On The Road To Rouen

October 1, 2017.  Leaving the Arras area, which we had thought was busy enough, was an experience, as now we encountered toll roads.  We soon learned to dread the words ‘gare de péage’.  While all the toll booths have iconic names, like the first one we pulled up at, named ‘Jules Verne’, they are now mostly automated, and you need cash or a debit or credit card.

If you are one of the modern people thinking “Dinosaur”, let me describe the experience.  First off, the box where you have to pay is designed to accommodate truckers, not people in dinky toy cars like the majority of cars used in Europe.  Most people do not have the rubber arms needed to reach up to drop the money in, so each toll booth encounter takes longer than it would if you paid an attendant, as car doors open and people try to squeeze out in the available space to drop their money in manually, or pay by card.  And of course, you need first to figure out WHERE you place your money as there is more than one slot.

If you use cash, as we did, you soon also learned that it’s best to have exact change, as otherwise you have to WAIT for change and then reach up to another slot to get your money.  Anyone in a hurry sometimes leaves their change behind!

PEI is not alone in charging heavy tolls.  We left 7.70 euros at Jules Verne, only to encounter another toll booth 6 minutes later!  At this one we picked up a ticket which cost us another 5.70 euros half an hour later.  The count so far … 13.40 euros.  In Canadian dollars it comes to about $19.75, and the day was just beginning.

It took us just over 2 ½ hours to get to Rouen from Mont St. Eloi, and, following the GPS instructions to the St. Sever Cemetery, arrived at Boulevard Stanislas Girardin, only to find it was in downtown Rouen.  No cemetery in sight!  The streets are extremely narrow, jam packed with cars and pedestrians and most of the streets one way traffic only.  We finally gave up trying to figure out what had gone wrong and stopped in front of a short driveway into a huge government building behind a walled gate, and asked a passerby for help.

The poor man looked at our sheet from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and finally said, very kindly, that we were on the right street, but not in Rouen.  The cemetery was in a nearby community.  Sure enough, when we looked at the cemetery location instructions, it said it was “situated on the eastern edge of the southern Rouen suburbs of Le Grand Quevilly and Le Petit Quevilly.”  But what we didn’t understand was why we’d been directed downtown when we had the right street.

The man explained that it was in either Le Grand Quevilly or Le Petit Quevilly, he wasn’t sure which.  So, the GPS got reprogrammed for Le Grand Quevilly.  The word “suburb” was a misnomer.

While this discussion had been going on, traffic was backing up as people wanting to get into or out of the government driveway were held up as we were blocking the road.  Not one person honked or showed any impatience!  We thanked the man for his help, and then slowly backed up onto the traffic, and made our way out of town.

Le Grand Quevilly was a short distance away, but it was not the location of the cemetery.  We pulled into a car dealership to ask directions, only to find out that France shuts down for lunch break.  Everything was locked up, but we found a salesman in a tent on the lot, reading his emails.

I’m from a different country,” he said, when we asked about the cemetery.  Then he made us laugh when he went on to say, “I’m from Paris.”  But he was very effective at finding someone who could help us and that’s when we learned that we wanted to be in Le Petit Quevilly, and how to get there.

In Le Petit Quevilly, on a street by the same name as in Rouen (what are the odds?), we were able to find St. Sever Cemetery Extension, the location where Bazil Cormier is buried.

CIMG8598 Sep 7 2017 sign directing us to St Sever Cemetery Extension

Sign to the St. Sever Cemetery in Le Petit Quevilly. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

According to the information provided by the Canadian War Graves Commission, during WW1, Commonwealth camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen.  Most hospitals remained there during the war.  A number of those who died in the hospitals were buried in other cemeteries, but the majority were buried at St. Sever Cemetery.  In September 1916, the Extension, where Cormier is buried, began.

In WWII, Rouen was again a hospital centre, and several Commonwealth soldiers who were prisoners of war during the German occupation are buried in the Extension.

St. Sever Cemetery Extension is the largest cemetery we’ve been to so far, with 8,348 WWI Commonwealth burials, 10 of them unidentified, 328 WWII Commonwealth burials, 18 of them unidentified, and 8 foreign nationals.

With such a large cemetery, it was not easy to find Cormier’s grave.  Luckily, in this cemetery, several gardeners from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission were on site.  While Pieter went to look in the Grave Register, I looked at the graves, trying to find the row in which Cormier was buried.  One gardener asked if I needed help.  When I explained who we were looking for, he asked if I had the paper with the burial information.  I explained it was on the other side of the cemetery with Pieter, who was comparing it to the information in the Grave Register.

