GIVEEN, Butler Mildmay

Lieutenant, 13th Bn., Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment).

Born

5th October 1887.
In Londonderry, Ireland, the youngest son of the late Captain Butler Mildmay Giveen (18th Hussars) of Coolaragh, Coleraine and Alice Wilmot Giveen of Divinity Road Oxford and “The Firs” Dawlish, Devon.

Education

Blundell’s School, a “Day Boy” from the age of 9.
September 1897 to Easter 1902, and on leaving went to St. Edward’s School Oxford.

Personal Details

At attestation in Canada, on 23rd September 1914, he was described to be 24 years 9 months old, 5’7½” tall with a 35” chest, moderate fair complexion, brown eyes, brown hair. He had 6 vaccination scars on his left arm and a distinct scar under the patella (knee cap) of his left leg. He was a member of the Church of England.

Service

He enlisted as a private in Canada on 23rd September 1914 at Valcartier, 25 km west of Quebec City. CFB Valcartier was originally erected as a military camp in August of 1914 as part of the mobilization of a Canadian Expeditionary Force at the onset of the Great War. Due to its proximity to the port of Quebec it became the largest military camp on Canadian soil, including some 32,000 men and 8,000 horses. He was sent to France from there, getting promotion to Corporal by May 1915. During the second Battle of Ypres, during May 1915 he got his commission for bravery. He was also mentioned in dispatches for Bravery at St. Eloi in April 1916 while he was the bombing officer of the battalion. His commendation was “Lieutenant Giveen, bombing officer of the battalion went out with four men to investigate the situation and another party was sent forward over ground swept by the hostile artillery to reinforce the garrison of the front trenches. On reaching the crater our men found it abandoned by the enemy, who had left in it one of his dead. Posting bombers as sentries, Lieut. Giveen returned for reinforcements and when a fresh garrison had been brought up, work on restoring the entrenchments and recovering the dead was undertaken.”

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; the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence. Hooge Chateau and its stables were the scene of very fierce fighting and changes of fortune throughout the 14 – 18 conflict. It was heavily shelled throughout. From 24th May to 3rd June 1915, the chateau was defended against the German attacks and in July 1915 the crater was made by a mine sprung by the 3rd Divisions. However, on 30th July the Germans took the Chateau but on 9th August the 6th Division retook Hooge. On 6th June 1916 the Germans again retook the Chateau but again on 31st July it was regained by the 9th Regiment.

War Diaries

The 13th Battalion had been in the Ypres area for some months. On May 7th the War Diary records that the weather was inclined to be dull and showery. Reveille at 6am. All company officers to ensure that all NCOs and men under their charge were fully equipped with Iron rations, field dressings, tube helmets and identity disks. Lt. VC Buchanan, Major KK Perry, Lt. FS Mathewson, Lt. RM Rust, Lt. BM Giveen and Lt. WA Hamilton reconnoitred the trenches to be occupied by the battalion on the next tour.
28th May: Passes were issued for visiting Poperinghe.
3rd June: Orders - Transport will move to lines adjacent to Dickebusch huts passing Shrapnel corner before 10pm. Company moved to new positions near Zillebeke Village and Maple Copse. Weather fine and very little wind.
5th June: Weather still wet, cloudy and disagreeable. The dugouts and trenches in a fearful state of mud. In the early morning the enemy started up a violent bombardment which lasted about half an hour. During the day the Germans were very active all along the front line. An attack was arranged to take place at 1.00 on Thursday 8th June 1916.
6th June: Weather clear and fine, sun welcome after all the miserable days. Artillery on both sides kept up continual bombardment.
7th June: Weather took a turn for the worse, planned attack postponed. Battalion relieved and proceeded via Zillebeke to Dickebusch where buses waited to convey the men to “I” camp.
9th June: Weather clear and fine. Baths at Reningheist allotted to the battalion.
10th June: Bombers inspected grenade aprons, Very pistols, shrapnel proof helmets, revolvers and other stores reporting deficiencies.
11th June: Weather clear and fine, clouding over to heavy rain later. Preparations for attack proposed for 12th June in which the battalion to move forwards to trenches south of Maple Copse. Nos 1 and 3 Coys, the battalion bombers and 2 MG crews will be in the front trenches. Artillery fire to lift and allow infantry to advance. The battalion paraded in full marching order then proceeded to trenches from “I” camp via Reningheist, Guderdon, across country to Dikesbusch-Ypres main road to Kruisstreet Dump thence by way of a small gauge track to Woodcote House (aka Bedford House) and Railway dugouts to the HQs and trenches, previously occupied by the battalion on 7th June 1916. At midnight all in allotted positions, 4 objectives set, the 4th is our old front line, known as Vancouver, the battalion bombers divided into 6 squads of 6 men each, two of these will move up Vigo Street under the bombing officer.
12th June: During intense bombardment we were subject to a heavy artillery fire and suffered quite a number of casualties. At 1.30am the artillery lifted and the advance began. Before 4am the first objective had been won but during the advance Mr. Giveen our Bombing officer was unfortunately killed, and the bombers and blocking party were nearly all casualties. Throughout the whole action the weather was dull and rainy and the ground very soft and heavy.

Death

13th June 1916, aged 27.
He was killed on the morning while attacking the German trenches leading his men in an attack. On 23rd June 1916, Major-General the Hon Sir Sam Hughes, Minister for Militia and Defence for Canada wrote:
“Dear Mrs Giveen, - Will you kindly accept my sincere sympathy and condolence in the decease of that worthy citizen and heroic soldier, Lieutenant Butler Giveen. While one cannot too deeply mourn the loss of such a brave comrade, there is a consolation in knowing that he did his duty fearlessly and well, and gave up his life for the cause of liberty and the up-building of the Empire. Again extending to you my heartfelt sympathy, yours faithfully, Sam Hughes.”

Burial/Commemoration

He was buried at Hooge Crater Cemetery, but due to subsequent shelling the exact position within the cemetery was lost so he is remembered on Special memorial B5 in the cemetery, which is near Ypres. (See Canadian attestation papers.)

Memorial

The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens on the site of Hooge Chateau and its cemetery enclosures. It is 4km east of Ypres.

Research

Commonwealth War Graves Commission - www.cwgc.org
Canadian Archives: www.collectionscanada.ca
- Attestation: RG 150 1992-93/166 Box 3572 - 66
- War Diary: RG9 Series III-D-3 Vol 4921 Reel T 10714 - 10715
“The Register of Blundell's School, Part II 1882 – 1932” (1932) MAHOOD, A.S., Ed. Entry No.
“The Blundellian”, 1916 July p245
Cemeteries & Memorials in Belgium & Northern France (2004) Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 6/162
“Battlefield Guide to the Ypres Salient” HOLT, T & V (2003) Leo Cooper.

 

[ back to previous page ]