FORBES, William Thomas

1st World War
Date of Birth
Date Attested
Attested at
Listowel, Ontario
Regimental Number
Date of Death
Age at Death
27 years 8 months
Biographical Summary

DIVISIONAL UNIT:        3rd Canadian Infantry Division
                                             9th Infantry Brigade
                                             58th Battalion  -  Central Ontario
                                             Canadian Infantry Corps
SERVICE NO:                   727244
RESIDENCE:                    Brussels – Ontario 
DATE OF BIRTH:            February 14, 1890
                                             Brussels - Morris Township – County of Huron - Ontario
DATE OF DEATH:           October 26, 1917                 27 years     8 months
MEMORIAL:                    Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial – Ieper –
                                             West Vlaanderen – Belgium
                                             Panels 18-24 & Panels 26-30
WIFE:                                 Mrs. Mary Forbes – Brussels - Ontario
PARENT:                           Mrs. Elisabeth Forbes – Brussels – Ontario
Occupation:                        Farmer                                  Religion:     Church of England
Enlistment:                         Listowel – December 27, 1915 – into 110th Battalion
Enlistment Age:                 25 years     10 months

Private Forbes embarked from Halifax and Canada on November 1, 1916 and arrived in England on November 11, 1916. He was based at Shoreham – Sussex from early January 1917 until he transferred to the 58th Battalion on March 6. He then went overseas into France and joined his unit on May 3, 1917.
In the early morning hours, the 3rd Division began its advance toward Passchendale by following the shattered Gravenstafel-Passchendale road towards the Bellevue Spur. The early advance went well with the Division overrunning the enemy forward positions. The enemy then turned his artillery onto the advancing Canadians and brought death onto them with a prolonged barrage. They still advanced and finally the advance was halted from the battlefield conditions and the enemy artillery and machine gun fire. The Division tried to hang onto their gains but were not successful ad retired. The infantry then dug in and tried to find any sort of cover to protect themselves. The battlefield conditions not only included the enemy bit there was water and waist deep mus as well. The Division did not achieve its objectives, but it did advance about 1,000 yards.
The casualties were 2,900 with 600 men losing their lives.
It was during the following account when Private Forbes lost his life in battle while performing his military duties.
The British barrage began at 5:40 am with the Battalion following as close as possible. The replying enemy barrage came down on the Haverbeck vicinity and it caused some casualties.
The British barrage then lifted and it had been slower in advancing on the right than it had been on the left and was distributed up to a depth of 300 yards. Because the barrage had been uneven it caused the first assaulting waves to receive casualties.
The infantry kept moving and captured 3 enemy concrete “pill boxes” at Lamkeek together with Dad Trench. They were however, subject to heavy enemy machine-gun fire from other enemy “pill boxes” and trenches. At the same time, they took enfilade fire from Bellevue Farm and from the left of the Battalion front.
At the same time there was also heavy enemy fire coming from Crest Farm. The Battalion found themselves occupying shell holes in front of their positions and this was followed by a severe fight for Contour Trench. This went on until 2 pm and this was when 62 enemy soldiers stood up and surrendered. Following this the Battalion was able to take control of the enemy trench system on the front.
During the night 8 machine-gun posts were established in front of Contour Trench.
Private Forbes was never found and we believe he lost his life from either the friendly fire artillery as they began their advance or from the return enemy artillery fire.