Periodically, we will continue to update our
site visitors with the progress of our Study and let you know
what other events will be happening along the way. As originally
planned, The Far From Home project is still on schedule and will
be completed over the next two years.
Our original challenge was to visit 3885 Canadian casualties
in 836 locations when we launched the ‘Far From Home’
project in 2007. Over the intervening ten years, the number of
casualties has steadily risen to 3898 and the number of locations
has escalated to 868.
By the beginning of 2017, we had visited 3856 of the 3898 casualties
and will have travelled to the final 42 casualties in 40 different
locations across the United Kingdom before the end of next year.
The names of the following 14 additional casualties were originally
recorded by the CWGC in either their United Kingdom or Canadian
Books of Remembrance because their final resting place was ‘Unknown’.
So far this year…………
We have undertaken four short road trips which necessitated our
staying overnight in modest motel accommodation. For this reason,
we remain open for sponsorship towards the costs of our forthcoming
trip one - January:
Our first port of call was St Bartholomew’s Church at Haslemere
in Surrey to visit the grave of Captain William Dowler. He served
with the Canadian Army Medical Corps but never returned to Canada
when the war ended. Instead homeless, William wandered the area
and in November 1919, was found dead in a farmer’s field
after he had cut his own throat. We can only speculate what state
of mind he had endured throughout his years of service. Captain
Dowler was buried in an unmarked grave in the Churchyard Extension.
We were able to locate the exact spot where he was laid to rest,
which is where the CWGC has recently erected his headstone.
Leaving Surrey, we headed north west for Wiltshire to the church
of St Michael at Melksham. Gunner Frank Stanley Arthur died on
the 5th August 1920 and was buried somewhere within the Churchyard.
Unfortunately, as his exact grave was never marked and the church
records are inconclusive, his newly installed headstone reads:
“Buried elsewhere in this cemetery”. However, Frank’s
name does appear on the local War Memorial in the town centre.
The third location for this trip was to Swindon Village in Cheltenham.
In March 1921, Private Alfred Tinsley Whitaker was laid to rest
in the grounds of St Lawrence Church. A new headstone now marks
the spot for perpetuity.
Our final destination was Greenbank Cemetery at Bristol in Gloucestershire.
We located and photographed the new headstones for two men, Private
John Dyte and Private James William Webb, who both served with
the Canadian Infantry.
trip two – Easter:
This time, we needed to travel to three locations in Devon, which
is the south-west area of England. En route to our main destination
of Plymouth, we took a minor detour to All Saints Church at Okehampton.
We had discovered Sergeant John Oag had been buried in the churchyard,
but that his actual grave reference was unknown. With such a large
churchyard made up of several separate sections, we needed to
determine by the burial dates on the headstones, which section
was the most likely to contain our Canadian. After establishing
John would almost certainly have been buried in the original churchyard,
we carried out a row by row search for him and were delighted
when we found not only his grave, but an adjacent one also belonging
to other members of his family. As the engraving on John’s
original private headstone is still in extremely good condition,
the CWGC are satisfied that Sergeant Oag is adequately commemorated.
Whilst we were at All Saints, we were also able to inform the
Church Officers that they had a First World War Canadian in their
care so that they may now add his name to the war memorial in
the churchyard. We have also informed the local British Legion
about Sergeant Oag and they have assured us that John will be
remembered alongside all the other war veterans each November
The following day, we arrived at Torquay Cemetery in Devon, where
we found the grave for Sergeant Percy Leonard Shepherd who died
on the 3rd April 1920. His pristine new headstone now marks his
place ninety-seven years after his death and sits in a large section
of what appears to be largely unmarked graves.
Our final location was St John The Evangelist Church at Plymouth
Hooe in Devon. Lieutenant Colonel George Michael James Giles was
originally one of the 44 names commemorated on the 1914-1918 Memorial
Wall at Brookwood and his burial place was recorded as “Unknown”.
In fact, George did have a substantial family memorial erected
when he was buried in this Churchyard. At the time of his death
on 24th August 1916, Lieutenant Colonel Giles was 62 years old
and was serving with the Canadian Army Medical Corps.
trip 3 – June
This spur-of-the-moment road trip to two towns along the south
coast of England was to visit and record the new headstones recently
erected for two Canadians whose names were also on the Brookwood
1914-1918 Memorial Wall.
