DIVISIONAL UNIT: 3rd Canadian Infantry Division
7th Infantry Brigade
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
Canadian Infantry Corps
SERVICE NO: 475876
DATE OF BIRTH: October 3, 1889
Seaforth – McKillop / Tuckersmith Townships – County of Huron - Ontario
DATE OF DEATH: June 4, 1916 26 years 8 months
MEMORIAL: Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial – Ypres –
West Vlaanderen – Belgium
FATHER: Mr. Thomas Hays – Seaforth – Ontario
Occupation: Accountant Religion: Presbyterian
Enlistment: Regina – Saskatchewan – August 9, 1915 into 3rd University Company.
Enlistment Age: 25 years 10 months
Private Hays transferred to the P.P.C.L.I. and proceeded to France on November 24, 1915. He arrived at the Canadian Base Depot on November 27, 1915. He joined the Princess Patricia’s in the field on December 5, 1915. He asks to be reverted to the ranks but is promoted to lance corporal on April 26, 1916.
Lance Corporal Hays was originally listed as missing in action Between June 2 & 4th, but upon investigation we know he was killed in action as he performed his military duties during an attack near Sanctuary Wood.
June 2nd was a beautiful day weather-wise. No. 1 Company was the only Company at the front the rest of the Battalion was in reserve and on standby. However, about 9 am the Battalion seemed to be receiving more enemy artillery fire than what was being sent to them. Instead of the enemy artillery barrage getting lighter it was getting much heavier and it continued to get heavier. Large trees were uprooted and tossed and entire trenches were obliterated. No. 1 Company took it all and the curtain of enemy artillery isolated them from the rear.
The Divisional artillery could not match the enemy fire and the enemy fire was swift and very accurate. It was also so heavy that runners could not be used. This initial enemy bombardment lasted until 1 pm. The Battalion was positioned on the slopes of Hill 60 and observed the enemy attack onto Hill 62 and Mount Sorrel. No. 1 Company was holding the Loop and the enemy gave them special attention from their guns and trench mortars. By the time the enemy barrage ended No. 1 Company barely existed. The enemy began their advance on this position about 1:30 pm and overran this position and from those that still survived came fierce resistance. All officers, sergeants and corporals of No. 1 Company were killed, wounded or captured. No. 1 Company received the following casualties of 16 men killed, 35 men wounded, 65 men missing plus one man missing but believed killed. 15 men survived this day. No. 3 Company at the Reserve line suffered casualties of 50% from the enemy artillery bombardment. Scattered about was the debris of trees, sandbags, trench mats etc. Now the enemy broke through and were bombing in force and also being attacked from both sides. Two platoons were forced back. Their casualties were 20 killed, 49 wounded and 15 missing. No. 4 Company was also in the Reserve line and received the lightest casualties of the Battalion. They had a good parapet, no parados and few traverses. Their losses were 13 men killed, 37 wounded and 2 missing. No. 2 Company was in reserve but the closest to the periphery of the enemy destruction. They were close to the trenches in the Appendix and the German shells were over ranging by 20 yards. The right hand platoon took the brunt. The trench had been obliterated. By nightfall the action had slowed.
The above account is how Lance Corporal Hays lost his life in action while performing his duties in the line of enemy fire.