My Granny never met her father, she was born December 9th, 1915. He enlisted in the army on February 8, 1915 and was killed on April 9, 1917 during an attack on the enemies position on Thelus, by shell fire during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He was laid to rest at the Nine Elms Military cemetary in Pas de Calais, France.
Until yesterday all I have ever known about my Great Grandfather was his name, William Andrew Ross was that he was in the 27th Battalion, in the Manitoba Regiment and that he died during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. I know he was killed during Vimy Ridge because my Granny told me. I know he was part of the Manitoba regiment because of the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.
But yesterday, while doing a bit of online research about the Manitoba Company I came across this site and I learned so much more about my Granny’s Father.
The 27th Battalion was part of the 2nd of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and they left for Europe on May 17, 1915. I assume that was around when the above photo was taken, and my Great Grandmother Annie Ross was just a few months pregnant with my Granny.
The battalion landed in France on September 18, 1915.
When I watch any historical shows about World War 1 and I hear the Manitoba Regiment mentioned, they are always in the thick of it and I always hear that they took horrific numbers of casualties. This was the regiment that my Great Grandfather was in.
Thanks to this new site I now know that William Ross was a carpenter, and also a member of the North West Mounted Police. I know the date of his enlistment and how he was killed. Thanks to the Canadian War Graves commission’s site that he was moved to Nine Elms from another grave, most likely closer to where he fell, hopefully he wasn’t left on the battlefield, or given a battlefield grave, as so many were. I like to hope that his friends were able to bury him close to his other fallen comrades. But I know that the 27th Battalion took so many casualties during that battle that I’m afraid he was just left where he fell.
I have studied the 2 existing photos that we have of William Alexander Ross, and I have found some familial resemblances. My Granny has so much of him in her, there is one photo in particular where Granny is on the ski slopes with my aunt Robin and the expression in my Granny’s face is so reminiscent of her father. The single, lone dimple that displays itself when we laugh or smile, only on one side of our face, that comes from William Ross. My Granny has it, my daughter has it, my son has it and I have it.
This year marks that 100th Anniversary of the start of World War I, the Great War, the War to End All Wars. At the end of the Great War people couldn’t believe that something like that could happen again. Imagine the sorrow they must have felt 2 decades later when their sons were preparing themselves to march off to fight in another World War.
Today is a day to remember and honour those that fell. Those that marched off to war to the beat of the drums, pipes and horns. Those that showed a brave face while all the time on the inside they felt the despair and fear that all must feel when they march off into an area of armed conflict. I recently watched a documentary called Apocalypse: World War 1 which used restored archival footage from World War I and presented in such a way that didn’t glorify war, it didn’t preach about the evil of war, it just showed you the faces of war.
If you get the chance to watch this documentary, I suggest you do because it’s very informational about what leads up to the war. None of that sentiment that Europe was the midst of a happy, golden age where everyone was dancing and dining, living and loving until the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, when suddenly all hell broke loose. It shows that Europe was a powder keg, ready to blow and the assassination was just a spark, not the moment that started a war from nothing as is always portrayed.
Today is a day to remember those that fell, to honour them and think about the sacrifices that they made. Sacrifices that I think we should be grateful for. No matter what your feelings about war are, today is a day that we should all take a moment, bow our heads and show our respect to those who fell and never came home again.
“Lest We Forget”