Monday, 10 August 2015

McLean and Royston: WW1 Beechwood burial

The fifth soldier of the Great War buried at Beechwood cemetery, according to Commonwealth War Grave Commission records, was 20 year old Private W John Royston of the 43rd Regiment, Canadian Militia. He drowned in the Ottawa River while swimming at the foot of Kent Street  on 10 August 1915. His body was not found until the 13th and buried later the same day. He had joined the 77th Battalion of the CEF the previous month.
Royston was a home child having arrived in Quebec City on the Corsican at the end of April 1910 at age 13 with a Catholic Emigration Association group.

Also drowned in the same incident was a friend Private John Kenneth McLean. He appears to have arrived in Canada on the Virginian in June 1913, age 16, giving his occupation as clerk. A possible 1901 census entry in Islington shows mother Alice, a 33 year old widow and younger sister Catherine.

Although identified as a soldier in newspaper, burial and provincial death records John McLean is not included in military war death records. The Commemoration Division of Veterans Affairs Canada was notified of the omission in October 2014 and are still "looking into it." I understand the case was referred to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission but no action so far.

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