3 p.m., April 11)
Honouring Navan and Cumberland's Vimy Ridge vets
By Fred Sherwin
The Orléans Star
Canada commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Battle
of Vimy Ridge, its important to acknowledge and
pay tribute to the boys from Navan and Cumberland who
took part in the campaign.
resident Fred Muggleton holds a picture of
his father George, who served in the artillery
during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Fred Sherwin/Photo
Muggleton was a farmhand when he joined the army in September,
1914. He was one of more than 36 men from Cumberland township
who answered the call to serve when the war broke out.
of the young men were in their late teens and early 20s.
Burns was working on a farm in Alberta when he joined.
Robert Kennedy was working on the family farm near Orléans.
three men would end up serving in the artillery, which
is where many of the farmers who volunteered ended up.
They knew their horses and could hitch and drive a team
carrying the big guns and the ammunition cartridges through
Kennedy and Burns saw action in every major battle of
the war Ypres, Passchendaele, The Somme and Vimy.
Muggletons son Fred says his father didnt
talk about the war very much. It was only later in life
that he opened up and offered a few insights about his
experiences, including the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
father said, he knew something big was coming up and that
was Vimy Ridge, says Muggleton, who lives in Navan
with his wife Jean. It was the first time they used
the tactic of a rolling barrage, so they fired in advance
of the infantry and allow them to move forward. It was
the first time they used that tactic and it was a Canadian
Canadians bombarded the German positions on Vimy Ridge
for 13 straight days using 245 heavy guns and 600 pieces
of field artillery.
more than a million rounds of ammunition, weighing more
than 50,000 tons, fell on the Germans who dubbed the week
leading up to the final battle for Vimy Ridge the
week of suffering.
the impact of the artillery barrage, Pierre Burton wrote
in his book Vimy, It was the gunners, stripped to
the waist, sweating despite the wind and the sleet, labouring
hour after hour without rest, or let up, who were the
real victors in the battle to seize the ridge.
resident Bob Burns' father, Martin, also served
in the artillery during the Battle of Vimy
Ridge. Fred Sherwin/Photo
at the artillery positions were nearly as bad as in the
trenches. The predominant feature was mud.
says his father said they would sleep on the gun barrels,
or on top of the magazine cases to avoid sleeping in the
Burns says his father Martin never spoke about the war
wasnt something he liked to talk about. He carried
some scars with him for the rest of his life. He had some
shrapnel in his knees that effected him quite a bit,
says Burns who also lives in Navan.
and Muggleton werent the only boys from Navan who
volunteered at the outbreak of the war. They were joined
by Jim Shaw, Jack Pruner, Tom Melvin and several other
young men from the area, while others would
follow in service to their country.
Kennedy was so certain that the war would be over in a
few months, he never took the time to say goodbye to his
fiancée Eva. She would end up serving in the nursing
corps and the two would marry soon after the war ended.
many of the boys from Cumberland would never come back.
There are 15 names on the Cenotaph in Navan of men who
paid the ultimate sacrifice and didnt make it back.
Another seven names are on the Cenotaph in Cumberland
Village. In total, 28 men from Cumberland Township were
killed during the First World War.
was heavy toll to pay when you considered the population
of the township was fraction of what it is today.
Burns and Fred Muggleton are grateful their fathers did
return from the war, but they are even more grateful to
those who werent able to make it back.
proud and thankful, really, says Burns. For
a small community like Navan to send so many of its boys
over there, and a lot of them never came back, its
really something and it tugs at your heart strings.
it definitely is, and was.
to right) Navan chums Jack Pruner, Martin
Burns, Tom Melvin and George Muggleton were
among the first Canadian soldiers deployed
in the European Theatre during the First World
War. Photo courtesy of Fred Muggleton
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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