war dead

Harold McAfee signatureOn this day in 1917, Harold McAfee died of pneumonia at Queen Mary’s Royal Naval Hospital in Southend, Essex, England. The hospital was a wartime conversion of the Palace Hotel building in Southend.

Palace Hotel, Southend

The Palace Hotel in Southend, from Flickr user Jim Linwood

McAfee was buried in the Sutton Road Cemetery in Southend.

Harold McAfee's gravestone

Harold McAfee’s gravestone, from the Find A Grave site

The Chaplain of the York Road Wesleyan Methodist Church in Southend wrote a letter to Mrs McAfee, a copy of which was donated to the Deseronto Archives: Letter from Arhtur S. Lyne to Mrs McAfee

March 16th, 1917

Dear Mrs. McAfee:-

I have this morning officiated at the interment of your son Harold, who as you will have been informed passed away on Sunday last at Queen Mary’s Hospital here. he was interred as a Methodist and hence I was able to see him in the Hospital and asked to conduct his funeral. I had a chat with him some two weeks ago, when he spoke to me of home and you. At that time his illness was not regarded as serious. The Anglican Chaplain who lives close to the hospital was called in on Sunday and I believe will be writing to you direct. But I understand that Harold received the Lord’s supper on Sunday, gratefully and humbly; and that he died trusting in his Saviour. All of us who are connected with the hospital feel very deeply for you and the rest of his family. One young Canadian soldier who told me he was Harold’s nephew and was present at the grave-side. From him you will also probably hear. All that could be done, was done for him, the hospital is a lovely place, and the nursing staff, kindness itself. The funeral was a military one, the body being carried on a gun carriage with the old flag over it, and a lovely wreath from the hospital. A body of troops followed and the salute was fired over the grave; and the last post sounded by the buglers. With deep sympathy believe me

Yours very sincerely

Arthur S. Lyne

Wesleyan Methodist Chaplain

He is also remembered on the Deseronto war memorial.

Deseronto memorial


And on the cenotaph in Napanee.

Napanee cenotaph, east side

James Nelson Barnhardt signature

James Nelson Barnhardt had enlisted in Midland on February 5th, 1916. He had been transferred to the 1st Battalion and was serving with them in France when he died as the result of being accidentally wounded:

James Nelson Barnhardt casualty report extract

Circumstances of casualty for James Nelson Barnhardt, courtesy of Library and Archives Canada

“Died of Wounds” (Gunshot Wound Chest, Accidental)
Private Barnhardt was wounded by a bullet from the rifle of a comrade, who discharged his rifle accidentally while cleaning it. He was evacuated to No.22 Casualty Clearing Station where he died two days later.

Barnhardt was buried in the Bruay Communal Cemetery Extension.

Image courtesy of Findagrave.com

He is also remembered on the Deseronto memorial.

Deseronto memorial

Wheeler Maracle signature

On this day in 1917 Wheeler Maracle was reported missing and later presumed to have died in a military operation of the 50th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Vimy Ridge. The unit’s war diary describes the twenty-minute engagement and notes that five men were missing after the action.

50th Battalion war diary for February 3rd 1917


1917, 3 Feby

9PM. with intense bombardment on enemys front line
Raiding Parties reached enemys front line at 9.04PM.
Barrage lifted to enemys second line at 9.04PM.

Each party successful in their allotted task.
Estimated number of enemy killed & wounded 100
Number of prisoners brought in 7

1 officer (LIEUT W.L. COOK) missing believed killed. 4 other ranks missing believed killed. 1 other rank killed. 3 officers (LIEUTS A.S. MACULLOCH, A.M. SUTHERLAND and S.A. MOORE) wounded and 34 other ranks wounded

Approximately 24 Dug outs, 8 Sniper posts, 5 Machine Gun emplacements, 2 Saps, 2 trench junctions and one mineshafts

During whole operation enemy shelled his own front line.
Identifications showed that the 16th & 17th Bavarians were opposing.