Just to let you know how great these workers are, the gardener immediately went over to the other side of the cemetery and then spent the next few minutes looking for the grave, which of course was as far away as possible from where we were!

CIMG8587 Sep 7 2017 Pieter at the grave of Bazil Cormier at St Sever Cemetery Extension

Pieter at the grave of Bazil Cormier in St. Sever Cemetery Extension in Le Petit Quevilly. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

According to his Attestation papers, Private Bazil CORMIER was born January 6, 1898 in Tignish, the son of Joseph Cormier and Marie Arsenault.  A farmer before enlisting with the 105th Draft Regiment on December 4, 1916, he died of wounds received in the Battle of Amiens near Cachy on August 12, 1918, at the age of 21.  At the time of his death he was with the 26th New Brunswick Battalion.

The War Graves Register Circumstances of Death notes that “During operations east of Amiens, on the morning of August 8th 1918, he was hit in the head by a machine gun bullet. He was immediately dressed by a comrade and carried out, but succumbed to his wounds at No 4 General Hospital, Rouen, four days later...”  According to the active/casualty document in his file, however, he was transported to the No. 5 General Hospital, not the No 4 General Hospital, where he died.

The Battle of Amiens, also known as the Third Battle of Picardy, was the opening phase of the Allied offensive which began on August 8, 1918, later known as the Hundred Days Offensive, that ultimately led to the end of the First World War.  This is the same battle in which James Cairns lost his life on August 9, 1918.

CIMG8592 Sep 7 2017 Pieter at grave of B Cormier in St Sever Cemetery Extension

Pieter by the grave of Bazil Cormier. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

As with too many of the WW1 soldiers, we have no photo or further information about Bazil Cormier.

The cemeteries we’d been to in the past days had all been in the countryside.  St. Sever Cemetery Extension was in an urban setting, and bordered the Rouen Soccer Club, which caught the interest of soccer fan Pieter.

CIMG8590 Sep 7 2017 next to St Sever Cemetery Extension is the soccer club of Rouen

The Rouen Soccer Club was on the other side of the fence of the St. Sever Cemetery Extension. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

We couldn’t leave the cemetery without giving flag pins to the gardeners, one of whom spoke English and told Pieter that he had just graduated from horticultural college and loved his job.  The head gardener, who had helped us in the beginning, was unfortunately out on an errand, so we were not able to say goodbye to him.

CIMG8596 Sep 7 2017 Pieter with a CWGC gardener at St Sever Cemetery Extension

Pieter with a young CWGC gardener at St. Sever Cemetery Extension. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

In the next blog entry we make our way to Bayeux, which has a connection with Pieter’s genealogical research as well as the Cenotaph research project. Do you have photo or info on Bazil Cormier?  Comments or stories?  You can share them by emailing us at dariadv@yahoo.ca or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg


Reflections on the Cemetery Visits in the Arras Area

October 1, 2017.  After visiting the cemeteries and Vimy Memorial to honour the memories of the soldiers on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion who perished in the area around Arras, we went to our “local” café for the past few days, L’Eurostar Café Brasserie, for a well-deserved rest and final meal before leaving the area.

IMG_20170904_185344129 Sep 4 2017 Pieter at LEurostar Cafe in Arras enjoying a Leffe beer

Pieter enjoying Leffe blond beer at L’Eurostar Café Brasserie in Arras. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

In France, dinner is not served before 7 pm.  Normally that wasn’t a problem for us as we would arrive at a restaurant completely exhausted long after 7 pm, but after the success in finally finding Manitoba Cemetery we arrived back in Arras in the late afternoon, and decided to have an early dinner before packing up to leave the area in the morning.

We arrived at the café at 5:45 pm only to be told the kitchen didn’t open before 7 pm.  We were too tired to go back to the hotel and come back later, so we ordered an appetizer, camembert cheese of course in honour of our host country, and a drink and relaxed until the chef appeared, right on the dot of 7 pm.

Since we had all this time to relax and reflect on our journey so far, I asked Pieter how he felt.  He said that, for him, “visiting the graves made things come full circle.  You start off with a name on the Cenotaph.  Then you begin the research and read up on what happened.  Hopefully you get a photo and personal stories.  Now we’ve ended up where the person died after a very short life.”

