First World War
& St. Andrew's College Part III
By Percy J. Robinson
Our own forces on the western front had repelled successfully the third German assault on Ypres, and early in June at Zillebeke [Private] W. D. Williams and Lieutenant M. E. Malone were killed. [War Diary excerpt] The death of Lieut Malone, so affectionately known to several generations of Old Boys, was deeply lamented by all. It was at Zillebeke, too that Lieut. Hugh Macdonald was wounded, and was so gallantly aided by Donald Chase. Casualties in Flanders in the Spring of 1916 were over 15,000. Many of our boys fought at St. Eloi in April, at Sanctuary Wood June 2nd, and at Hooge June 6th.
But all these engagements were insignificant compared with the great battle of the Somme which, beginning on July 1st, continued till November 13th, with stupendous losses to the enemy. The battle proved a veritable shambles, and our losses were enormous. Major McClinton, one of our own boys, reports that about eighty out of five hundred in his division were mustered after a successful attack. Lieutenant E. R. Winter, [Private] J. S. Taylor, Lieutenant G. A. Snow, Lieutenant Geo Nation, Captain G. E. Blake, Lieutenant H. V. Wrong, Lieutenant Alan Oliver, among others, lost their lives in this long struggle, while many Old Boys were wounded. Lieutenant Oliver had distinguished himself at McGill and had been the editor of the McGill daily. Harold Wrong was at the outbreak of war an undergraduate of Christ Church, Oxford, and his name appears in the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of literature as a composer of verse. Taylor, who lost his life in this battle, had a remarkable escape from death in the great fire at Porcupine. Numerous military honours were awarded the survivors of these terrible conflicts.
Among others who fill in this year, Lieutenant Clarence Rogers of the Royal Air Force, must not be unmentioned. He was regarded as among the most expert of aviators, and had passed first in flying tests before leaving England. He succumbed in a conflict on June 18. It was the battle of the Somme which determined the British Government to develop still further the air service, and this resolution led to the establishment in Canada of the Royal Air Force in which so many of our boys enlisted. St. Andrew's boys, like other Canadians, proved themselves exceptionally fitted for this branch of the service. One has only to recall the exploits of Murray Galbraith, Brooke Bell, May, Smith and a great many others to prove that in this branch of the service a high standard of excellence was attained. The splendid record of the Canadians was maintained all through the long campaign of the Somme, and many of our Old Boys took part in the engagements at Mouquest Farm, Courcelette, Fabeck Graben, Zollern Graben, Zollern, Hessian, and Kenora Trenches, Regina Trench, and Desire Trench.
On August 27 Romania entered
the struggle on the side of the Allies, encouraged by the success of the
Russian offensive, the successful resistance of the French at Verdun, the
great promise of the early stages of the Somme battle and the initial success
of the Italian operations against Gorizia. Romania was doomed to bear
alone the full weight of the Teutonic assault, and before the end of the
year had gone down to irretrievable defeat. The year 1916 was a year of
high hopes for the Allies and of great but costly achievements in attack
on the Somme front and in defense at Verdun. About 500 Andreans were now
on active service, twenty had been killed and ninety-two wounded. It is
of note that in this year the first trench raid was organized by an old
Andrean, Major Kilmer,
who received the D.S.O.
[Distinguished Service Order].; that Jas. Gerry Burk was among the first British
prisoners to escape from Germany; that our boys were participants in all
the actions of this year,
Bell being killed while leading the charge at Courcelette September
15th, and Lieutenant Harry G. Leonard being decorated for gallantry
at St. Eloi in April. On St. Andrew's Day the school was honoured by a
visit from His Excellency the Duke of Devonshire.