Today, June 3, 2016 marks a sad anniversary in my family tree. A century ago, on June 3, 1916, two of my ancestors died in action in the First World War — one on my mom`s side and one on my dad`s.
I have long known the story of my grandmother Helen Dewdney`s brother Lt. Gerald Hamilton Peters, who was born in Charlottetown in 1894 and died June 3, 1916 in the Battle of Mount Sorrel in the Ypres Salient (the small triangle of land which was the only part of Belgium held by the Allies after the first German offensive in 1914). Gerald joined the 24th (Montreal) battalion of the Canadian forces in early 1915 and served in trench action at Ypres until early 1916 when he was sent to England for officer training, from which he return in March 1916 as a lieutenant with the 7th (British Columbia) battalion.
I recently discovered that a second cousin (twice removed) James Santo McBride also died in action June 3, 1916 at Ypres. Born in Calgary in 1892, he was a private serving with the 24th battalion, so it is possible that he and Gerald may have known each other (a battalion was approximately 600 men). When war was declared in 1914 James was working at a hardware store in Calgary owned by his grandfather Alexander
McBride, who was the youngest child of the McBride family that emigrated from Northern Ireland and settled in London, Ontario in the 1830s. Alexander, who was mayor of Calgary in 1896, had a chain of hardware stores that included outlets in Rossland and Cranbrook. My grandfather Roland Leigh McBride worked at the A. McBride Hardware stores in Calgary and then Rossland when he moved west from Ontario in 1900. I don`t know much about James, but I met his younger brother Jack McBride and his wife Lillian in Calgary in the early 1990s.