Pieter thought a bit before he continued, “On the one side, I feel sorry they died so young.  On the other hand I feel honoured to be there to pay respects to them.  It makes me want to know more about them, now that I’ve visited their grave or memorial.”

We both agreed that for the soldiers without a photo the picture is not complete.  “When I stand by a grave at the cemetery and have a photo so I know how the person looked, then I can feel a connection,” Pieter explained.

“It’s especially sad for soldiers like Arthur Collett, buried in Grandcourt Road Cemetery, and James Cairns, buried in Manitoba Cemetery, that they are buried in cemeteries that get very few visitors. They are just a number.” Each identified grave lists the soldier’s name, unit, rank, and identification number.

We both also agreed that the gardeners and maintenance staff at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission do a fantastic job of keeping up the cemeteries.  Over the past days, we’ve handed out Canadian flag pins to anyone we’ve seen driving around in the white vans with CWGC written on them and they have been enthusiastically received.  Up to now, we hadn’t seen anyone in a cemetery itself, but the work they do in sometimes very difficult locations, such as Grandcourt Road Cemetery, is to be commended.

When Pieter began this project, World War I was just history to us, no different than the various dates and historical facts we learned in school over the years.  Now it’s become a story with real people, and along the way, we are meeting wonderful people who work hard to preserve the history that we have largely forgotten.

In the next blog entry we visit the ruins of Mount St. Eloi church before going on to Rouen to St. Sever Cemetery Extension. Do you have photos or information about James Cairns?  Does anyone know the family members who visited the grave of Ted Arsenault of Abrams Village? Comments or stories?  You can share them by emailing us at dariadv@yahoo.ca or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg




The Search For Manitoba Cemetery

September 30, 2017.  After the visit to Beaumont-Hamel, we had only one cemetery left to visit in the area around Arras.  Our previous attempt to find Manitoba Cemetery in Caix had been fruitless and frustrating.  We’d asked in the village and were willingly directed to the only “English” cemetery known in the area – the British Cemetery!  There also was a German cemetery.  Manitoba Cemetery?  No one heard of it.  We’d tried the neighbouring village of Beaufort, and got directed to the same British Cemetery.

Pieter spent a long time online looking at Google maps to try and find out why we’d had so much trouble, and eventually realized that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission direction to the cemetery was incorrect!  The directions stated that the cemetery was “situated between the village of Caix and Beaufort.”  According to Google maps, there was a small road between the two villages where the cemetery appeared to be located.  However, there was NO Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery sign anywhere along the road between the villages, and no one we had asked had heard of it.

Back we went for a second try and arrived, again, in Caix.  Pieter was determined to find the grave of James CAIRNS, if he had to search every road in the area.

CIMG8363 Sep 5 2017 sign for Caix the location of the Manitoba Cemetery

We reach the village of Caix, location of Manitoba Cemetery. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Following the information Pieter learned from studying Google maps, we actually found the cemetery, down a farm path.  We’d actually been on the path the day before, but hadn’t gone down far enough as we thought it was a private road, not a public one, and there were no signs indicating that a cemetery was down the road.

CIMG8555 Sep 6 2017 Pieter at entrance to Manitoba Cemetery

Pieter at the entrance to Manitoba Cemetery just outside Caix. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

According to the information panel at the cemetery, the village of Caix was captured from the Germans in February 1917, lost in March 1918, and recaptured by the Canadian Corps four months later.  Named after the Manitoba Regiment of the 8th Canadian Battalion (known as Winnipeg Rifles), the cemetery has the graves of 2 British and 117 Canadians who fell in the recapture.  Seven of the burials are unidentified.

This was the second James Cairns on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, one identified as James Ambrose Cairns, and the one buried in Manitoba Cemetery known as James Cairns.  Born on February 22, 1897 in Kinkora, he was the son of Thomas Cairns and Mary Jane MacDonald.

The family moved to Manitoba from the island, and Cairns enlisted with the 190th Battalion Manitoba Regiment on July 8, 1916.  He was killed in action during the Battle of Amiens on August 9, 1918.  The Battle of Amiens, also known as the Third Battle of Picardy, was the opening phase of the Allied offensive which began on 8 August 1918, later known as the Hundred Days Offensive, that ultimately led to the end of the First World War.

