Jump to content
Gentleman's Military Interest Club

Recommended Posts

On April 9th 1917 the Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought as part of the opening phase of the British-led Battle of Arras. Four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force took part in the battle together for the first time and was successful in driving the German Sixth Army from the ridge. A 250-acre part of the battleground on Hill 145 serves as the site for the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.

There were 10,602 Canadian casualties of which 3,598 were killed and 7,004 wounded. The Germans suffered an unknown number of casualties with approximately 4,000 men becoming POW's. Four Victoria Crosses were awarded to the Canadian Corp. (Information from Wikipedia)

One of those Canadians Killed in Action on the first day (9th April) was Private 401015 James Stone Olde, 4th battalion, Canadian Infantry, Central Ontario Regiment. Aged 22 he was born in the civil parish of Forrabury, Boscastle, Cornwall, England in 1895. His parents were Mark and Mary Olde.

James is buried at the Bois-Carre British Cemetery, Thelus which was part of the 4th Battalions objective during the battle and would have been one of those first over the top as the 4th were in the front line on the morning of the 9th April, Easter Monday 1917.

James is also remembered in Canada’s Book of Remembrance page 303.

This is his Victory Medal which was awarded posthumously after the War. The picture of the memorial  I took back in 2007 when I visited Vimy, Ypres, Passchendaele and the Somme battlefields.

P4020011.JPG

Vimy Monument [Desktop Resolution].JPG

Edited by muckaroon1960

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Riviting story of a young man's heroic sacrifice, gleaned from the edge of a quite common medal. Thanks to the Olde family of Cornwall, and thanks to you for sharing the story. 

The memorial is breath-taking. I've never seen it before. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the view from the memorial across the plains of Douai. The Statue is called "Canada Bereft" who mourns the loss of all Canadian soldiers killed in WW1.

Vimy (2) - Copy.JPG

Vimy Monument (3) - Copy.JPG

The remains of the battle field which has been preserved.

Vimy trench (2).JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a coincidence!  I was at a 'launch' for my recent book last evening - on 'Local Boys' from my area - and one of the guests had a granfather who fought with the 4th Battalion.  None of the men who enlisted here in the 157th Bttn saw action as 'Simcoe Foresters' because 2/3s of the Cdn units were broken up on reaching France and re-assigned.  Many of them went to the 4th and 19th Bttns, both titled 'Central Ontario'.

I was able to establish that this lady's granfer reached the 4th on July 17th, 1917 and on August 17th, while attacking Hill 70, was hit by a piece of shrapnel.  It actually lodged in his right breast pocket!  But, it also gave him a 3" scar and did enough damage to his lungs that after 7 months in hospitals in England and France he was invalaided out and sent  home.  His grand daughter, who remembers him, said he would hide in the basement omn remembrance day and never ever spoke of the War. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rebecca   

I saw your post about James Olde and had to sign up to reply.  First let me thank you for posting the photo of Jim's Victory Medal.  I didn't know it still exsisted! I am a distant cousin of his and still live in the area where he lived when he came to Canada.  I have heard bits about Jim over the years, but it has really been in more recent years that WW I info has become easier to find.  Vimy Ridge is looked upon as a defining battle for Canada and my Aunt and I have been trying to gather info in the hopes of putting something together about him.  I think that you would probably already have the info about Jim from Veteran's Affairs, but I'll attach a newspaper clipping that you might not have (sorry about the quality of the scan) and a photo of his grave :

  

Scan.jpeg

IMG_0962.JPG

Edited by Rebecca

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Rebecca, thank you for the update on this post. I bought the medal some years ago as I have an interest in WW1 hence my visit to France and Belgium and especially Vimy Ridge. At the time of my visit the memorial was closed as it was being renovated before the Queen officially rededicated the memorial on the 90th anniversary of the battle, however a bit of Herras fencing wasn't going to stop us seeing the memorial in all its splendour until that is the Canadian caretaker threw us out!!! But we still got to visit the memorial and the battle field. We did the same at Thiepval as that was also undergoing renovations. Its great to put a picture to the owner of the medal, I say owner as all these named medals do belong to their original recipients in my view. I'm just its custodian for now. The medal has pride of place in my collection and is framed along with a Canadian cap badge and a 4th infantry lapel badge. Its good to be able to pass on James' story as well to others especially as he was born in England and at Boscastle which itself was in the news some years ago due to flash flooding almost wiping the place off the face of the earth, thankfully with no loss of life which is more than can be said for the Battle at Vimy and all previous efforts by the French and British to dislodge the Germans from there before the Canadian Infantry performed their heroic deed with James Stone Olde playing his part but which cost him his life. Lest We Forget all those killed and wounded at Vimy Ridge whatever their nationality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rebecca   

Yeah, we're a little protective of Vimy.  That being said, I would have probably been looking for a way in too!  I understand what you mean about ownership of medals, my husband's UN medals and CD are an incredible accomplishment that I'm very proud of him for earning and some day I will look after them, but they will never be mine.  I am very glad to hear that Jim's medal has landed in the hands of someone like you who is taking such good care of it and who thinks of him and all of the WW I casualties.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rebecca

I'm sure you know that a bit of information on James Olde is already available on line at the Archives in Ottawa - enlistment papers and the war diaries of his unit.  The Archives are also in the process of digitizing the complete service records of all 660,000 members of the CEF.  For the last 8 weeks or so the 'count' so to speak has been stalled at A - McLLeland but they should be through the 'Mc's this summer, I'd guess and 'Olde' will appear in due course.

