DIVISIONAL UNIT: 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, 7th Infantry Brigade, 49th Battalion - Edmonton Canadian Infantry Corps
RESIDENCE: Fordwich – Ontario.
DATE OF BIRTH: April 18, 1890, Fordwich - HowickTownship – County of Huron - Ontario
PARENTS: Mr. James and Christina Cattanach – Fordwich – Ontario
BROTHERS: George Cattanach a homesteader and Noble Cattanach a sailor with the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve serving on HMS Grosbeak in England.
SISTER: Mary Cattanach - Fordwich - Ontario
Personal: Height was 5' 6" and the weight was 127 pounds. John had a dark complexion with blue eyes and brown hair. He earned his living as a cable splicer with Bell Telephone. He had previously served for 10 months with the 153rd Battalion - Wellington.
While he served with the 153rd Battalion he was Struck off Strength as a deserter.
Private Cattanach arrived in Liverpool onboard the SS Olympic on May 7, 1917. Following his arrival in England he was seriously ill and admitted to the Canadian Military Hospital located in Bramshott on May 8, 1917 with pneumonia.
On June 9th, he was moved to Convalescent Hospital Woodcote located in Epsom and was discharged on June 15, 1917. A day later he was attached to No. 2 Canadian Convalescent Depot and then on July 27, 1917 he moved to the 25th Reserve Battalion. He then went overseas to France on March 30, 1918 and is Taken on Strength by the 47th Battalion. One day later he transferred to the 49th Battalion and joined them in the field on April 4th.
During the night of September 28/29 the Battalion suffered heavy casualties from enemy machine-gun fire and gas shells. Zero hour for the upcoming advance was 08:00 hours and when the artillery barrage began it was weak, scattered and the range was too short.
"A & B" Companies advanced with support close up and at 200 yards into the advance enemy machine-gun fire was encountered 80 yards out and there were some casualties. Both Companies advanced to within 50 yards of the railway and here again enemy fire impeded the advance.
"A" Company swung through the valley to the railway triangle to outflank the enemy, took the enemy guns and continued the advance down the valley.
The right Company climbed the slope and the left Company continued the advance. The line now covered the front from flank to flank but heavy enemy fire was coming from the flanks and the front. The advance at this point stalled with heavy casualties.
At 10:10 hours the right flank was taking casualties from enemy machine-gun fire and at 11 am they were still under fire and their numbers were being reduced from casualties suffered. Then at noon the enemy counter-attacked in strength but they were repulsed.
By 4 pm the enemy had apparently abandoned St Olle but the flanks were still receiving enemy fire. It was during this day of heavy battle when Private Cattanach was killed in action on the battlefield. He fell when he was struck in the neck from the explosion of an enemy shell. He died immediately.