Who am I? (By E3161 Victoria Edwards (RMC ‘03)
- My late father had served as a Brigadier General. My mother, Elizabeth lived at 122, Gilmour St., Ottawa.
- I was born on June 29, 1892 in Hull, Quebec.
- Before the outbreak of war I had been the Mess Secretary and was a graduate of McGill University with a degree in Civil Engineering and the Royal Military College, Kingston.
- I was a 22 year old officer, a Lieutenant in the 2nd Battery, 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery and had become good friends with my senior officer, Major John McCrae a medical doctor and second in command of the 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery.
- Early on Sunday morning, May 2, 1915 Lieutenants’ Hague and I left our position to check on a Canadian Battery who had positioned themselves on the bank of the Yser Canal near St. Julien close to the France-Belgium border. We had only gone a few yards when a six inch, high explosive canon shell burst during The Second Battle of Ypres. I was killed instantly by a direct hit.
- Major John McCrae, felt wretched at this and so many other similar losses.
- There being no padre available at the time, he ordered my remains to be made ready for burial and said the Commital Service as best he could from memory. He recited from memory some passages from the Church of England’s ‘Order of Burial of the Dead’.
- A wooden cross marked the burial place. The grave has since been lost.
- Major McCrae sat on the back steps of an ambulance as he worked on his war memorial poem, ‘In Flanders Fields’.
- It is believed that my death was the inspiration for McCrae’s war memorial poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. The exact details of when the first draft was written may never be known because there are various accounts by those who were with McCrae at that time. It was published in ‘Punch’ magazine on 8 December 1915.
- I was commemorated on Page 18 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.
- I was commemorated on Panel 10 of the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres; I was one of the 54,896 soldiers who have no known grave in the battlefields of the Ypres Salient.
a) 727 D.A. White
b) A.H. Helmer
c) 873 Stanley S.E. Lovelace
d) 790 A.G. Lawson
Answer: b)Lieutenant Alexis Hannum Helmer