On The War Memorial Trail….. The WW1 Soldier From Abrams Village Buried In Manitoba Cemetery in France

March 6, 2022.  In 2017, we visited Manitoba Cemetery outside Caix, France, to place flags by the grave of WW1 soldier James CAIRNS of Kinkora, Prince Edward Island, who lost his life on August 9, 1918 during the Battle of Amiens. (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2017/09/30/the-search-for-manitoba-cemetery/)

When we signed the Guest Register Book, we were astonished to find that the previous visitors had come to honour their great-uncle and great-great uncle Theodore (Ted) Francis ARSENAULT from Abrams Village, Prince Edward Island.

Pte Theodore Arsenault (Great great uncle)

Theodore Arsenault. (Photo submitted by Stephen Arsenault)

In November 2021 Colleen Arsenault shared a photo of her great-great-uncle, explaining that her mother and sister had signed the guest book in that far away cemetery. (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2021/11/10/on-the-war-memorial-trail-linking-the-past-with-the-present/)

…4 generations of the Arsenault family have served in the military….

Shortly after this, Stephen Arsenault sent us research on Ted Arsenault, and explained that 4 generations of his family served in the military.  “Theodore and his brother Camille were both from Abrams Village. Further descriptions as follows:

Gnr Camille Arsenault (Great Grandfather, Theodore's Brother)

Camille Arsenault. (Photo submitted by Stephen Arsenault)

  • Gnr Camille J Arsenault, 2nd Canadian (Overseas) Siege Artillery Battery CEF. Saw action at Vimy Ridge. Survived the war and re-enlisted during WW2 serving with the Canadian Army Service Corps at a POW camp in New Brunswick at the time. Camille was born August 22, 1895.

    Sgt Francis Arsenault (Grandfather)

    Francis Arsenault. (Photo submitted by Stephen Arsenault)

  • Stephen’s grandfather: Sgt Francis J Arsenault, served with 2 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery.

Edgar Arsenault. (Photo submitted by Stephen Arsenault)

  • Stephen’s father: LCol Edgar F Arsenault, Logistics Officer, Royal Canadian Air Force. Later Honorary Colonel of 14 Mission Support Squadron, 14 Wing CFB Greenwood.  

He went on to say that “…Interestingly, in my (limited) spare time, I am an Artillery Officer serving in the Primary Reserves with 1st (Halifax-Dartmouth) Field Artillery Regiment, RCA, which makes 4 consecutive generations of military service to Canada spanning over 100 years. …

… Ted Arsenault enlisted in the 105th Overseas Battalion….

Ted Arsenault was born May 14, 1897 in Egmont Bay, Prince Edward Island, the son of François (Frank) and Adeline (nee Gallant) Arsenault.  When he enlisted with the 105th Overseas Battalion in Summerside, Prince Edward Island on May 1, 1916 he listed his occupation as farmer.

In June 1916, Ted travelled to Valcartier, Quebec with the Regiment for training prior to sailing to England from Halifax a month later aboard ‘Empress of Britain’.

…Previous stories of Islanders who were aboard the ‘Empress of Britain’ with Ted Arsenault….

Several Islanders, whose stories have previously been told, were on that same ship.  Among them were:

The ship docked in Liverpool, England on July 25, 1916.  The troops were sent to Shorncliffe and attached to the 1st Training Brigade.  They were later transferred to different training brigades in Surrey.

…Ted was gassed at Passchendaele….

In November 1916, Ted was sent to France as part of the 14th Battalion (Royal Montreal Regiment).  A year later, on November 5, 1917, during the Second Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium, Ted was poisoned by a mustard gas shell that exploded.  (For more information, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Passchendaele)

He was invalided to England and sent to the King George Hospital in London for treatment. According to his medical file, he …had a sore throat and loss of voice for a month… and …breathing was difficult at night…” until January 13, 1918.

