Wednesday, June 30, 1915

Billets – Nouveau Monde

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Left here at 4:00 p.m. and reached Le Crêche about 5:00 p.m.” [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY:  “On the 30th the Battalion made a short march to billets near la Crêche. Here four days were to be spent.”  [2]

In our posting two days ago we read how the City of Toronto insured each soldier from Toronto who volunteered for overseas service for one thousand dollars payable in the event of his death.  Here is a brief biographical sketch of the second of these 14th Battalion men who paid the supreme sacrifice.

PRIVATE BERT ARTHUR PRESANT, No. 26237“Bert joined the Canadian Army on September 22, 1914. He joined at the same time with his older brother Cecil, who is profiled below. The only problem is that he lied about his age. His birth registration from England shows that Bertie Arthur Presant was born on October 17, 1897, so was only 16 at the time he enlisted. These volunteers were supposed to be 18 years of age, but at this time the country was so desperate for recruits, and men so desperate to join for patriotic reasons or a chance to see Europe before the War ended by Christmas that year, that issues such as underage were trivialized or ignored…. The Attestation Paper he filled out to enlist shows that Bert told the military witness that he was born on October 17, 1895, a two year lie….

Between April 22 and April 26, 1915, Bert Presant was killed at age 17 at St. Julien, near Ypres, Belgium, while serving with the 14th Battalion, [Royal] Montreal Regiment. This was called the 2nd Battle of Ypres and the Canadian Forces were faced with the first Western Front application of poison gas by the German Army. At this battle between April 22 to April 26, 1915, the First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force lost one out of every three men.

As with many soldiers of World War I, the body of Bert Presant was never recovered, so his name is inscribed on the Ypres Memorial, otherwise known as the Menin Gate….”

[1]   War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, June 30, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa
[2]   R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pg. 63.
[3]   Based on information taken from: “Presant Family History Web Page”


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