According to the Canadian War Graves Register circumstances of death, Cairns …Was instantly killed on the afternoon of August 9th 1918, while advancing with his battalion, in the face of stout opposition from the enemy, who placed a heavy barrage at the “jumping off” place, and from hidden nests poured machine gun fire in the ranks of the troops who pushed forward.  Location of the unit at the time of the casualty: West of the Meharicourt-Rouvroy road…

CIMG8557 Sep 6 2017 Pieter places flags by grave of James Cairns at Manitoba Cemetery

Pieter placing flags by the grave of James Cairns at Manitoba Cemetery. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

While we don’t have a photo of James Cairns, we are lucky to have a glimpse into his personality, through a letter that the sister of James Cairns received on September 18, 1918 from the 83rd Canadian Battalion British Expeditionary Forces:

My Dear Miss Cairns:

I regret that the conditions of war made it impossible for me to write you sooner regarding the death of your brother Pte. James Cairns. He died in the afternoon of Aug 9th during the second day of our advance in front of Amiens. Death was instantaneous, the result of a machine gun bullet. I buried the body in a cemetery on the battlefield where many of his comrades lie. The grave is marked and will be permanent.

I knew your brother. He was doing well and was liked by everybody. His life has been given for human freedom and it will not be in vain. God will be pleased to accept the sacrifice and to make through it a better world. I pray God will bless you abundantly and sustain you all in this trial.

Believe me to be yours in deepest sympathy.

J. W. Whillans – Capt. and Chaplain

We thought this was it for our trip to the cemetery.  All that was left was to write in the Guest Register.  While doing so, we had a little surprise.  The previous visitors from July 13 had come to honour their great-uncle and great-great uncle Theodore (Ted) ARSENAULT from Abrams Village! Who would believe that the last visitors to Manitoba Cemetery visited a soldier from PEI?

Entries from the Guest Register at Manitoba Cemetery in Caix.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

We couldn’t leave without placing flags by another soldier from PEI!

IMG_20170906_152615630 Sep 6 2017 grave of Ted Arsenault in Manitoba Cemetery in Caix

Grave of T. E. Arsenault of Abrams Village. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

With that, we left Manitoba Cemetery and drove a way down the farm road to see if there may be a sign we missed.  There wasn’t, but we came across a reminder that this part of France saw suffering in WWII, as well as WW1.

CIMG8569 Sep 6 2017 WWII memorial on a farm path outside Caix

Memorial down the road from the Manitoba Cemetery outside Caix which roughly reads “On June 7, 1940 31 French soldiers from the 41st Infantry Regiment and 10th Army of Rennes were massacred by the Nazis. Remember. Colonel Loichet, commander of the 41st Infantry Regiment” (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

We drove around in the area, looking for a Commonwealth War Graves sign and found a very battered sign on the farm road, not on the main road, that you would see, not from Caix, but from Beaufort en Santerre. If you are planning to visit Manitoba Cemetery, the only other sign you will see is in Quesnel, from the D41. This town, however, is not mentioned in the cemetery info provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission!  From Quesnel, you would head towards Beaufort en Santerre via D161 and take an unnumbered road, called Rue du Bois, to reach the cemetery.  Where is Caix in all this?  If you continue past the cemetery then you will reach Caix, which has several military cemeteries which are clearly marked, but not the one for Manitoba Cemetery.

In the next blog entries we reflect on the cemeteries we’ve seen so far and visit the ruins of Mount St. Eloi church before going on to Rouen to St. Sever Cemetery Extension. Do you have photos or information about James Cairns?  Does anyone know the family members who visited the grave of Ted Arsenault of Abrams Village? Comments or stories?  You can share them by emailing us at dariadv@yahoo.ca or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg


Grandcourt Road Cemetery in Farmers Fields

September 28, 2017.  After a few successful cemetery finds, we decided to make a second attempt at finding Grandcourt Road Cemetery, the burial place of Arthur COLLETT.  We finally found it in the afternoon on a very narrow path between farm fields, one km south of the village of Grandcourt in the spectacularly beautiful Somme Valley.

CIMG8361 Sep 5 2017 we reach the Somme Valley in France

We reach the Somme Valley in France. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

The Commonwealth Graves Commission write up on the cemetery warned that access was difficult, saying “Please note that parking is difficult.  There is no permanent pathway to the cemetery.  Visitors must cross two fields to reach the cemetery.”  They weren’t kidding!

By “no permanent pathway” they meant you had to drive down a very narrow path which had inches to spare on either side on our small rental car.  We were dwarfed by a cornfield on one side and a potato field on the other.

CIMG8535 Sep 6 2017 corn is higher than car by Grandcourt Road Cemeter

You can see how close we were to the cornfield! (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Needless to say, there was no parking and no way to turn around except to drive backwards!  We simply stopped the car beside the sign pointing to the cemetery and crossed our fingers in the hope that no one would come along down the road or we would be in trouble before anyone saw the car.