From the hospital in London he was sent to Manor War Hospital, a convalescent facility in Epsom.  It wasn’t until March 4, 1918 that the medical staff declared his chest was clear, and he was discharged 4 days later.  On May 16, 1918 he returned to France and the 14th Battalion.

….The Battle of Amiens…

The Battle of Amiens, also known as the Third Battle of Picardy, was the opening phase of the Allied offensive.  It began on August 8, 1918 and ended on August 18.  Later known as the Hundred Days Offensive, this was the battle that ultimately led to the end of the First World War.  (For more information, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Amiens_(1918) and a short video clip at https://finance.yahoo.com/video/battle-amiens-started-century-ago-173913821.html)

A few years ago, a short video onThe 100th anniversary of the Battle of Amiens and Canada’s Hundred Dayswas prepared and is available on YouTube:

…Two Islanders lost their lives on August 9, 1918…


Battle of Amiens.  (Map source: http://www.rememberourvets.ca)

According to the war diary of the 14th Battalion, on the morning of August 9, 1918, the Regiment was ordered to “…march towards Cayeux, the headquarters of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade.  The march was very difficult owing to the congested traffic on the road. The Battalion was ordered to support the 8th Canadian Battalion and moved to assembly positions….

By 11:40 am they were in position, for the expected attack at 1 pm.  “… The attack was made over very flat ground and many casualties were caused by the intense machine gun fire…”  Among the casualties killed in action that day was Ted Arsenault.

As mentioned at the beginning of this posting, James CAIRNS, who served with the 8th Canadian Battalion, also lost his life that afternoon.

…Buried at Manitoba Cemetery outside Caix…

CIMG8555 Sep 6 2017 Pieter at entrance to Manitoba Cemetery

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

Like so many WW1 cemeteries in France, Manitoba Cemetery, where both James Cairns and Theodore (Ted) Francis Arsenault are buried, is in a rural location, surrounded by farmers’ fields.  It was fitting that during our visit in September 2017, bales of hay, a familiar site on Prince Edward Island during this period, surrounded the cemetery.

CIMG8558 Sep 6 2017 Manitoba Cemetery by hay bales

Bales of hay surround Manitoba Cemetery outside Caix.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

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

Grave of Theodore Francis Arsenault of Abrams Village. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Thank you to Colleen Arsenault and Steven Arsenault for sharing information on their great-uncle and their family’s ongoing military service.  If you have photos or information to share, please let Pieter know. Email him at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.

…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.


Daria’s bookNo Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgottenis now available.  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….. Linking The Past With The Present

November 10, 2021. Recently our friend Annie Lee MacDonald sent an email to say that she and her husband had been sent a story by their friend Jim, “about his Father and brothers. We didn’t know any of this. Shows the important contribution you two are making of taking the past and sharing it with the present…”  (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2021/10/20/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-ww2-pilot-from-pei-who-flew-40-missions-overseas-and-returned-home/)

We loved her phrase of ‘taking the past and sharing it with the present’ as that is what we are doing in telling these stories.  Many of the postings and articles have had a ripple effect, leading to more remembrances, information, and stories. This posting shares some of these ….

In May 2021, a 4 part series entitled ‘A Tragic Drowning On The Leda River in Germany’ told the story of five Canadian soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who drowned in a tragic accident in the Battle of Leer in Germany on April 28, 1945, one of the final actions to end WW2 in Europe.  All 5 men are buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten.

…A series of coincidences ensures this niece will never forget…..

Joseph ‘Ambroise’ Comeau of Saulnierville, Nova Scotia, was one of these men.   (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2021/05/17/on-the-war-memorial-trail-a-tragic-drowning-on-the-leda-river-in-germany-part-3/)

Joseph Ambroise Comeau from Simone

Joseph ‘Ambroise’ Comeau.  (Photo courtesy of niece Simone Comeau)

His nieces have never forgotten him. Jacqueline Comeau shared how she found her uncle’s gravesite at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten in 1990 while on a school band trip with her son.

