Saturday, 24 September 2016

Leighton’s Canadian Casualties

Lake Street, Leighton Buzzard c.1910 [Z1306/72/9/4]

Sunday 24th September 1916: Every night this week, and at matinees on Thursday and Saturday, the official pictures of the Battle of the Somme are being shown at the Victoria Picture Palace in Leighton Buzzard. The battle has now been raging for nearly three months, and news of local casualties continues to be received. These include three former Leighton men who emigrated to Canada before the war. Private Hayward Luck, whose parents have now moved from Leighton to Hendon, was serving in France with the Canadian Forces when he was killed by a shell as he emerged from a dug-out on 9th September. Another former Leightonian, Lance-Corporal E. Woodman, the son of Mr and Mrs Veere Woodman of Lake Street, was more fortunate than his compatriot and is recovering in hospital at Whalley, Lancashire, from a shrapnel wound to his left hand. Lance-Corporal Woodman had been in Canada for about six years before joining the Vancouver Regiment in October 1914. He was sent to France in November 1915 and had previously come through much fierce fighting unscathed.  

Mr and Mrs Thomas Winmill of Church Street were notified on Friday that their son Private Cyril Winmill had been killed in action in France on 9th September. However, that same evening they received a card from their son saying he was quite well. They have now received a letter from him explaining the confusion and telling them he has been wounded. He writes:

“I am a little weak, otherwise I am all right. If you have been notified that I was killed, it is a mistake. We had a hot time and took some trenches, and I was slightly wounded in the shoulder by a piece of half-spent shrapnel. If it had hit me with full force, no doubt I should have ‘gone west’. I was sent to an English hospital instead of a Canadian, and so I was down as missing. We made a fine charge – couldn’t hold the boys back, and I happened to be in the first wave over the parapet, getting hit in the enemy’s second line. We had lots of cigars from Fritz’s dug-outs, and sure he lives high over this way”. 

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 26th September 1916

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