The next challenge, now that we found the location, was getting to the cemetery.  It involved crawling up a set of steps to the first field.  One look at the steps, with no railing, and it was clear that only Pieter was attempting this journey.

CIMG8520 Sep 6 Sep 6 2017 steps going up to Grandcourt Road Cemetery

The steps leading up to the fields that one had to cross in order to reach Grandcourt Road Cemetery. The bottom step is inches away from our car! (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

From the top of the steps it was another 500 metres, across two fields, before Pieter reached the cemetery.  Poor Arthur Collett!  From Rhodes Scholar to lie buried in a field in the middle of nowhere!

In one field, the farmer had made a grass path to walk along, in order to reach the cemetery, a thoughtful gesture that was much appreciated.

CIMG8522 Sep 6 2017 grass path leading to Grandcourt Road Cemetery

Grass path across a farmer’s field towards Grandcourt Road Cemetery. The trees in the distance indicate the cemetery location. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

The second field wasn’t as easy to cross.  That farmer found his potatoes more important than providing access to the cemetery, and did not have a grass path.  Luckily for Pieter, it was not raining or he would have been stuck in the mud.

CIMG8523 Sep 6 2017 second field potatoes more important than access to Grandcourt Rd Cemetery

Second farmer’s field did not have a grass path towards Grandcourt Road Cemetery. The trees in the distance indicate the cemetery location. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Eventually, however, Pieter reached the gates of the cemetery, and learned it was made in the spring of 1917 when the Ancre battlefield was cleared.  There are 391 WW1 burials, 108 of them unidentified.  390 are British soldiers, and one, our Lt Arthur Collett, the lone Canadian burial.

CIMG8524 Sep 6 2017 gates of Grandcourt Rd Cemetery

After crossing two farmers’ fields, Pieter reached Grandcourt Road Cemetery. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Arthur Leigh Collett was born December 8, 1888 in Victoria, Prince Edward Island, the son of Ella May Simmons, and was the adopted son of William Henry Collett and Alice M.  Moore.  After receiving a Bachelor of Arts from King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, but shortly afterwards enlisted in the 12th Regiment in September 1914, later transferring to the 8th Battalion of The Gloucestershire Regiment.  According to the King’s College history, he “at once forsook his work at Oxford and enlisted in the Imperial Army.  He served in France with the 8th Gloucesters.

Arthur Collett 1

Arthur Collett. (Photo courtesy of Heather and Paul Moore Family Collection)

In a Pioneer newspaper article from July 15, 1916, came word of an injury, which he survived. “Mr. W. H. Collett, Victoria, has received a cablegram from London, England, notifying him that his son Lieut. A. L. Collett, was wounded on July 3rd. Lieut. Collett, who is a Rhodes scholar and also an Oxford M.A., went over to England with the First Contingent and was later transferred to the 8th Gloucester Regiment.

Unfortunately, he died in action on November 18, 1916 during the last day of the Battle of the Ancre.  The Battle of the Ancre, fought against the German 1st Army between November 13 and 18, 1916, was the final large British attack of the Battle of the Somme.

The war diary for November 18, 1916 of the 8th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment made the following record:  “Formed up in artillery formation preparatory to attack on Western outskirts of. Grandcourt. 6:10 a.m. attack launched, first objective reached and carried. The 10th regiment was right on our right being partially held up our flank was in the air. Casualties: 12 Officers, 283 Other Ranks.

And so that’s how Arthur Collett ended up in Grandcourt Road Cemetery, sharing a grave with an unknown soldier.

CIMG8528 Sep 6 2017 grave of Arthur Collett at Grandcourt Rd Cemetery

Grave of Arthur Collett in Grandcourt Road Cemetery. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

After placing the flags by Collett’s grave, Pieter had to retrace his steps back across two fields and down the narrow steps, then squeeze himself into the small space between the steps and the car.  Then we had to gingerly inch our way back out onto an actual road.  We were lucky.  No one came onto the path while we were there!

Grandcourt Road Cemetery is difficult to access, and requires a lot of time, determination, and a good level of physical fitness.  Consequently, it’s not well visited.  Pieter wrote in the Guest Register and noted the previous entry was dated four months earlier.

