DIVISIONAL UNIT: 3rd Canadian Infantry Division
7th Infantry Brigade
42nd Battalion - Royal Highlanders of Canada
Canadian Infantry Corps
RESIDENCE: Toronto – Ontario
DATE OF BIRTH: November 24, 1890
DATE OF DEATH: October 25, 1917 26 years 11 months
CEMETERY: Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery – Ieper –
West Vlaanderen – Belgium
VIII H 14
PARENTS: Mr. Duncan and Marion MacPherson – Brookline – Massachusetts - USA
Occupation: Mining Engineer Religion: Presbyterian
Enlistment: Clinton – January 11, 1916 – into 161st Huron Battalion
Enlistment Age: 25 years 2 months
The 161st on board the S.S. Laplamd departed Halifax and arrived in England on November 11, 1916.
On May 5, 1917, he transfers to the 20th Canadian Reserve Battalion and is Struck off Strength from the 161st Battalion.
On August 15, 1917, he is Struck off Strength of the 20th Canadian Reserve Battalion and transfers to the 42nd Battalion and joins them in the field on August 28, 1917.
The Battalion had been on the move toward the front for a period of time and on October 23, 1917 they climbed on board a train that would take them to Hazebrouck. During that evening the rain began and it would rain all the next day.
From Hazebrouck they moved into Ypres and had to wait in the desolation of what was once a town.
The whistle blew, the men fell into rank and they began the march to California Trench where they would relieve the Canadian Mounted Rifles. Once they found California Trench they described it as a dreadful and smelly place with nothing more than make-shift shelters and some men were able to locate some corrugated metal and were able to make themselves a shelter of sorts.
During the night of October 24th / 25th they experienced considerable shelling from the enemy and they realized there was no pattern to the shelling. Shells were falling here and there and it was if the enemy gunners were not even picking targets. Rainwater was now 2”- 3” deep in the ditch that was called a trench. The men were not even able to find any dry protection under the corrugated metal. The few men here huddled together with their ground sheets spread out on what was once a plank and this was being used for a seat. They stayed like this all night.
Dawn arrived on the morning of October 25th and there was a clinging and penetrating damp and cold mist which made their rifles clammy and slippery. The men ate their rations, but they had not been issued their tommy cookers and could not even make hot tea. At 8 am they climbed from the ditch and formed up into groups of 7-8 men and stood there in the oozing mud while an officer came to “inspect” the trench they had cowered in all night.
The officer doing this inspection was Lieutenant Charles Kenneth MacPherson.
Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-wump! This was the sound that the men who had been in the ditch all night described the shell they knew was coming. They knew it was on the way but they did not have time to run, to fall to the ground or protect themselves in any way. The shell arrived and fell directly onto the spot where these men were and had spent the night – leaving Lieutenant MacPherson lifeless in the mud.
His body was taken to Ypres after a party had been detailed for that task.
Lieutenant MacPherson is honoured and remembered on the University of Toronto – Roll of Service. He was educated in Clinton at the Clinton Middle School, Clinton Collegiate Institute and at Goderich Collegiate Institute before entering the University of Toronto for Applied Sciences.