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Remembered Today:

Pt51294 Robert LEE, Canadian Light Infantry death 8th May 1915 Belgium

patrick anderson

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i am researching the  Scottish born soldier  who served in the  Canadian LIght Infantry who was killed in action on 8th May 1915 in the  Ypres area of Belgium .  The name i am researching  is  PTE  51294 ROBERT LEE , of the   Princess  Patricia's Canadian LIght  Infantry  (Eastern Ontario  Regiment ) .  The CWGC record that Pte  Robert Lee was the son of  John and Annie  Lee of  40 Burnbrae, Alexandria ,  Dumbartonshire  Scotland and sadly he has no known grave as he is listed on the Ypres  (Menin Gate )  Memorial  in Belgium .  I found that  Pte  Lee is recorded in the  ARBROATH & DISTRICT  roll of honour 1914-1918  book and the father  is recorded in the publication  roll of honour to be  the  Headmaster  and residing at the schoolhouse Kirkden near  Arbroath.   
Pte   Robert Lee is listed on the ruined Kirkden church within the former churchyard  at Kirkden in  Angus  Scotland.

Any info would be of interest


Thank you very much  for your help on this matter   & kind regards

Patrick  W Anderson

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Mark 1959 and Matlock1418 , I only knew what i put on this website and now with your Help  Matlock1418 i am now working through the  CEF file that you kindly gave me above .   Thats great  help thanks ,


Did he join the 23rd Battalion first before  the PP Canadian Light Infantry at first as on an early form in the  CEF file  it shows  23rd deleted and PPCL I  added and sent overseas to war from Tidworth  Stationery  (hospital ??)  and then  embarked from southampton on 7th  April 1915 and KILLED IN ACTION on 8th May 1915 , Seems a short war for him as he signed on  for war on 4th january  1915 I see from your CEF file  ( Matlock1418 ) . 


Was that normal as i see ( Mark 1959) he served in the  Seaforths for  3 years 


You may not be able to help me with these questions but any ideas would help


thank you for your continuing help


patrick w anderson


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has anyone got the  War  Diary for the 8th may 1915 that would record the action  Pte Lee was in with the  Canadians Please



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Transcribed version here


8th May 1915 was a bad day for the PPCLI

Diary starts from this page

http://www.canadiangreatwarproject.com/WarDiaries/diarySummaryLocation.asp?Unit=Princess Patricia^s Canadian Light Infantry

The original hand written version should be available but not found it yet


The original:


The Canadians tried to determine how each casualty died. In this case there was clearly no further info


However location is Trenches near Bellewaarde Lake. The  reverse of the card, the next image, gives a grave location of Sheet 28.A.7.a.4.2. This a British Trench Map ref. So they buried him.

As he is on the Menin Gate his remains were clearly subsequently lost. 


Edited by Mark1959
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May 8th 1915 was very bad day for the PPCLI in terms of casualties.  The Regiment was decimated, with only 150 men and 4 officers out of 700 remaining at the end of the day.  They withdrew to the GHQ area but then lost another 5 men killed and 3 wounded due to shelling.  May the 8th was a day of valour & honour though, perhaps the highest battle honour of the Regiment.  There were 31 medals awarded to the PPCLI for the Battle of Frezenburg and it gave the regiment its unofficial motto of "Holding up the whole damn line".


There is no mention of Private Lee in the diaries or histories but that is not so unusual since the enlisted men rarely figure.  Still, there are exceptions and there is on this day such as Private 51068 J. Bushby who twice went from front lines to support trenches and back for more ammunition despite being under constant fire and also assisted the wounded "from a trench that was already in the hands of the Germans. He attempted to rescue a comrade who was half-buried in the trench although while doing so he had to keep at bay two Germans who were trying to bayonet him". Bushby was wounded but survived that day and was awarded the DCM and the Russian Order of St George for his actions.


Sir John French said of the Brigade: "You held on to your trenches in the most magnificent manner under a more severe bombardment than has ever been known, and in doing so you have been of the greatest assistance to operations which the British Army was carrying out at the time....you prevented the Germans from obtaining an objective which it was very necessary for them to obtain.  They wanted to take Ypres, and to be able to tell the whole of Europe and America that they had taken Ypres, and if they had done so this would have done us a lot of harm.  This might have had the effect of keeping neutral countries out of the war.  I can tell you that to-day Italy will declare war on behalf of the Allies.."


Stephen K Newman from his superb book 'With the Patricias in Flanders 1914-1918' summaries "Lee Robert Private 51294 Born in Cawfsie, Stirling, Scotland Mar 1880.  Served 3 years in the Seaforth Highlanders.  Employed as a locomotive fitter before enlisting in the 23rd Bn 4th Jan 1915.  Sailed from Halifax to England 23 Feb 1915.  Transferred to the PPCLI Reinforcing Draft 3 Mar 1915.  Crossed to France 7 Apr 1915 . General Action: 2nd Battle of Ypres, General Action Battle of Frezenburg, Reported killed in action during fighting on Bellewaerde Ridge 8 May 1915.  Age 35."   Newman doesn't mention Lee's distinctive marks though :-)  Tattoos of a woman on his right forearm and a small man on the left side of his neck.

Edited by SHJ
grammar and a tad of extra info
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  • 2 weeks later...

Today i received a communication from  Lt  Col  Colin McGrory,   Secretary to the  Trustees of the   Scottish National  War Memorial at the  Edinburgh  Castle  that  Pte   51294 Robert  Lee  of the  Canadian Infantry  kia  8th May 1915 has been accepted as a  Casualty of the  Great War and is listed on the  CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE,    CEF  Scots  who served in other  Canadian Units .


I am so thankful for all your information and help to get  this soldier  added to the   Rolls at the   SNWM  Edinburgh  Castle ,.

Best wishes to you all    Patrick w anderson

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