Twenty minutes

Wheeler’s body was not recovered: he is remembered on the Vimy Memorial and in Deseronto.

Deseronto memorial

On this day in 1917 Ross Markle was killed during the Calonne trench raid near Bully-Grenay in France. The war diary of the 20th Battalion describes this operation, in which 27 men from the unit died: page 1; page 2; page 3; page 4.You can read more about this raid in this article by Andrew B. Godefroy. Ross Markle’s older brother, Andrew, survived the battle.

Ross was buried in the Maroc British Cemetery in Grenay.

John Henry Maracle signature
On this day in 1917, John Henry Maracle was killed by an enemy rifle bullet while cleaning his own rifle at the front line near Vimy, France. He had joined the 44th Battalion at the front line one month earlier, on December 12th, 1916.
Canada War Graves Registers (Circumstances of Casualty) 1914-1948 For John Maracle
The war diary for the days leading up to Maracle’s death show that deaths at the front line were a daily occurrence for the battalion.
War diary entry for John Henry Maracle's death
John was buried in the Villers Station cemetery. He is remembered on the Deseronto war memorial. His widow, Harriet, died on February 3rd, 1918.
Deseronto memorial

Gilbert Dionne signatureOn this day in 1916 Gilbert Dionne died in No. 12 Canadian General Hospital in Bramshott, England nine hours after an operation to repair a perforated duodenal ulcer. He had made an army will five weeks before his death, just before he left Canada, in which he left all his possessions to his wife, Evelyn.

Gilbert Dionne's will, from his service record at Library and Archives Canada

Gilbert Dionne’s will, from his service record at Library and Archives Canada

In addition to his will, Dionne’s service file at Library and Archives Canada also contains a description of his funeral, signed by Lieutenant Vincent James Lynch on behalf of the commanding officer of the 157th Battalion:

Description of the funeral of Gilbert Dionne

Funeral: The funeral of the deceased took place from the Hospital Morgue at 2.00 p.m. the 20th. six of his own friends acted as pall-bearers, firing party from his own platoon, and the whole of “C” Company, Officers and other ranks, and three Staff Officers formed an escort in taking the remains to the Cemetry. He was buried in the corner of a little enclosure of ground about the Convent, near Grayshott.

Two Roman Catholic Chaplains conducted the burial service, and a little white wooden cross with name, rank, number and Battalion marks the grave.

Later, the wooden cross described by Lieutenant Lynch was replaced by a War Graves Commission headstone in the St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Grayshott, Hampshire, England.

Photo courtesy of Findagrave.com (uploaded by Don Knibbs)

Guy Provins signature

Photograph of Guy Provins

Guy Provins (image from the Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

On this day in 1916, Guy Provins was killed in the trenches at Courcelette during the Battle of the Ancre Heights (part of the Battle of the Somme). It was his nineteenth birthday. A letter from Provins was published in the Deseronto Post alongside the report of his death.

Letter from Guy Provins

“Somewhere in France”

October 7th, 1916

Dear Mother and Sister:-

I just received your letter to-day and was glad to hear from you. I am well and never felt better in my life though we don’t get half enough to eat. I wish you would send me a box with some cake and eats and also some cigarettes, as my tobacco is all gone. I would have liked to have been home to go to Midland with you, I bet you had a good time.

Well I was in one raid on the Germans but I got back all right. One fellow in the Bombers got a Military Medal for the for the capture of a machine gun and the taking of a couple of German Prisoners all by himself. I am not in the Bombers now, but back with the Company, so you can change my address to C. Co. again.

I have not run across the Deseronto boys yet, but we are moving down where they are, so will likely see some of the boys from home.

Well, I guess that will be all for now as it is pretty near supper time – supper is the biggest meal in the day to us. Write soon.

Your son,


Guy’s body was not found. He is remembered on the Vimy Memorial and in Deseronto.

Deseronto memorial

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