….In 1990 I visited The Netherlands with my older son on a high school band trip. To say we had a marvelous time and were so warmly greeted everywhere we went is an understatement. Thankfully we were taken to the Holten War Cemetery and, purely by accident, while walking the grounds, I spotted my uncle’s grave. To that moment, my mother’s family believed he was buried in Germany, perhaps because he died on German land.

This was a momentous event for myself as we were at the cemetery on the 45th anniversary of his death, I was 45 years old and I then discovered that he had a memorial service in his home village on the day I was born (June 3, 1945) …

Ambroise had indeed initially been buried in Germany, and then was reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten afterwards.  Jacqueline shared her story in a French language newspaper, Le Courrier….

article about Jacqueline Comeau visit to Holten

Newspaper article submitted by Jacqueline Comeau. The headline reads ‘Found after 45 years’.

…The discovery of my uncle’s grave in 1990, with the coincidences of dates, such as the date of his death is the date I discovered his grave; a memorial service was held in his honor in his home parish of Saulnierville on the day I was born, June 3, 1945 is unique…

…A telegram one niece will never forget…..

Photo Lewis Marsh

Lewis Wilkieson Marsh. (Photo source:  Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

Lewis Wilkieson MARSH, of Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, was another casualty of the drowning in the Leda River.  (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2021/05/18/on-the-war-memorial-trail-a-tragic-drowning-on-the-leda-river-in-germany-part-4/)

Burnie Reynaert wrote to say that “My Uncle Lewis Wilkieson Marsh died on April 28, 1945. I was with my Nana when she received the first telegram that he was believed drowned.  I remember I was standing on the last step near front door when this boy gave her the telegram….

Burnie shared the telegram she was witness to.  One can just feel the horror and fear that her grandmother must have felt upon receiving it.

Telegram advising Marsh is missing

First telegram advising that Lewis Marsh was missing and believed drowned.  (Document courtesy of Burnie Reynaert)

Worse news was to come, as a second telegram confirmed that Lewis had lost his life.

Telegram advising Marsh is KIA

Second telegram advising that Lewis Marsh was killed in action.  (Document courtesy of Burnie Reynaert)

Burnie went on to say “…Thank you so much for your research, I never thought I would see his name and the others that died with him.  I want to thank you both. I am so emotional with love and gratitude for all you have done. I am finally feeling some closure.

My uncle was born November 14, 1925 in Sydney Mines, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He had 8 siblings and his father died in 1934. Nana raised them, and had me to raise.

Uncle Lewis worked in Princess Collieries in Sydney Mines for thirteen months. He would be seventeen. I recall Nana and my mom arguing with Lewis that he was not old enough to join. Maybe she had to sign papers? He enlisted on May 26 1944, embarked from Halifax on December 1944, and embarked from UK on December 25 1944….”

…A niece now knows what happened to her uncle …..

Charles Borden Tuplin

Charles Borden Tuplin. (Photo submitted by Gary Richard Perry)

As part of the Atlantic Canada Remembers series of postings, we did a story in March 2021 on Charles ‘Charlie’ Borden TUPLIN of Indian River, Prince Edward Island, who lost his life on December 7, 1944 while serving with the Black Watch.  While crossing a bridge on the Maas River in The Netherlands, Charlie was shot while trying to retrieve the body of Lt Thomas Wilson MacKenzie.  (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2021/03/29/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-ww2-soldier-from-indian-river/)

Charlie was wounded and taken by the Germans, but died very shortly afterwards.  He’s buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten. Months after the story about Tuplin was posted on our blog, Lt MacKenzie’s niece, Judy Hopkins, got in contact to say that until she read the story that arose out of Pieter’s research, no one in the family knew how Lt MacKenzie had died.  This is probably right as MacKenzie’s service file had multiple letters from his parents asking for this information.

Judy wrote that “I am responding to your article of March 29, 2021, about Charles B. Tuplin. My uncle was Lieutenant Thomas Wilson MacKenzie of No. 1 Black Watch of Canada RHR, mentioned in the article.  And what astonishment to see and read this account of the raid on the front line that took both these men’s lives.

