CAMERON, Evan Stuart

Cameron, ES25931, Corporal 14th Bn., Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment).

Born

21st September 1893, on Turks Island in the British West Indies.
Son of Sir Edward J. Cameron K.C.M.G. and Lady Cameron of 15, Springfield Place, Bath. Nephew of Admiral Freemantle.

Education

Blundell’s School, “School House”, from September 1905, when he was 12 years old to Summer 1912. He had been Captain of Cricket (for four years won the average bat) and of Hockey and played for two years in the first XV. He spent five years in the corps, one as a cadet and four in the OTC. In his final year he was Head Boy of the school. His eulogy stated “There has been no finer Head of School, His character was marked by an unswerving honesty of purpose that made him, in his latter days, a true leader and a king of men. He held his views with unflinching courage; but could command the respect and confidence of those who differed from him. He was a sportsman and played the game in everything. In his old school his fame is secure, a great cricketer, a sterling football player, truly tolerant yet fired by the highest convictions, he ever laboured for the welfare of his House and School. He has died as honourably as he lived honoured by every Blundellian of his time and beloved by those who knew him best.”

Service

He was in Canada at the outbreak of war so enlisted there on September 21st 1914. He was in action by March 1915 and wrote to the Blundellian on 11th March “I have had some very varied experiences. After leaving our first billet we marched some 12 to 15 miles, cobble stones all the way, and two companies, nearly 500 men, were put in a large hall place in a fair sized town.[Cloth Hall, Ypres] From there we took our first turn in the firing line with some regulars: nothing exciting happened at all. After that we moved some five miles, and were billeted in a factory, the worst billet so far we have had. From there we took a longer turn in the firing line on our own; things were slightly more lively, and of course we had more to do. On our last afternoon our trenches received a little shelling, and I had a very miraculous escape when a shell burst over the dug out in which I was, and tore a huge hole about a foot from my hand: there was another fellow with me and he got rather badly cut up, but beyond a slight shock and a few scratches on each hand I was none the worse, and except for being a bit deaf I have quite recovered. We are doing a turn in the reserve trenches; we carry up rations and ammunition, etc., to the front line at night, and there are some few fatigues in the day time. I managed to get a hot bath after our last turn but had to march three or four miles for it.” He had been urged to take a commission in the British Army but had declined saying “The Canadians brought me over and I must stick with them.”

The Offensive

The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence. There was little more significant activity on this front until 1917, when in the Third Battle of Ypres an offensive was mounted by Commonwealth forces to divert German attention from a weakened French front further south. The initial attempt in June to dislodge the Germans from the Messines Ridge was a complete success, but the main assault north-eastward, which began at the end of July, quickly became a dogged struggle against determined opposition and the rapidly deteriorating weather. The campaign finally came to a close in November with the capture of Passchendaele.

Personal Details

On enlistment Evan Cameron was described as being 20 years and 11 moths old, 5’10” tall, having a 36” chest, blue eyes, dark brown hair and dark complexion, with one vaccination mark on his left arm. He was a member of the Church of England. He gave his profession as Bookkeeper.

The Offensive

The Ypres Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge. The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence.

War Diaries

In March 1915 the 14th Battalion (Royal Montreal regiment) were based in Ypres and remained there until the time of Corporal Cameron’s death.
14th April, Billets Cassel
15th April, Billets Cassel, left at 1.30 pm for Steenvorde, arriving at 4pm
16th April, Left Steenvordeat 9.30am in Motor Buses for Vlameringhe arriving at 4pm. Marched to Weiltje arriving there at 7pm. Relieved French Infantry in trenches at St. Julien at about 10.30. Relief completed at midnight.
17th April, in trenches at St. Julien }
18th April, in trenches at St. Julien } 7 killed,
19th April, in trenches at St. Julien } 15 wounded
20th April, in trenches at St. Julien }
21st April, the seven killed were buried at St. Julien just outside North West corner of churchyard. Heavy shelling of Ypres and vicinity began. At 5pm received orders to stand to. At 6pm the battalion began to move up towards St. Julien shelling continuous. On the way Ypres/St. Julien road one gun of British RHA battery galloped past battalion and came into action in field on road just above Wietje.

Death

21st April 1915, aged 21.
He was killed in action in the first attack by poisoned gas near Ypres on 21st April 1915. The major of his section said that he was to have been given his commission in the field if he had lived.

Burial/Commemoration

After the armistice it was not possible to locate Corporal Cameron’s grave, so he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium, (Flanders). Panel 28.

Memorial

The Menin Gate Memorial is situated at the eastern side of the town on the road, astride the main Menin to Courtrai (Kortrijk) Road. This site was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates those of all Commonwealth nations (except New Zealand) who died in the Salient, in the case of United Kingdom casualties before 16 August 1917, and now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with sculpture by Sir William Reid-Dick, and unveiled by Lord Plumer in July 1927.
Each night at 8pm the traffic through the gate is stopped while members of the local Fire Brigade sound the Last Post in the roadway under the Memorial's arches. Nearby the Cloth Hall Museum has an excellent interpretation centre but apparently no research facility.

Research

Commonwealth War Graves Commission - www.cwgc.org
The Canadian Archives, www.collectionscanada.ca.
  - Attestation: RG 150 1992-93/166 Box 1404 – 42
  - War Diary: RG9 Series III-D-3 Vol.
“The Register of Blundell's School, Part II 1882 – 1932” (1932) MAHOOD, A.S., Ed. Entry No.5061
“The Blundellian”, 1915; February p159, June p172
Cemeteries & Memorials in Belgium & Northern France (2004) Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 5/58
Field visit (JEA & GRY April 2006)

 

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