Its funny what you find, looking for something else.
Last week I wrote about 16th Canadian Scottish's Final Battle, one that saw the death of the second in command, Major Roderick Bell-Irving. He was the man who recommended my Grandfather for his commission, which in some ways may have saved his life, for he spent the last 8 months of the war in England.
I belong to a forum devoted to the study of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the Great War. Today I was looking for a photo of my Grandfather's looking for an answer about the tartan of the Pipers for the 16th. Suffice it to say that the 16th has a very confusing history when it comes to tartans.
I found the photo and next to it was another showing the officers of the 16th, which I believe was taken late in the war. In it I noticed that Lt. Col. Cy Peck had one wound stripe. Now I knew that Peck had been wounded twice, once in what was one of his earliest battles at Canadian Orchard at Festubert, and I got to wondering when his second wound happened.
In the Regimental History the nominal roll showed that he was wounded on the 4th of October 1918, three days after Cuvilliers, the battle I just wrote about. There was nothing in the Regimental History mentioning his second wound. So I turned to the War Diaries on line. Again there was nothing apart from a notation that Peck was evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Centre. Now you would think that your commanding officer's being wounded would merit more of a mention than that.
I was at a loss, and going to post a question on the forum to see if anyone knew the answer as to how he got wounded when I remembered that I have a biography of Peck written by his son. It did provide the answer, Peck was wounded by a poison gas shell in the back area.
But it also contained details of the death of Roderick Bell-Irving, details not contained in the Regimental History, which indicated he went forward, never to be seen again. In fact what happened was witnessed. Determined to push forward to the exploitation line he saw Germans rushing to get some aircraft away from an airfield. Quickly organizing a party of six men and himself to try and stop them, he failed to notice a sunken road in their way. The sunken road concealed a German machine-gun post, which wiped out the party. Only one of them, a Cpl Alex MacMillan, survived. He was wounded and after laying in the field for a number of hours was taken prisoner.
As I wrote before, Bell-Irving's body was not recovered until later. MacMillan was one of three Alex MacMillans with the 16th. All of them were originals with the Batallion. MacMillan had been in the war since the beginning (he was seconded to the Veterinary Corps for the first 9 months) and had almost beaten the odds by being unscathed through the war until this final battle. I can't find the reference right now but I believe something like only 30 of the original 1000 or so made it through the war.