Private Harry Bertrand Sample

Harry Bertrand Sample was born March 7, 1897 in London Twp., Middlesex Co., Ontario but for the most part of his life lived in Kent County, Ontario.

He graduated from Blenheim Continuation School in 1912 and then from normal school (teachers' college). He had just moved to Alberta to begin his teaching career and to take up a homestead near Irvine, Alberta. Instead, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Army when the general mobilisation call went out as the Great War in Europe intensified and the need for more troops developed.

He signed up for military service on January 1, 1916 at Calgary, Alberta and was immediately posted to the Canadian Army Medical Corps (Section C, No. 1 Field Ambulance Depot) in Edmonton, Alberta for training. He embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia on May 22, 1916 on board the "S.S. Baltic" and disembarked at Liverpool, England seven days later; for a short while he was stationed in Dibgate, England beginning May 31, 1916. He was transferred June 18, 1916 to the Shornecliffe Military Hospital at Dibgate where he remained until he was again transferred to 21st Reserve Battalion at Seaford, Co. Sussex, England on March 15, 1917. On July 5, 1917, he was assigned to the 50th Battalion for service at the front and joined his unit on September 1,1917.

Harry Bertrand Sample, serial number 523031, Private, 50th Battalion, Alberta Regiment was killed during an enemy artillery barrage during the Battle of Passchendaele. In a sadly curious twist of history, his death occurred on his elder brother Clare's birthday; Private William Clare Sample, in turn, fell under like circumstances, just four days later.

Harry Bertrand has no known or marked grave; his name is inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial near Ypres in Belgium along with those of others in his regiment, including his older brother, Clare. A memorial stone to honor the two brothers was erected by Matilda Ann (Quackenbush) Sample in Evergreen Cemetery near Blenheim, Ontario. Also, a plaque in his memory was mounted on the walls of Blenheim Presbyterian (United) Church. For his service and sacrifice, he was awarded the British War Memorial and the Victory Medal. According to documents at the National Archives of Canada, these medals, together with a Memorial Cross were sent to his mother.

Thomas Eric Sample, the younger brother of Harry and Clare Sample, passed on these poignant recollections of the deaths of his elder brothers. When word was received of the death of Harry Bertrand, Charles Clement, a prominent merchant in Chatham and a cousin by marriage, came to the school Thomas was attending in Chatham to give him the sad news and to drive him back to the family home in Blenheim to be with his mother and his younger sister. Coming into Blenheim, Thomas saw that the flag at the town hall had already been lowered to half-mast in honour of his brother, so he knew that word had already got around the community. After a period of a few days, Mr. Clement came by to take him back to school in Chatham. While on the way, the two noticed the flag in front of the town hall being lowered again. He recalled thinking to himself that some other family would be mourning the loss of a loved one. He was unaware until he returned to his classes that the flag was in fact being lowered for his other brother Clare who had been killed in action four days after Harry.

This account was contributed by James Maurice Sample, great-nephew of Harry and Clare Sample.

Private Harry Bertrand Sample's Obituary
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