Private William Rogers was another 1921 death but still qualifies
as a war casualty. He was found to have been buried in Brighton
and Preston Cemetery in Sussex.
Travelling onto Portsmouth in Hampshire, we found the grave for
Thomas James Tremble. This Canadian was not a soldier, but was
the Headmaster of HM Colonial Training Ship “Niobe”.
When he died aged 59 years on the 8th October 1916, Thomas was
buried in Kingston Cemetery at Portsmouth.
Road trip 4 - August
Our final trip for 2017 was to four locations so that we could
maximise our available time away from home.
Two years ago, we were able to determine that L/Corporal Harry
Day had been buried at Welwyn Parish Cemetery in Hertfordshire.
He was born and raised locally before emigrating to Canada but
died at Welwyn on 25th March 1919. With help from the two local
historians (Peter Shirley and Paul Jiggins) and the cemetery groundsman,
John Quinton, Harry’s exact spot was identified by a metal
marker in June 2015. We revisited the cemetery with Peter Shirley
and were delighted to see the CWGC had erected a headstone to
L/Corporal Day just a few weeks ago.
After driving south to East Finchley in London, we were able to
photograph the new headstone for Private John Desmond (17 May
1881 – 17 September 1919). His headstone, in St Pancras
Cemetery, can only reflect the general area in which he was laid
to rest so his memorial is marked accordingly with “Buried
Elsewhere in the cemetery”. The important fact is that John
has at last been memorialised with a marker in the actual section
where he was buried.
Private Robert Brunt is buried in Islington Cemetery but like
Private Desmond he was previously commemorated on the 1914-1918
Memorial Wall at Brookwood . Robert died on 9th May 1921.
Islington Cemetery is immediately adjacent to St Pancras Cemetery
and both are managed by Sean Holloway to whom we owe an enormous
debt of gratitude. Without his help and patience during our three
separate visits over the last two years, we certainly would have
been hard pressed to locate either Private Desmond or Private
Robert Brunt. Measuring over 190 acres in total, the vastness
of both these cemeteries does require an intimate knowledge of
their layouts, where one cemetery ends and the other begins.
Turning towards home, we called into Chingford Mount Cemetery
in Essex to pay our respects to Private Philip Edgar Soall, (1921)
whose new CWGC headstone was found next to a family memorial nestling
up against the back boundary of the site.
Having recorded and photographed all these new headstone, they
will now be added to each County volume and the profile for all
the men completed.
As we discover and visit each casualty around a century after
their deaths, it is very gratifying to have been instrumental
in ensuring that all these Canadians have suitable memorials and
allow for future generations to pay their respects.
we are planning one-off first time trips to Jersey (3 locations
each with one casualty), Guernsey (1 location and a single casualty)
and the Isle of Man (again, 3 locations each with one casualty)
to complete our commitment to Far From Home. Once again, with
the additional expense of costly sea crossings to these islands,
we are still actively looking to secure sponsorship for these
final laps of our marathon journey which to date has spanned over
addition, our travels will see us retracing our footsteps to locations
in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic
of Ireland to visit the casualties whose final resting place has
finally been identified over the last few years. It is a great
honour for us to have played our part in these acts of remembrance.
If you would like to contribute to our Centennial Memorial Project,
please click here. All sponsorship will be acknowledged on this
site and highlighted in any future hard copy reports or seminar
papers produced by us. Your support will be hugely appreciated.
2018, our 868th and final destination is likely to be at St Peter
Port, Guernsey in the Channel Islands, Subject to prior approval
from the local authority, we are planning to plant a Canadian
Maple Tree. It will be a fitting way to mark the end of our Far
From Home project and will be a permanent reminder of the huge
sacrifice given by the Canadians who fought with Britain during
The Great War.
next article about the Great War Canadians has been completed
and submitted to the Editor of the Western Front Association Magazine
“Stand To!” We look forward to seeing it in print
in the next couple of months.
we are able supply an individual DVD for any one of the 3898 Canadian
service men and women who are commemorated in England, Northern
Ireland, Scotland and Wales. In addition, our website can also
supply an individual DVD by location or county. Please refer to
Our Catalogue (click here) for full
the final addition of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, Our
Catalogue will include all 3898 casualties in our Far From Home