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Canadian MGC "Vimy" Fatality

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Whilst checking the web for information on Chollerton, Northumberland in connection with a grouping of photos which I've had for some years I found information concerning one of the men featured in the photos.

The back of the card bears the hand written details "Sgt. A Surtees 435662 2nd Canadians Killed May 4th 1917"

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This web site "6th Brigade Canadian Machine Gun Company & 2nd Battalion Canadian Machine Gun Corps Personnel Database" contains the following inforamation on Sgt Surtees, and ex Northumberland Fusilier.


Obviously, the edate of enlistment is wrong as he had been killed the previous year.

Surtees, Andrew, 435662, Sergeant (1890-1917)

Andrew Surtees was born on 4 March 1890 at Chollerton, Northumberland, England, son of Thomas and Isabella Surtees. He enlisted in the 50th Battalion at Calgary, Alberta on 30 August 1918. He was working as a mason and stated that he had served in the territorial force of the 4th Northumberland Fusiliers from 1909 to 1912. He showed his next-of-kin as his father, then living at Wheat Hill, Colwell, Barrasford, Northumberland.

An Operation Order dated 8 April 1917 and attached to the 6th Bde. CMG Coy. War Diary contains the following: "Sixteen men already detailed under Sgt Surtees will form first reinforcements. Sixteen men under Corporal Bierd will form Divisional Reserve. Separate instructions will be issued as to time and place where above parties will report." These were part of the preparations for the attack on Vimy Ridge, which was due to take place on the following day.

Sergeant Surtees was killed on 3 May 1917, a day during which the company supported an infantry attack, part of the Battle of Fresnoy. The following is an extract from the War Diary for that day: "Weather fine. Company took part in attack as follows. 2 Mobile guns under Lt. Dickie moved forward with the 27th Bn. 2 guns under Lt Waddington moved forward with the 31st Bn. 4 Guns under Lts Carter and Wallbridge were in Reserve at Vancouver Road T28. 8 Barrage guns under Lts Hardiman and Williams kept up indirect fire in accordance with Corps Scheme. Lts Carter and Wallbridge took up two fresh gun crews owing to Casualties and damages and rearranged section. Lt Carter did exceptionally fine work. Sgt A. Surtees was killed." He was initially buried in one of two cemeteries used by the Second Canadian Division in May 1917; the first (2nd Cdn Div Cemetery, Willerval) was midway between Vimy and Acheville, the second (Willerval Canadian Cemetery/Vancouver Road Cemetery) midway between Vimy and Fresnoy. The graves from these two cemeteries were later transferred after the Armistice to the Orchard Dump Cemetery, at Arleux-en-Gohelle. Andrew Surtees' grave is therefore now at the Orchard Dump Cemetery (Ref. III.A.22).

Edited by leigh kitchen
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Another photograph of Andrew Surtees, taken while he was a member of the 4th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers 1909 - 1912, if the information he has given upon enlistment into the Canadian army is correct.

The back of the photo bears "R. Compton A. Surtees & a nurse, looking after Richie Surtees just before he died"

A check of "ancestry" for Richie Surtees date of death may narrow the date of the photo down.

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Commonwealth War Graves Commisssion details:


Initials: A

Nationality: Canadian

Rank: Sergeant

Regiment/Service: Canadian Machine Gun Corps

Unit Text: 2nd Div.

Age: 27

Date of Death: 03/05/1917

Service No: 435662

Additional information: Son of Thomas and Isabella Surtees, of Colwell, Barrasford, Northumberland, England.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: III. A. 22.


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Country: France

Locality: unspecified

Visiting Information: Wheelchair access with some difficulty. For further information regarding wheelchair access, please contact our Enquiries Section on telephone number 01628 507200.

Location Information: Arleux-en-Gohelle is a village on the main Arras to Henin-Lietard road, the D919. The Cemetery lies on the left side of this road approximately 1 kilometre from the village of Bailleul-Sire-Berthoult.

Historical Information: The cemetery was begun in April, 1917, on the new front resulting from the Battles of Arras, and it was used by the units holding that front until the following November. These original burials are in Plot VI, Row K, and Plot I, Rows A to F. The cemetery was greatly enlarged after the Armistice by the concentration of graves from the neighbouring battlefields and from other burial grounds. During the 1939-45 War, No.2 Casualty Clearing Station was at Rouvroy, three kilometres north-east of Arleux, and the cemetery was used again. There are over 3,000, 1914-18 and 20, 1939-45 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, more than four-fifths from the 1914-18 War, are unidentified and special memorials are erected to ten soldiers from the United Kingdom and four from Canada known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials record the names of 38 Canadian soldiers and six from the United Kingdom, buried in other cemeteries, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. Certain graves in Plots VII, VIII and IX, identified collectively but not individually, are marked by headstones bearing the additional words "Buried near this spot.". The cemetery covers an area of 9,402 square metres and is enclosed by rubble walls on three sides. A tablet in the cemetery records the fact that the site was given by the widow of a Captain in the French 72nd Infantry Regiment, killed in action in August, 1914. The following were among the burial grounds from which British graves were removed to Orchard Dump Cemetery:- FRESNES-LES-MONTAUBAN COMMUNAL CEMETERY, in which five soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried by the 26th Field Ambulance in October, 1918. FRESNOY CHURCHYARD, between Lens and Arras, where an R.F.C. officer was buried by the enemy in March, 1917. FUSILIERS CEMETERY, BAILLEUL-SIRE-BERTHOULT, 800 metres South-West of the village beside the railway line, where eleven men of the Northumberland Fusiliers, four of the Royal Fusiliers and one Royal Marine were buried by the 63rd Division in April and May, 1917. OUSE ALLEY CEMETERY, BAILLEUL-SIRE-BERTHOULT, about 1 kilometre North-East of the village, where 38 officers and men from the United Kingdom were buried by their comrades in June, 1917-February, 1918. QUIERY-LA-MOTTE BRITISH CEMETERY, 800 metres North-West of La Motte, where 27 soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried by the 2nd East Lancs and other units in October, 1918. 2ND CANADIAN DIVISION CEMETERY, WILLERVAL, midway between Vimy and Acheville, where 16 Canadian soldiers were buried by the 2nd Canadian Division in May, 1917. WILLERVAL CANADIAN CEMETERY (or VANCOUVER ROAD CEMETERY) made by the 2nd Canadian Division in May, 1917, and containing the graves of 34 Canadian soldiers. It stood about midway between Vimy and Fresnoy. WILLERVAL CHURCHYARD, where four men of the 3rd Canadian Battalion were buried in April and May, 1917.

No. of Identified Casualties: 756

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Andrew Surtee's Attestation Papers:

Born Chollerton, Northumberland, England,

Next of Kin his father, Thomas Surtees of Wheat Hill, Colwell (?), Northumberland, England,

Andrew was born 4th March 1890,

Trade - a mason,


Previous service with the 4th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (a Territorial Force Battalion), 1909 - 1912, I can't make out the two words at the beginning of this entry.

He signed up at Calgary.

Interesting that there's no requirement for his current address on the form.

Edited by leigh kitchen
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Page 2:

Apparent age 25 years & 5 months,

Height feet 10 3/4 inches,

Chest measurements 39 1/2 inches fully expanded, range of expansion 3 1/2 inches,

Fair complexion,

Hazel eyes,

Brown hair, Religion Church of England.

Signed off on 24th August 1915 as being fit for service with the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force.

The Commanding Officer of 50th (?) Battalion CEF inspected Surtees & gave final approval to his attestation on 15th October 1915.

Edited by leigh kitchen
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