Wednesday, August 7th 1918.
On this day 105 years ago, the Canadian Corps had snuck into position in preparation for the Battle of Amiens. This pivotal moment in history was the first of many successes, known as the Hundred Days Offensive, that led to the end of the First World War.
The Canadian Corps had orders to attack on the morning of August 8th at 4:20 a.m. Unlike earlier attacks, the assault did not start with bombing; instead the Royal Air Force laid smoke over the battlefield, concealing no man’s land and the attacking Canadians.
Ready and waiting was Pte. Sefton Stewart, of the 13th Canadian Battalion. Part of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade, the 13th was ordered to attack with the first wave in the centre of the Brigade’s assault. At exactly 4:20 a.m., 900 Allied guns opened fire and Pte Stewart along with the Canadian Corps moved toward the German lines.
It would be 10 days before news reached the Stewart family in Richmond, Ontario. The Telegraph from Ottawa, dated August 19th 1918 reported, “Deeply regret inform you 145820 Pte Sefton Inglis Stewart infantry officially reported Killed in Action August 8th.”
Tomorrow, August 8th, is the solemn conclusion of Private Sefton Stewart’s story, one that has been shared over the past three years in the form of nearly 70 letters. Sefton’s words were his connection with home, limited in what he could share about his own experience, but always caring about those he loved and about his home. Invited into these personal conversations, we witnessed Sefton’s growth from a young student in 1916, to a wise young man offering his younger siblings advice from his position “Somewhere in France.”
Please join us tomorrow as we recognize Sefton Inglis Stewart and the 105th anniversary of his death. We would like to offer our thanks and gratitude to the Stewart family for entrusting the Museum with their family history and for supporting the With Love to All project over the past three years.
Written with research assistance from Jonah Ellens.