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Thursday, July 6, 2017

'Putting wheels in motion' resulted in World War I battleground tour for Dr Frank Broomhead


Putting the "wheels in motion" while JR Broomhead was on a trip to England earlier in 2017, resulted in a World War I battleground tour for his father  Dr. Frank Broomhead, who has been a history buff since he was a kid growing up in Chapleau.

JR was visiting John Broomhead, the son of Anna and Arthur Broomhead, who lives in England, and as plans progressed, John got in touch with me about the trip. The wonders of Facebook!

John explained that given Frank's interest in the Great War specifically, and 2017 being the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge - a defining moment in the history of Canada - the battleground tour was arranged with a tour guide. JR and his father made the trip in June.

John told me he was "amazed but not surprised" at Frank's knowledge of the Great War (1914-1918), as was the tour guide. I am not. Out of the mothballs of memory, I vividly recall walking down Chapleau's main street when we were both students at Chapleau High School, and then I was amazed at his interest in history.

On their tour they wanted to "track down" as many "Chapleau boys" as possible who died while on active service in our armed forces during World War I.  Obviously I am delighted, as is Michael McMullen, my cousin and co-author of 'The Chapleau Boys Go To War' that Frank took a copy of the book along and used it as a reference.

They located 12 Chapleau boys, and  provided some photos. See below for names and biographical sketches.

As an aside, 32 with a Chapleau connection died while on active service in World War I. We identified 283 volunteers, a remarkable number, given the size of Chapleau.  In World War II there were 418 enlistments and 29 died.

John shares the story of the trip that he, JR and Frank made: "On Day 1 we drove to Ypres, Belgium and covered the John McCrae Memorial (Advanced Dressing Station, Essex Farm),  Langemark Cemetery - one of only three German Cemeteries for the fallen german soldiers in WWI, Vancouver Corner (St. Julien Memorial for the Gas attacks and the Canadian defence of St. Julien in April, 1915) and the fight for Passchendaele in 1917. We ended the day at the very moving Menin Gate 'Last Post' ceremony which takes place every evening at 8pm."


"Day 2 took us to Vimy to see the trenches, tunnels and the impressive Canadian memorial there, and then a visit to the Somme battlefields in the afternoon where we saw the preserved Newfoundland Park battlefield at Beaumont-Hamel, the large (British) Thievpval Memorial to the Missing and the battlefields around the village of Courcelette (where the Canadians fought in September and October of 1916 including the Memorial to the Tank Corps -- the first usage of tanks in WWI, and the Regina TrenTrench."


"It was a lot to pack in two days - but was very moving and informative."

They were able to identify 12 with a Chapleau connection, and Michael McMullen kindly provided brief biographical notes on each of them. More details on each are in our book 'The Chapleau Boys Go To War'.

Tyne Cot Cemetery, Passchendaele, Belgium
E.D. Turner
Edgar Turner was a member of the Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment) 24th Battalion, when at 18 years of age, he died on November 6, 1917.


Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium


The following five Chapleau Boys died in Belgium during the First World War and were listed as missing and presumed dead.  Their names are commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial.  
J. Hewitt
James Hewitt enlisted in the Canadian Army at Niagara, Ontario on September 7, 1915.  He was with the Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment) when
he died on June 13, 1916 at age 26.
W.D Unwin
William Unwin enlisted in the Canadian Army at Val Cartier, Quebec in September 1914. He was a member  of the Canadian Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regiment), 2nd Battalion, who died on April 24, 1915 at the age of 21.
P. Chappise
Peter Chappise enlisted in the Canadian Army at the Niagara Camp, Ontario
on August 31, 1915 in the 37th Battalion. He was 22, when he died on June 13, 1916 in the service of the Canadian Infantry (Ontario Regiment), 3rd Battalion.

W.S Haskins  
Walter Haskins enlisted in the Canadian Army at Lindsay, Ontario on March 27, 1916 in the 109th Battalion. He was 19 years of age and serving with the Canadian Pioneers, 124th Pioneer Battalion when he died on November 14, 1917.

A.A. Therriault  
Alfred Therriault enlisted in the Canadian Army, 52nd Battalion at Port Arthur, Ontario (now part of Thunder Bay) on June 16, 1915. He was 24 and with the Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment), 52nd Battalion when he died on June 9, 1916.

Vimy Memorial, Vimy, France
The following five Chapleau Boys died in France during the First World War and were listed as missing and presumed dead.  Their names are commemorated on the Vimy Memorial.  
 A. Mortson
Alexander Mortson enlisted at Niagara on September 7, 1915 in the Canadian Army, 37th Battalion. He was with the Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment), 13th Battalion, when he died on September 4, 1916.  He was 30.

J. Moir
John Moir enlisted in the Canadian Army on March 8, 1915 in Toronto, Ontario. He was serving with the Canadian Cavalry Machine Gun Squadron when he died on December 1, 1917 at age 26.
A. Evans
Ambrose Evans  joined the 106th Light Infantry in Winnipeg, Manitoba in August 1914 and then enlisted in the Canadian Army at Valcartier, Quebec on September 25, 1914.  He was with the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), Royal Canadian Armoured Corps (R.C.A.C.), when he died on May 25, 1915 at age 31.

A.E. Jefferies
Albert Jeffries enlisted in the Canadian Army at Oshawa, Ontario on November 30, 1915 in the 116th Overseas Battalion.  He was serving with the Canadian Army (Eastern Ontario Regiment) when he died on May 3, 1917 at age 26.
P. Hall
Percy Hall enlisted at Chapleau in the Canadian Army, 227th (Men of the North) Battalion on April 30, 1916. He was serving with the Canadian Machine Gun Corps, 1st Battalion, when he died on August 29, 1918 at the age of 22.

Regina Trench Cemetery, Courcelette, France
J.F.P Collings
John Collings enlisted in the Canadian Army at Halifax on November 25, 1914. He died on October 1, 1916 at age 24 as a member of the Canadian Infantry (Nova Scotia Regiment), 25th Battalion.  





 Thanks so much John, JR and Dr. Frank. Also thanks to Michael K. for his assistance. 'The Chapleau Boys Go To War' is available at Chapleau Village Shops or on  www.amazon.ca. My email is mj.morris@live.ca


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Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
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