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

Everett Elmer Hickerson signature

Everett Elmer Hickerson, a tailor, signed up in Belleville on this day in 1917. He was born in Deseronto on April 17th, 1897, the son of William Hickerson and Elizabeth (née Burley). When he enlisted, he was living in Trenton.

Hickerson joined the 235th Battalion with the regimental number 1027660. He was five feet two and a half inches tall, with a dark complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair. His service record shows that he arrived in England on the SS Megantic on May 14th, 1917 and was sent to France on March 16th, 1918 with the 15th Battalion. He suffered mustard gas burns on August 22nd and was sent to England to recuperate.

Everett left England for Canada on January 16th, 1919 and was demobilized in Kingston on January 28th. He married Carrie Ann Wellman in Trenton on September 26th, 1923 and died in Kingston on January 10th, 1950.

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.

Clare William Malley signature

Clare William Malley, a drug clerk, signed up in Kingston, Ontario on this day in 1917. He was born in Deseronto on August 18th, 1895, the eldest child of William James Malley and Ada (née Moodie). His younger brother Arthur had signed up in April 1916. Clare had previously served in the 34th Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery (CFA).

Malley joined the 73rd Battery of the CFA with the regimental number 343972. He was six feet tall, with a dark complexion, black eyes and black hair. His unit travelled to England on the RMS Olympic, arriving on May 7th, 1917.

He survived the war and married Elizabeth Laughlin on 26 July 1926 in Belleville, when he was still working as a druggist in Deseronto. He died in 1963 and was buried in Deseronto Cemetery. Elizabeth lived until 1996 and was also buried in Deseronto.

Cornelius Dowling signature

On this day in 1917 Cornelius Edward Dowling signed up in Winnipeg. He was born Richmond Township near Deseronto on November 3rd, 1889, the son of Robert Dowling and Mary (née Roach). When he enlisted, he was living in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and working as a bank clerk.

Cornelius joined the 174th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force with the regimental number 693330. He was five feet seven and a quarter inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. On April 22nd he was transferred to the 79th Cameron Highlanders of Canada, where he was appointed Quartermaster Sergeant on May 13th, according to his service record. He fell ill in September 1917 and was admitted to Winnipeg General Hospital on December 3rd, 1917 with chronic appendicitis. His appendix was removed in St. Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg, in January 1918 and he was released from hospital on February 22nd.

Dowling was discharged from the army on July 31st, 1918 as “medically unfit for further war service”. His intended address after discharge was 287 Redwood Avenue, Winnipeg. Dowling married Margaret Ellen Cusick in Thunder Bay (Port Arthur) on October 31st, 1927, at which time he was working as an insurance agent. Margaret died in Thunder Bay in 1937 and was buried in the Roman Catholic section of Deseronto Cemetery. Cornelius was buried there in 1962.

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

Albert Arthur Johnson signature

Albert Arthur Johnson, a yardmaster, signed up in Ottawa on this day in 1917. He was born in Deseronto on October 2nd, 1891, the son of Samuel Johnson and Clarissa (née Hadley). When he enlisted, his home address was 262 George Street, Toronto.

Albert joined the No. 1 Section Skilled Railway Employees with the regimental number 2124812. He was five feet eight inches tall, with a dark complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. Johnson’s unit left Halifax on the SS Ausonia in March 1917 and arrived in England on March 15th. It was redesignated as the 12th (Canadian) Light Railway Operating Company, Royal Engineers on March 16th and No. 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company (Canadians) Royal Engineers on April 7th, 1917. It arrived in France on April 19th, 1917, where it worked to transport troops and supplies behind the lines. The unit was disbanded on April 19th, 1919 in Knotty Ash, England.

Johnson’s service record shows that he travelled back to Canada on the RMS Aquitania in May 1919 and was demobilized in Toronto on May 27th. He married Ruby May Greenwood in Port Colborne on February 11th, 1922. He was still working on the railway: as a conductor. A note on his service file records that he died on November 21st, 1972.