Witness to War: Sunday May 27, 1917

Private Raymond Duval, MM, was a soldier of the 14th Battalion (Royal Montreal Regiment) CEF who served overseas during the last two years of the First World War. He participated in some of the fiercest fighting seen by Canadians during the war and was decorated for bravery at Passchendaele. Determined to preserve his memories of the First World War, he maintained a daily record of his experiences. Here is what he wrote precisely 100 years ago today:

Sunday May 27, 1917: Marched off at about 2am for train got to Shorncliffe about 7.30 pretty tired had a good breakfast and a shave and wash Fell in at 9.20 proceeded to Folkstone wharf where we embarked and proceeded under naval escort to Boulogne[1] where we landed at 2pm and proceeded to Canvas Rest Camp 12 men in each tent  – In ours, Charleston, Church[2], Raverty[3], Driscoll[4], Von Benz, Thabeaudrau, Gingras[5], Beane, Vining, Atherton[6] and myself. We are now loafing about our tent and it’s a beautiful evening We will move up to 14th Reserves Camp in morning about nine miles up the line. One last evening thought for my little girl away over in Canada and it seems such a long way off – God bless and keep her cheerful till I return which I hope I will for her and mothers sake Now somewhere in France –

[1] The location of a British Red Cross Depot in France, and a camp for soldiers en route to France from England.

[2] Church, Thomas Allen. Born 9 August 1885, Lachine, PQ. Enlisted 15 July 1916, Grand Mere, PQ.

[3] Raverty, Joseph O. Born 11 March 1898, Bray County, Wicklow, Ireland. Enlisted 10 July 1916, Grand Mere, PQ. KIA 1 September 1918, Dominion Cemetery, Handecourt-les-Cognicourt.

[4] Driscoll, John. Born 12 April 1888, Turnbridge, Wells, Kent, England. Enlisted 10 July 1916, Montreal, PQ.

[5] Gingras, Joseph O. Born 17 October 1895, St. Justin, PQ. Enlisted 18 July 1916, Grand Mere, PQ.

[6] Atherton, John. Born 15 June 1880, Lancashire, England. Enlisted 25 August 1916, Trois-Rivieres, PQ.

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The RMR Foundation thanks Natalie Dyck for generously sharing her publication of “The Diary and Memoir of Private Raymond Duval” in order for us to be able to share his story with you 100 years on. You can learn more about Private Duval here.

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