Great War commemorations continue at the BCHS
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.”