child to Tryon, Prince Edward Island, Arthur enlisted in the 26th (New Brunswick) Battalion on November 20, 1914 and remained with the Regiment until his death.
…Arthur lost his life on the first day of the Actions of St Eloi Craters Battle….
On March 27, 1916, he was killed in action during the Actions of St Eloi Craters when shell fire hit the trenches southeast of Kemmel. The battle lasted from March 27 until April 16, 1916. Sint-Elooi (the French St Eloi is also used in English) is a village about 5 km (3.1 miles) south of Ypres in Belgium.
The British had dug tunnels in No Man’s Land, then placed large explosive charges under the German defences, and blew them at 4:15 a.m. on March 27. The plan was for the 2nd Canadian Division, which Arthur’s Battalion was part of, to take over and hold the line. (NOTE: ‘No Man’s Land’ was a WWI term used to describe the area between opposing armies and trench lines.)
The plan was a disaster as Canadian troops were sent to the battlefield before they had time to prepare for the attack. (For more information, see https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/battle-of-st-eloi-craters and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actions_of_St_Eloi_Craters)
In ‘A Family Of Brothers’, author J. Brent Wilson explains that “…during the German retaliation for the attack, the 26th faced a heavy pounding that killed seven men and wounded another eighteen…” One of these casualties was Arthur.
…. La Laiterie Military Cemetery was chosen by the Battalion…
After visiting La Laiterie Military Cemetery, it was interesting to read in ‘A Family Of Brothers’ that a section of the cemetery was chosen by soldiers in the 26th (New Brunswick) Battalion as a “…. focus for their remembrance….” The section set aside for the Battalion’s 67 burials was “…marked by a large board bearing the battalion’s name….”
The cemetery is located “…about a kilometre behind the front trenches on the road between Kemmel and Vierstraat. The area surrounding the cemetery had once featured groves of trees and fine residences, but since had been blasted by shellfire….”
…. The Battalion didn’t want the identity of a buried soldier to be lost…
One of the most intriguing things read in ‘A Family Of Brothers’ was the care taken with burials, with one soldier buried per grave, with “…. small white crosses at the head of each burial mound…” On each cross was “…nailed an aluminum metal plate with the name, number, and battalion…” of the deceased.
But the Battalion went further, a smart move in a war where battlefront cemeteries could come under crossfire. “…To ensure that the identity of the soldier in the grave was not lost if something happened to the cross, the man’s name was inserted into bottles that were placed at the head of the grave and beneath the body….” It would be interesting to know if that bottle is still there!
….Previous stories about Arthur Clinton Robinson…
Arthur Clinton Robinson is one of the names listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion. Unfortunately, a photo of him has yet to be found by either us, or his family. Can you help put a face to this name? Do you have a story to tell? Email Pieter at firstname.lastname@example.org, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.
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