In the next blog entry we visit the Newfoundland Memorial at Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Battlefield Memorial Park before we continue our search for the Manitoba Cemetery. Do you have information or photos for Arthur Collett? Comments or stories?  You can share them by emailing us at dariadv@yahoo.ca or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

A Trip To Bellacourt Military Cemetery

September 27, 2017.  After successfully finding our way to a number of cemeteries in France, we were growing more confident.  Next on our list was to find the Bellacourt Military Cemetery in Riviere, 10 km southwest of Arras, the burial place of two soldiers listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion – Patrick Phillip DEEGAN (aka DEIGHAN) and Percy FARRAR (aka FARROW).  Both men died in the same area, about 5 km south of Arras.

All of the Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries have a stone fence around them, and inside the cemeteries there is green grass, and the graves all have a white headstone of the same shape and size.  In each cemetery there is a Cross of Remembrance and a memorial stone.  Most of the time there is also a sign on the road directing you to the cemetery.

CIMG8501 Sep 6 2017 Sign for Bellacourt Military Cemetery

Sign giving directions to the turnoff to Bellacourt Military Cemetery. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

In each of the cemeteries we’d been to so far, we’ve been the only visitors, and Bellacourt was no different.  Most of the cemeteries we’d seen had been surrounded by farm fields.  Bellacourt, however, is near a waste collection centre!  Luckily, it’s not visible from the cemetery.

CIMG8502 Sep 6 2017 Bellacourt Military Cemetery

Bellacourt Military Cemetery. The graves marked with crosses only are French burials. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

According to the information provided by the Commonwealth Graves Commission, the cemetery began by French troops in October 1914, and carried on by various British divisions and later by the Canadian Corps.  There are 432 Commonwealth burials in the cemetery, 1 of which is unidentified, and 117 French burials.

At the time of their deaths, both Percy Farrar and Patrick Deegan were with the 26th New Brunswick Battalion.  Private Patrick Phillip Deegan was born November 25, 1894 in Cape Traverse, the son of Alexander Deegan and Margaret Anne Tierney.

Deegan, Patrick Phillip

Patrick Phillip Deegan. (Photo from Lest We Forget Project in Credit Union Place in Summerside. )

A clerk employed by Messrs. R. T. Holman, & Co. before the war, Deegan had twice been turned down for enlistment before being accepted as part of a reinforcement draft with the 105th Draft Regiment in 1916.  In his obituary in the May 4, 1918 Agriculturalist publication, “In the 105th he quickly was raised to Corporal and instructor in musketry but in order to get to the front he sacrificed his stripes, and went over about two months ago.

On April 21, 1918, Deegan was instantly killed in action by an explosion of an enemy shell in the trenches in the vicinity of Mercatel, 11 km east of the cemetery.

CIMG8507 Sep 6 2017 Pieter by grave of Patrick Deegan at Bellacourt Military Cemetery

Pieter by the grave of Patrick Deegan at Bellacourt Military Cemetery. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Percy Farrar (sometimes spelled Farrow) was born July 30, 1895 in North Tryon, the son of William Farrar and Margaret Jane McKinnon, and enlisted in October 1915.

Percy Farrar

Percy Farrar. (Photo courtesy of South Shore United Church in Tryon.)

Like Deegan, he died in the vicinity of Mercatel, two months after Deegan, on June 23, 1918, during German Spring offensives on the Western Front.

CIMG8512 Sep 6 2017 Grave of Percy Farrar at Bellacourt Military Cemetery

Grave of Percy Farrar at Bellacourt Military Cemetery. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

After Farrar’s death, his family moved to California.  The San Diego Union newspaper of March 13, 1921 noted that Farrar had died “while manning a machine gun”.   The newspaper noted that Farrar’s father received “two memorial scrolls from Buckingham Palace, London, in commemoration of the death of his son, Percy Earle Farrar, who was killed in action in the World War on the western front in France, June 23, 1918.”  One of the scrolls was signed by King George of England and stated that “I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial of a brave life given for others in the great war.”

CIMG8517 Sep 6 2017 Daria writes in the guest register at Bellacourt Military Cemetery

We always write the names of the soldiers we’ve come to pay our respects to in the Guest Register. Daria enters the information at Bellacourt Military Cemetery (Photo credit Pieter Valkenburg)

In the next blog entry we continue our search for the Manitoba and Grandcourt cemeteries. Do you have information or photos for Patrick Phillip Deegan (Deighan) and Percy Farrar (Farrow)? Comments or stories?  You can share them by emailing us at dariadv@yahoo.ca or by commenting on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg