DIVISIONAL UNIT: 3rd Canadian Infantry Division
9th Infantry Brigade
58th Battalion - Central Ontario
Canadian Infantry Corps
SERVICE NO: 654488
RESIDENCE: Exeter – Ontario
DATE OF BIRTH: June 7, 1882
Solihull – Warwickshire - England
DATE OF DEATH: October 26, 1917 35 years 4 months
MEMORIAL: Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial – Ypres –
West Vlaanderen – Belgium
Panels 18-24 & Panels 26-30
WIFE: Mrs. Harriett West – Exeter - Ontario
PARENT: Mr. Ambrose West – Wooten Wawen – Warwickshire - England
Occupation: Mason Religion: Church of England
Enlistment: Exeter – February 21, 1916 – 161st Huron Battalion
Enlistment Age: 33 years 8 months
Private West and the 161st Battalion departed from the eastern shores of Canada on November 1, 1916 and arrived in England on November 11th.
Private West was taken on strength with the 58th Battalion. However, upon arrival in France on December 5, 1916 he was admitted to No. 2 General Hospital in Havre with influenza and remained there until December 8th when he was sent to a Canadian convalescent hospital and discharged from there on December 15th, 1916. On that same day he was assigned to the reinforcement pool and just a day later was taken on strength with the 58th Battalion already in the field and he joined his unit on March 5, 1917.
This was the day the Canadian Corps began their quest to take Passchendaele from the enemy and it would be difficult as they had to face two enemies. One was the Germans and the other was the battlefield conditions. The conditions on the ground they had to advance over were horrendous. The mud was waist deep. It was sticky and sucking death mud. The shell holes were water filled and there were thousands of bodies strewn over the battlefield. If the advance slowed or stopped the mud was apt to suck a soldier in and he would drown.
The attack began with the 3rd Division leaving their positions and advancing along what was left of the Gravenstafel-Passchendaele road towards the Bellevue Spur. They overran the forward enemy positions and soon after the enemy brought down a devastating artillery barrage onto the Canadians. They still advanced in the water and waist deep mud. The Division was not able to achieve their objectives and the advance was halted by the enemy fire. The Canadians tried hanging onto to their gains but the conditions forced them to fall back, dig in and get whatever cover they could for themselves. The advance was 1,000 yards.
The casualties for the day were 2,900 with 600 being killed.
During the attack of October 26th was when Private West lost his life during military operations. The following is that account……….
During the morning there was heavy rain and it remained cloudy all day. The wind was from the south at 10 mph.
”D” Company was holding the front, “A” Company was in support and “B” & “C” were in reserve. The British barrage began at 05:40 hours with the infantry following the barrage. The enemy immediately replied and some casualties were taken. When the British barrage lifted it was noticed that the advance was slower on the right than on the left and the barrage had not been distributed properly resulting in a number of casualties. Still the advance moved ahead and enemy “pill boxes” were captured at Hamkeek & Dad Trench but in doing so the 58th was subjected to heavy enemy machine-gun and enfilade fire. The men had to take cover in shell holes and this was shortly followed by bitter and severe fighting for Contour Trench that went on until 2:30 pm. Suddenly 64 Germans including some officers stood up and surrendered and this enabled the 58th to consolidate that enemy trench. Later in the evening machine-gun posts were established in front of Contour Trench but the enemy made no attempt to counter-attack and re-take what they lost.