Gallantry and the Third Battle of Ypres

Lady Haig Poppy Cross at Passchendaele. (P. Ferguson image, September 2016)

Lady Haig Poppy Cross at Passchendaele. (P. Ferguson image, September 2016)

The 16th Battalion C.E.F. (The Canadian Scottish) at Passchendaele Ridge

In mid-October 1917 the Canadian Expeditionary Force was ordered to move towards Passchendaele Ridge, Belgium in relief of troops from Australia and New Zealand. The first attack, by Canadians at Passchendaele, occurred 26 October 1917. By mid-November when the Ridge was captured by the C.E.F. they had suffered the loss of 15,654 soldiers.

Soldiers of the 16th Battalion C.E.F. started their journey to the “waterfields” of Passchendaele 20 October 1917 and on arrival were held in Divisional Reserve at Wieltjie. On 2 November 1917 the 16th moved to Gravenstafel Ridge where they relieved the 116th Canadian Infantry Battalion, a unit of the Third Canadian Division. Between 2-8 November 1917 the Canadian Scottish were moved in an out of the frontlines returning to Divisional Reserve at Wieltjie 9-10 November 1917.

Shell fragments near Passchendaele. (P. Ferguson image, September 2016)

Shell fragments near Passchendaele. (P. Ferguson image, September 2016)

Passchendaele Ridge Awards

The Military Medal for Bravery in the Field

420375 Corporal Charles Arthur Bent
Later awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal
Born: Exeter, Devonshire, England ( 7 March 1874)
Trade or Calling: Farmer

During the last tour in the trenches at PASSCHENDAELE RIDGE, this non-commissioned officer was in charge of a post in advance of the lines, where he was thrown entirely on his own resources. The place was under continuous heavy shell-fire, but his coolness and bravery were such that he had perfect control of the situation during the whole tour. His men have the utmost confidence in him and speck in the highest terms of his inspiring devotion to duty.

28910 Corporal Alexander Fullarton Hamilton
Born: Lamlash, Arran, Scotland (3 April 1893)
Trade or Calling: Electrical Engineer
Died of wounds at No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station (Shrapnel wounds left arm, left side)
9 November 1917
Age 24
Buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium
Headstone Inscription: “THY WILL BE DONE”
Son of Mr. and Mrs Robert Hamilton of Blairbeg, Lamlash, Arran, Scotland

While in command of a carrying party which came under the heaviest artillery fire, this N.C.O. has complete control of the situation and kept his men under perfect command. He placed them so as to avoid casualties as much as possible and ultimately delivered all the ammunition in his charge to the dump. Subsequently in the trenches before Passchendaele he was most zealous in getting the wounded to the dressing station under shell-fire and showed entire disregard for his own safety.

Passchendaele Memorial at the location of Crest Farm, Zonnebeke, Belgium. (P. Ferguson image, September 2013)

Passchendaele Memorial at the location of Crest Farm, Zonnebeke, Belgium. (P. Ferguson image, September 2013)

722112 Private Ernest Sydney Dunning
Born: Townsville, Queensland, Australia (6 April 1882)
Trade or Calling: Laborer

On the 8th November 1917 in the trenches at PASSCHENDAELE RIDGE, a number of men in an exposed position in a forward shell hole were wounded and buried by shell-fire. Although the place was bombarded continuously, Pte. Dunning went to the spot and rescued all the men in turn from where they had been buried and brought them into the trench. He was most fearless and his prompt and brave action was undoubtedly the means of saving the lives of the men he rescued.

154616 Private Ernest Lister Hornby
Born: Blenheim, Kent County, Ontario
Trade or Calling: Engineer

During the last tour in the trenches at PASSCHENDAELE RIDGE Nov. 2nd/8th 1917, where the battalion had heavy casualties, being under unremitting shell-fire, this man was indefatigable in his duties as Stretcher-Bearer, exposing himself to the greatest perils in order to render first aid to the wounded and superintend their conveyance to safety. His splendid services on this occasion as on many others won the admiration of all ranks.

Looking from the Passchendaele Memorial towards the waterfields. (P. Ferguson image, September 2013)

Looking from the Passchendaele Memorial towards the waterfields. (P. Ferguson image, September 2013)

28915 Sergeant Charles Henry Leslie
Born: Trondra, Shetland, Scotland (13 May 1888)
Trade or Calling: Sailor

During the last tour in the trenches at PASSCHENDAELE RIDGE this Sgt. Was a striking example of the influence of a good N.C.O. on the men under his command. [He] was constantly up down the trench cheering and aiding his men digging out those who had been buried and caring for the wounded. His long and faithful service in the trenches has won for him the unstinted regards of his Company Officer and the men under him.

29369 Corporal Alexander Mowat
Later awarded Bar to the Military Medal
Born: Halkirk, Caithness, Scotland (16 August 1893)
Trade or Calling: Pipefitter’s Helper

During the last tour in the trenches taking over a new position near PASSCHENDAELE on the 2nd/8th November 1917, the N.C.O. showed conspicuous energy and initiative, taking his section out under heavy shell-fire and superintending their digging in in a good tactical position. During the whole tour he was untiring in his duties under the most exhausting circumstances. He also took charge of the stretcher-bearers in his Company during the most fearful hours of the bombardment and was successful in having all the wounded carried out, the dead buried and the position was consequently over in good shape.

Looking from the Passchendaele Memorial towards Zonnebeke. (P. Ferguson image, September 2013)

Looking from the Passchendaele Memorial towards Zonnebeke. (P. Ferguson image, September 2013)

77015 Sergeant Thomas McRae
Born: Aberdeen, Scotland (7 April 1889)
Trade of Calling: Stonemason
Later awarded Bar to the Military Medal

During the last tour in the trenches at PASSCHENDAELE RIDGE, this N.C.O. was a remarkable example of coolness, sound judgement and fortitude. With restless energy he passed to and fro in the trenches cheering his men and aiding them to their work, digging out the buried and caring for the wounded. His dour indifference to danger under the most terrible circumstances cannot fail to cheer and inspire all those about him. On this occasion as on many others he was a splendid example to all.

A20113 (430113) Lance Sergeant James George Souter
Later Lieutenant
Born: Aberdeen, Scotland (18 November 1893)
Trade or Calling: Farmer
Died 9 October 1918
Age 23
Buried at Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, France
Headstone Inscription: “EVER REMEMBERED BY THOSE WHO LOVED HIM”
Son of Margaret Souter, of Greystone Corse, Lumphanan, Aberdeen, Scotland and the late James Souter

During the last tour in the trenches at PASSCHENDAELE RIDGE Nov. 2nd – 8th 1917, this N.C.O. displayed magnificent qualities of leadership. He was always present where the shell-fire was heaviest, encouraging his men and assisting the wounded. His nonchalance at these times proved a great inspiration and help to the men under him. On all occasions he has proved himself to be a brave and efficient soldier.

Other Awards

No awards of the Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross or Distinguished Conduct Medal have been specifically traced for actions at Passchendaele by soldiers of the 16th Battalion CEF. These awards will no doubt reveal themselves with further research. Citations for these awards do not contain data as to where they were awarded. Once research has been completed they will be added to this article. No awards of the Victoria Cross were made to the 16th Battalion for Passchendaele.


About The Author

pferguson
In April 2007 Paul met Casey and Ian Williams of the Paradigm Motion Picture Company in Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul has worked with Paradigm since 2009 as Producer and Historian. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was amazed by films such as David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.

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