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Remembering World War I Yarmouth Connections
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   Gunner Raymond Arthur Saunders   Force: Army Regiment: Canadian Artillery Unit: 2nd Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery Company: 6th Battery Regimental Number: 41589 Prior Military Experience: Yes   Enlistment Date: September 24, 1914 Age at Enlistment: (officially aged 18) Actual age 16 Enlisted at: Valcartier, Quebec Height: 5 Feet; 8 Inches Address at Enlistment: Hebron, Yarmouth Co., Nova Scotia Date of Birth: April 10, 1896 Next of Kin: Father: Josiah C. Saunders, of Hebron, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia Place of Birth: Hebron, Yarmouth Co., Nova Scotia Civilian Occupation: Painter Religion: Baptist   Raymond Saunders was a Gunner of an artillery piece drawn by four horses.  After his death Corporal Colin Gernon Palmer Campbell of Weymouth (later Lieutenant Campbell) wrote to Raymond’s father. Date of Death: April 25, 1915 Age at Death: 17 Cause of Death: Killed in action Battle of St Julian)   Burial: Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery, Belgium Plot: II. J. 12. Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery is located  in the town of Poperinge, Belgium. The town of Poperinghe (now Poperinge) was of great importance during the First World War because, although occasionally bombed or bombarded at long range, it was the nearest place to Ypres which was both considerable in size and reasonably safe. It was at first a centre for Casualty Clearing Stations, but by 1916 it became necessary to move these units further back and field ambulances took their places. The earliest Commonwealth graves in the town are in the communal cemetery, which was used from October 1914 to March 1915. The Old Military Cemetery was made in the course of the First Battle of Ypres and was closed, so far as Commonwealth burials are concerned, at the beginning of May 1915. The New Military Cemetery was established in June 1915. The Old Military Cemetery contains 450 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 24 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to seven casualties known or believed to be buried among them. There is a large empty space at the front of the cemetery, apart from one grave, that of Gunner R A Saunders of the Canadian Field Artillery who is buried next to the Cross of Sacrifice. Behind this are the graves which make up Plot 2. Gunner Raymond Saunders was a painter in Nova Scotia before the war, and aged just 18, served with the 6th Battery of the 2nd Canadian Field Artillery. Raymond Saunders is Commemorated on Page 35 of the First World War Book of Remembrance This page is displayed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa on January 30
Gunner Raymond Arthur Saunders
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Attestation Paper (click to enlarge)
“... Ray was my best and only chum ... and I loved him more than life itself. It is awful hard to lose someone one loves and I sympathize with you from the bottom of my heart.  Ray was a loving littler chap and was beloved by all the battery.  All were his friends and not a day passed but what he and I had some eventful time to mark our trip.   He had few troubles, if any, and was one of the finest chaps to work and look after his team of horses which he took great pride in having better than anyone else’s. You should be a proud man to have had such a son.  He loved his relatives and home very much as he has told me many a time of you all and of home. We had just selected a place to make down our bed, and, as usual, he waited for me to get the blankets and make our bed.  This was to be just beside his horses and behind a grove of small trees.  There was quite a number of our fellows there and several got wounded.  I had just turned from him when the awful crash of a shell came.  Ray was lying down where his bed was to be and a piece of shell struck him on the left side of the head cutting through his cap and seriously injuring him. He died twenty hours later in hospital. He had a shroud and coffin and was buried in the cemetery of that town.  Although we had quite a time to get a cross to mark his resting place we found a wheeler’s shop and I made a nice one myself on which I painted his name, date of birth and birthplace.  With me was Gunner O.B. McNeil, Hebron and Gunner Charles Emin of Yarmouth.  We had prayers over his resting place and made arrangements to have it put in as nice shape as possible. I thought I would tell you this so you might rest easier. It was the will of God that he had to leave all he loved and who loved him in this world to meet him in the next.  One great consolation is that he is now with his mother.” C. G. Campbell, Corporal (Source: A Monument Speaks; Arthur Thurston)