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Thread: When I was on the Great War battlefields recently......

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  1. #21
    Advisory Panel Surpmil's Avatar
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    I see there is some further info on the real Alex McRae here.



    He enlisted the same day in Pincher Creek with No.118088 Kenneth McRae, apparently no relation, but who knows? Kenneth went on to become a CSM with the DCM, MM and bar, DoW, 29th of Sept. 1918. Friends and relations often enlisted together and Pincher Creek was little more than a village then. Probably they went there together to get into the 13 CMR rather than some other unit.

    There's no trace of 118087 Alex McRae in the usual records online, except that he was probably living in Toronto in 1912 and working at a firm of plumbers and gas fitters. This would probably be when he was in the 48th Highlanders who are a Toronto militia regiment to this day.

    Looks like he may have been concealing his real date and place of birth. Not so uncommon in those days when family problems were to be hidden at all costs.

    There's practically nothing on his brother Angus either and no sign of his parents either.
    Last edited by Surpmil; 10-02-2018 at 12:43 AM.
    "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." W.L.S.C..

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  3. #22
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    Roger Payne's Avatar
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    The walls of the tunnel system are absolutely smothered in graffiti written by Britishicon & Dominion troops, but as mentioned when I started the thread a disproportionate amount seems to be Canadianicon. I don't know but it's likely that Canadian units must have been billeted in the vicinity when not in the line. (Or do you guys just like writing on walls?!?) The village is three or four miles behind the front line as it would have been in late summer/early autumn 1916. There are dates shown with a few, the ones I noticed being around August to October 1916, IIRC. At around this time the Canadian infantry were sustaining heavy losses, but gaining many plaudits for their success, in the taking of Courcelette, Destremont Farm, Regina Trench & thereabouts.

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  5. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Payneicon View Post
    Or do you guys just like writing on walls
    I think it was just the thought that so many had disappeared into anonymity and they wanted to leave a mark "I was here"... Some survived, some didn't. I saw the expose' on the dugouts and names carved and written in the chalk too...every unit known or thought of could be identified at a glance.
    Regards, Jim

  6. #24
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    Roger,
    The scribbling of soldiers is timeless, and most likely, having contributed myself in some of the shitholes of the worlds, a way of informing those that follow that, "our" unit was there before them.
    In many of these special locations nevertheless, they are poems and odes and the names of those that knew the "writing was on the wall" which is where it came from WW1, that they were unlikely to survive.
    God bless them all.......................Lest We Forget!
    'Tonight my men and I have been through hell and back again, but the look on your faces when we let you out of the hall - we'd do it all again tomorrow.' Major Chris Keeble's words to Goose Green villagers on 29th May 1982 - 2 PARA

  7. #25
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    Thanks chaps.......yes, the question was posed tongue in cheek. As an aside, I recently invested in a 'Linesman 2 Go' & whilst I was over there last week I managed to get to within a couple of hundred meters of where I believe my grandfather fell on 1st November 1916 (only the fact that the field was planted prevented me getting any closer). The software is a great advance over just trotting about the fields with an IGN map. It uses a Samsung padlet pre-loaded with a total of 800 trench maps & you can then lock the GPS onto the map on current view to show your precise position in relation to a trench or other WW1 feature. It works in real time so you can 'walk yourself onto' a trench. The marvels of modern science! I will return over the coming winter to try & reach the spot & have a few contemplative moments 'with him'.

    ATB
    Last edited by Roger Payne; 10-02-2018 at 01:37 PM.

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  9. #26
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    Roger,
    Take a small Britishicon Legion wooden cross with you so it can be a remembrance for you personally, but also be ploughed back into the land where he fell, which I have done many times in jungle locations and sandy ones too for GRAVEWATCH!
    'Tonight my men and I have been through hell and back again, but the look on your faces when we let you out of the hall - we'd do it all again tomorrow.' Major Chris Keeble's words to Goose Green villagers on 29th May 1982 - 2 PARA

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gil Boyd View Post
    Roger,
    The scribbling of soldiers is timeless, and most likely, having contributed myself in some of the shitholes of the worlds, a way of informing those that follow that, "our" unit was there before them
    I take it as a former Para that your musings were scribbled in Crayon Gil?

    Think I'll retreat to the Sangar now and await the inevitable incoming rounds.

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  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Payneicon View Post
    The software is a great advance over just trotting about the fields with an IGN map.
    That's a fact!

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Payne View Post
    I will return over the coming winter to try & reach the spot & have a few contemplative moments 'with him'.
    That's going to be very eerie for you when you crouch down where he was...wait for it...and the silence.
    Regards, Jim

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  15. #29
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    Simon,
    You are very hurtful.................we were only issued crayons with the colouring books, and those who could do joined up writing like me were allowed to have felt tipped pens
    'Tonight my men and I have been through hell and back again, but the look on your faces when we let you out of the hall - we'd do it all again tomorrow.' Major Chris Keeble's words to Goose Green villagers on 29th May 1982 - 2 PARA

  16. #30
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    Yes, Jim, it's strange I know, but I sort of feel at home & at peace out there, & never alone! I like to visit the cemeteries generally, & try to sign the visitors' register as far as possible. I think it matters - they do get looked at & it shows that people still care. There are one or two cemeteries that draw me especially though, one being Dantzig Alley at Mametz, where Captain Charlie May of 22nd Manchesters is buried. His letters home to his wife are some of the most moving I've ever seen & even now reduce me to tears when I read them. There is an excellent book about his life & service, called 'To Fight Alongside Friends', although I can't remember the name of the author off the top of my head. If anyone wants a good WW1 read I'd recommend it. It should be easy enough to find on google or similar.

    Addendum: To Fight Alongside Friends: The First World War Diaries of Charlie May. Edited by Gerry Harrison.
    Last edited by Roger Payne; 10-03-2018 at 02:56 PM.

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