Tracing Lost Soldiers
Many soldiers are on the Vimy or Menin Gate Monuments. Did you know its possible to trace where they fell to a high degree of accuracy?
An email came in as it tends to around Nov 11 asking if it was possible to find the location that a family member was lost during the First World War. The request was as follows:
Thomas Geoffrey Martin was a member of the 54th Battalion and I am trying to research where the Battalion was on Sept. 21st, 1916, the day he went missing. He had actually been posted to the 2nd Bn of the 1st Cdn Inf Bde.
So – with my trusty “LINESMAN” mapping program from in hand – here is what I found.
To locate where he was operating we looked for military orders from his Brigade (the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade) which lead us to where
his unit took over the from the 3rd Battalion which is referred to in their war diary.
Orders moving the 3rd Bn to a location on 17 Sep 1916 that the 2nd Bn took over a few nights later. He was killed near Courcellete France – extract from the 2nd Battalion War Diary .
Note that it mentions shelling being very heavy – ie – he may have never saw what killed him – probably a German Artillery gun from some distance behind their lines.
Images for this story
This image shows you the box his unit was operating in centered to the left of Courcellete France which is North East of Albert France about 5 miles Why they were there is bound to the Battle of the Somme that started on July 1 – Google Battle of the Somme for General Information
The box you see is where his unit would have been looking at the Germans – the diagonal line is the front line and the locations of the points are referred to with the notations for the latitude and longitude. You could take this info and put it into a GPS and walk the exact box or diagonal line.
An image from Google Earth with the data overlaid so you see where he was – he is on the left side of the 2 red lines
Shows Albert France SW of Courcellete – action was near the beat up Sugar factory
Shows you he was south of the Vimy Battle area (as its a famous landmark) and the orange line shows you the distance from Vimy to Courcellete is about 22 miles.
His friends who also met an untimely end that day are below.
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