Great War com­mem­o­ra­tions con­tinue at the BCHS

Sherbrooke Record - - BROME COUNTY -

On the 21st of March, 1918, the Ger­mans launched an am­bi­tious of­fen­sive against the Al­lies with whom they had been fight­ing a years­long war of at­tri­tion on the West­ern Front. In­tended to crush the en­emy af­ter so many months of stale­mate and force them to sur­ren­der, the plan re­lied on two es­sen­tial el­e­ments: the in­creased fight­ing power of the Ger­man troops who had re­cently re­turned from the Eastern Front af­ter Rus­sia’s ig­no­ble with­drawal from the war; and the abil­ity of the elite “storm trooper” led Ger­mans to de­liver costly and de­ci­sive vic­to­ries quickly be­fore the ar­riv­ing Amer­i­cans had a chance to flex their mus­cle in favour of the Al­lies.

Well-pre­pared to de­fend their sec­tion of the Front, the Cana­dian Corps were not tar­geted by the Ger­mans dur­ing the of­fen­sive, nor were they tasked with any sig­nif­i­cant com­bat role. Even as two ill­pre­pared Bri­tish armies were all but smashed in early en­emy ad­vances and thou­sands of Bel­gian and French troops were at­tacked, only Canada’s Sec­ond Divi­sion and some se­lected smaller for­ma­tions were called into ac­tion. Through­out the spring and most of the sum­mer, the Cana­di­ans were side­lined.

Be­ing side­lined was no guar­an­tee of safety, how­ever. Even as the Ger­man of­fen­sive fiz­zled out and ul­ti­mately failed, fam­i­lies across Canada con­tin­ued to re­ceive news that their loved ones in uni­form had been killed on the West­ern Front. Two such fam­i­lies were from Brome County, the Elands and the White­heads.

Pri­vate Ed­ward Laws Eland (859381) of the 5th Cana­dian Ma­chine Gun Com­pany was “Killed in Ac­tion” in France on April 3, 1918, leav­ing to mourn his wi­d­owed mother and younger brother. Born in Sut­ton in Jan­uary of 1887, Eland went west as a young man and was farm­ing in Man­i­toba at the time of his en­list­ment in late 1915 with the 179th Bat­tal­ion (Cameron High­landers of Canada). Pri­vate Eland’s body was never re­cov­ered for burial.

Pri­vate Frank Ernest White­head (749069) of the 14th Bat­tal­ion was killed in France on April 19, 1918. The son of Levi White­head, he was born in West Sh­ef­ford in 1894. White­head lived in South Bolton, worked as a team­ster, and served one year in the mili­tia “under Ma­jor Mil­ti­more,” ac­cord­ing to his At­tes­ta­tion. He orig­i­nally en­listed with the 117th Bat­tal­ion, an Eastern Town­ships unit that was dis­man­tled in Eng­land to pro­vide re­place­ment sol­diers to other bat­tal­ions al­ready fight­ing. Pri­vate White­head was buried in the Ro­clin­court Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery be­tween Ar­ras and Lens.

Pri­vates Eland and White­head were the sec­ond and third sol­diers from Brome County to be killed in 1918, the first be­ing Pri­vate Westover of Sut­ton in Fe­bru­ary. Sadly, many more names would be added to the Hon­our Roll by the time of the Ar­mistice on Novem­ber 11.

“Lest We For­get.”

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