'Complete' service record means, typically, copies of the attestion papers, all the pay records and medical notes and reports plus at least one and sometimes two small cards which list every unit with which the man served, their locations ad the dates when they joined and left each.  That last is invluable for marrying up the unit records such as the war diary with the man's service.

I hope this all is of some use to you.  Thank you for sharing the clipping on your relative!

Peter Monahan

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rebecca   

Thank you Peter, I actually had just checked on the progress the Archilves were making last week.  I was hoping they'd get to him before the 100th anniversary of Vimy, but I know they'll get to him eventually.  My aunt went to France last year and visited his grave so that was nice.  Some day I'll make it there myself!  

 

Thank you for your reply, I will be keeping an eye on the Archives.

 

Rebecca 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Rebecca said:

Thank you Peter, I actually had just checked on the progress the Archilves were making last week.  I was hoping they'd get to him before the 100th anniversary of Vimy, but I know they'll get to him eventually.  My aunt went to France last year and visited his grave so that was nice.  Some day I'll make it there myself!  

 

Thank you for your reply, I will be keeping an eye on the Archives.

 

Rebecca 

Worth the trip if you can go. Lots to see there as well as Passchendaele, Ypres and the Somme. The Vimy Memorial itself is quite stunning and very moving also.

 

Edited by muckaroon1960

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 4th, his unit, were in the 1st Cdn Infty Bde with the 1, 2 & 3rd Bttns.  Initially in reserve, the went into action at about 9:30 a.m. around Thelus and had 43 KIA, 130 WIA by the end of the day.  The war diary has the complete 8-10pg plan for the assault and a literally minute by minute narrative which runs 6-8 typed pages.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rebecca   
16 hours ago, peter monahan said:

The 4th, his unit, were in the 1st Cdn Infty Bde with the 1, 2 & 3rd Bttns.  Initially in reserve, the went into action at about 9:30 a.m. around Thelus and had 43 KIA, 130 WIA by the end of the day.  The war diary has the complete 8-10pg plan for the assault and a literally minute by minute narrative which runs 6-8 typed pages.   

Peter was able to provide us with lots of really helpful information.  I've thanked him in email, but would like to publicly acknowledge my appreciation for his time and effort. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rebecca   

Hello again, I thought I would pass along that in the past few days Jim's military record was posted on the Archives' website.  Unfortunately the forum won't let me share the file here, but it is easy to find or I can email it if you want. I glanced through his record, but will read it more in depth in a couple of days.  Most surprising to me so far is how short he was compared to his Canadian cousins ;) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andy Robertshaw, who used to be the Education co-ordinator at the Imperial War Museum [London] comes to Canada annually now and I've been able to see him the last two years.  Last fall he showed students a slide show on the WWI trenches and one shot shows a bunch of 1918 recruits: average height 5'1", average weight probably 95 pounds, and all look 15 years old.  They are simply the result of 2-3 generations of urban poverty and what was left to recruit by that late in the war.  The Canadians and Aussies, at least those born there, were valued not just for their 'fighting spirit' but because most were farm boys and well nourished.  This, of course, dicounts the 48% of the CEF who were actually British Born but even they would likely have bben betterb fed here as young men than in some mining town in Wales or Yorkshire or a factory slum in Manchester or London.  I believe that the average Cdn recruit had two inches on the average British soldier and probably 20-30 pounds in weight.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rebecca   

That does make sense Peter.  Jim came to Canada in 1912, I'm assuming after his mother died that same year.  He was still young enough to have some growing left.  The Olde's were farmers in Cornwall, but there just wasn't enough land for everyone which is why Jim's Uncle Tom (my Great Great Grandfather) decided to try his luck on this side of the Pond. They may have eaten better than their urban countrymen, but probably were not quite as well off as their Canadian cousins. Things were of course extremely difficult for Tom when he first arrived and there are stories of very lean times, but by 1912 the family was certainly still working hard, but eating proper meals.  Knowing the farm that Jim worked on over here I can see how he would have put on muscle -- it's rich, heavy soil and not at all easy to work. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, farm work was all by hand back then, but well fed.  A lot of young Brits came over as teens, young men or even boys if they were part of the Barnardo scheme, and most would have wound up on farms.  Something like 80% plus of the population was rural.  In a very unscientific sampling, 4 of the 70 men from my towen who died were Barnardp boys and those are the men well enough known to be on the emorials, so the % would have been higher.  But, even by the end of the war, 'British born' men were 48% of thge CEF.  One reason the ages were not as young as people assume: over 30 in fact.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×