3 Boys for Blenheim

3 boys of Blenheim, Ontario did not come home. All of them served with the 18th Battalion and one of the other connections they share is the display of their original grave markers at the Blenheim and District Freedom Library and Museum.

Private James Peter Pegg. Source: Kent Branch of the O.G.S.

This discovery all began with entering the data for Private James Peter Pegg who was listed as being a prisoner of war and subsequently dying of his wounds and being buried by the German Army. The find was made during the research for Private Horace Pegg, also of the 18th, during a search for the Circumstances of Death Registers for Private Horace Pegg’s circumstances of death. This being a manual process, requires one to manually search for the location of the document. As they are stored in alphabetical order Private James Peter Pegg’s C.O.D. register was found as well quite by accident.

Being taken a prisoner of war was unusual and a very rare experience for the men of the 18th Battalion. Private Pegg was taken prisoner and died while under the care of his German captors. He was buried by them and a cross was erected and it was this cross, since put on display at the Blenheim and District Freedom Library and Museum, that was partly responsible for his identification and allowed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to exhume his body and rebury it.

His body was found at the Isegehem Communal Cemetery, German Extension; Plot 3, Row “J”, grave 999 near the Belgium town of Izebem. His body was identified, in part, from his clothing and the cross the Germans erected. On that cross the following inscription: “Englander, James Pegg, 18th Regt.” with 2 dates below the horizontal beam and just above it appears to be a metal rectangle of some fashion, possibly a marker of his regimental number, as the Burial Return does not indicate that an identity disc was used to verify the identity of the body. There is text on other parts of the cross but from this image it is hard to discern.

Close Up of Pegg Cross

Close up of cross erected by the German Army marking Private Pegg’s grave at the Isegehem Communal Cemetery.

 

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Private Pegg’s burial return indicating location where his body was found and the method of identification.

One will notice that from this close up there are an additional 2 other crosses commemorating soldiers from Blenheim, Ontario who served in the First World War.

Original grave markers for the Boys of Blenheim located at Blenheim and District Freedom Library and Museum.

Original grave markers for the Boys of Blenheim located at Blenheim and District Freedom Library and Museum.

These crosses are also of 18th Battalion men from the Blenheim, Ontario area. They are buried in 3 different cemeteries but are reunited in death by the collection of their original crosses marking their internment before being moved to their final place of rest.

Private Edwin Charles Smith. Source: Kent Branch of the O.G.S.

Private Edwin Charles Smith joined the C.E.F. in February 1915 only to be rejected as medically unfit. He rejoined again in February 1917 and his service led eventually to the 18th Battalion and then to the 2nd Machine Gun Company of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps.

Private Whitney Glen Robertson. Source: Kent Branch of the O.G.S.

Private Whitney Glen Robertson joined the 186th Overseas Battalion in April 1916, eventually being transferred to the 18th Battalion.

Through the efforts of the volunteers and others at the Blenheim and District Freedom Library and Museum and the Kent Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society these men are not only honoured and remembered but their lives and service has been recognized by the research and recording of their history and their history is united in the display in their memory.

You can read full details from the source PDF document here. The Blenheim and District Freedom Library and Museum has a Facebook page here.

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