I have just recently been researching this event, as I am writing a life story for the ‘Faces to Graves’ project involving the soldiers buried at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. So, it was with intense interest that I read this article.

My uncle was ‘Missing in Action’ for several months, causing great concern to his family in Calgary, Alberta. When the regiment moved forward in February, no graves were located for Tuplin or MacKenzie, leaving them to believe that they may have been taken POW.

It was never explained to my grandmother where her son’s remains were found….just that after some months, a body had been identified as his.

In the article, it stated: ‘MacKenzie’s body was later found buried in a temporary cemetery, near where he lost his life.’ And so these two men were together at the end of their lives; Tuplin was taken prisoner, and my uncle likely died at the site of his injury.

After all these years, it is still incredible that new information is learned, and also that people such as yourself are providing a space to honor these men’s memories. Thank you for this. ..


Thomas Wilson MacKenzie. (Photo submitted by Judy Hopkins)

…He was the much beloved son of Christine MacKenzie, a widow, and brother to my mother, Margaret.  In his letters home, which I still have, he writes about the great bunch of men under his command, and speaks highly of all of them…

…A street in The Netherlands may be named for one soldier …..

Lt. Percy Dexter Higgins

Percy Dexter Higgins.  (Photo courtesy of the Higgins Family)

In a January 2021 posting in the Atlantic Canada Remembers series, we wrote a story about Percy Dexter HIGGINS of Stellarton, Nova Scotia, who was serving with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders when he lost his life during the Battle of Warnsveld on April 4, 1945.  He’s buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten.  (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2021/01/16/on-the-war-memorial-trail-atlantic-canada-remembers-part-3/)

Shortly afterwards, we received an email from Harm Kuijper in The Netherlands, who explained that there was “…a proposed plan to name a street for Lt Percy Dexter Higgins in the city of Zutphen, Netherlands in the new Looer Enk Subdivision….”  The Higgins family was notified of this proposal and we look forward to hearing more on the street naming as plans progress.

…Two WW1 soldiers from Prince Edward Island are buried in France …..

In 2017, we visited the Manitoba Cemetery in Caix, France, to place flags by the grave of WW1 soldier James CAIRNS of Kinkora, Prince Edward Island, who lost his life on August 9, 1918 during the Battle of Amiens.  James had moved to Manitoba and was serving with what is now the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2017/09/30/the-search-for-manitoba-cemetery/)

We weren’t surprised to see soldiers from the Prairie Provinces in the cemetery, but when we signed the Guest Register Book, we were astonished to find that the previous visitors had come to honour their great-uncle and great-great uncle Theodore (Ted) ARSENAULT from Abrams Village, Prince Edward Island.

Although this posting dates back to 2017, it wasn’t until a few days ago that Colleen Arsenault wrote us.  “Hi there, in doing a bit of internet research on my Great Great Uncle Ted (Theodore Arsenault) to prepare my kids for Canadian Remembrance Day here in Toronto, I came across this post. I instantly recognized my mother Debi and sister Melanie’s handwriting above your entry in the guest book at Manitoba Cemetery. It is so lovely for our family to know that you had put an additional decoration up for our Uncle Ted. Sometimes the internet can truly be a wonderful place! The Arsenault family thanks you….

A mystery was solved!  The Arsenault family sent us a picture of Theodore.  Unfortunately, up to now, no photo has ever been found for James Cairns.

Pte Theodore Arsenault (Great great uncle)

Theodore Arsenault. (Photo submitted by Stephen Arsenault)

Thank you to Colleen Arsenault, Jacqueline Comeau, Judy Hopkins, Harm Kuijper, and Burnie Reynaert for sharing photos and anecdotes. We very much appreciate hearing from readers and having them share their stories.

If you have photos and information to share about Canadian soldiers, please contact Pieter at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.


..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://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com or email me at memorialtrail@gmail.com and ask for an invitation to the blog.

Screenshot_2021-02-27 On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg

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

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