I recently met Stephanie Ann Warner at an event at the BC Archives. She’s created a great blog featuring photographs of her grandfather Harold Monks who, at age 21, emigrated from England to Vancouver Island. Her latest post includes some wonderful candid photographs taken of Harold and other Vancouver Island volunteers at Camp Petawawa in 1917.
One of the men in these photos is Neil “Ross” McCannel, a Signaller in the Canadian Field Artillery, who died on Nov. 6 1918, just five days before the Armistice. His casualty report read:
“On the evening of November 6, 1918, he and another Signaller were repairing a break in the line, when a 4.1 shell exploded directly behind them mortally wounding Signaller McCannel in the thigh and he died almost immediately.”
When Ross’s parents received word of his death they were still mourning the loss of another son, Ross’s older brother Donald Morgan McCannel, a gunner in the C.F.A. who died on Sept. 27, 1918.
Ray Brewster was the son of the late British Columbia Premier Harlan Carey Brewster and the man who snapped the photos appearing in Stephanie’s post. Tragically Ray was killed in action less than a week before Ross, on Nov. 1 1918. His casualty report read:
“The Battery to which Gunner Brewster belonged was in action in an advanced position doing heavy firing, when the gun he was working on received a direct hit from a 5.9 shell, causing instantaneous death to all the crew, who were doing splendid work at the time.”
Brothers Ross and Don are buried 60km apart however Ray lies just 100 feet away from Ross at the Valenciennes (St. Roch) Communal Cemetery.