07 April 2013

Ancestry.ca Remembers Vimy

In recognition of the anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge Ancestry.ca is offering free access to its collection of First World War historical records from April 9th to 12th.

Ancestry.ca writes about one of the everyday heroes who served in the Battle (slightly edited):

Joseph Henry Mees was born on Feb. 2, 1889, and 28 years old when he fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. As a gunner Joseph’s duty likely would have put him in frequent close proximity to direct combat – if he wasn’t participating directly.  
He had left behind his wife Mary Julian Mees and two small daughters in Montreal. His role was as gunner,  affectionately referred to as “the ammunition carrier”. During the First World War gunners provided close support to other men in combat or attacked targets and were often in close proximity to or participating in direct combat. Courage was incredibly important to these highly engaged artillery positions. One year after enlistment, Joseph found himself at the battle of Vimy Ridge. Joseph wrote home as much as possible and in one letter he mentions his Vimy Ridge experience. He writes that prior to the battle there was considerable shelling by the Germans, but until all their artillery was in place his crew could not fire back. However, the taking of Vimy Ridge went perfectly. He boasts that his infantry was tickled with his crew’s work. Soon after the battle, while he was resting in what was left of the village of Vimy, Joseph and three other crew members were injured by German shelling. Thankfully, his wounds were described as slight. He returned home to Canada in 1919, and quickly settled into the life of an ordinary man, like so many other returning heroes before and after him. He had two more children, worked as a tile settler and passed away at the age of 63 in 1952.
Mees was born in Ireland of an English father and Irish mother. He is found in the 1901 Irish census. Like so many who served, he had moved to Canada in the decade before WW1. He is found in the Ancestry.ca's Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980 collection. There is further information at http://goo.gl/H2Y7D.

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