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Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Soldiers of the Great War; The Fredericton Soldier Biography History Initiative

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Wetmore, Allen Rainsford

Gunner 1257849
9th Battery, Canadian Siege Battery

Background

Allen Rainsford Wetmore was born July 2, 1898 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. According to his attestation papers and the 1901 census, he lived at 731 Brunswick Street with his mother, Ida Kathleen Wetmore, his father, Andrew Rainsford Wetmore and his younger sister, Margaret Wetmore. Both Allen and his family were all born in New Brunswick. Before Allen enlisted with the 9th Siege Battery in Fredericton, October 13, 1916, he was a student at the Fredericton High School which was, at the time, situated on the corner of George and York Street later to be moved to the present location of George Street Middle School in 1924, before its final relocation to where it stands presently near Prospect Street. According to his service records, Allen was five feet seven inches tall, weighed 140 pounds, had blue eyes and he had light hair. He had a fair complexion and his religious affiliation was the Church of England. Allen Rainsford Wetmore was 18 years old when he joined the 9th Siege Battery and according to documents, it is very possible that he was friends with Walter McAdam, also a member of the 9th. Like many people living in downtown Fredericton at the time, they lived very close to each other when they were both students at FHS and enlisted for service on the same day. They were also in the same battalions throughout the war. Allen was just 18 years of age when he left to go overseas, never again to return to his family and friends.

Wartime Experience

Allen left Halifax, Nova Scotia on March 4, 1917 and arrived in Liverpool, England on March 15th, 1917. According to his active service record, he remained in England while training until he was taken on strength as reinforcement and attached to the 4th Canadian Siege Battery during the Third Battle of Ypres, and later at Passchendaele. It was a series of bloody attacks in Belgium, just north of the French border, where 20, 000 soldiers inched across waterlogged ground ripped apart by explosives. Those who perished did so under enemy fire, but many simply disappeared in the mud or into water-filled shell holes. The battles occurred from July 31 to November 10, 1917. The second phase of the battle began on October 30, an attack on the village itself to regain what was thought of as important strategic ground; however, many agree that the location held very little tactical importance. The battle cost Canada nearly 16, 000 casualties. Allen had only been in the field on active duty for 20 days after having landed at Boulonge on October 18, 1917. Allen would not survive, being killed in action three days before the battle was over on November 7, 1917 along with five others from the original 9th Siege Battery. According to a letter written home to family, one that would be printed in newspapers, Captain G.B. Wetmore describes the death of his cousin explaining that "in the case of all six they never could have known what happened or suffered a moment's pain... They are buried side by side in one of the many little plots of crosses so common in this poor, unfortunate country". Allen Rainsford Wetmore was only 19 years old.

Lest We Forget

Allen Rainsford Wetmore is memorialized and remembered with honour at the Potijze Chateau Grounds Cemetery, outside Ypres, Belgium. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, he is one of 850 casualties who now lay to rest in the Potijze Chateau Grounds Cemetery, many of whom fought in the Third Battle of Ypres and Passchendaele. Its location was located behind the allied trenches remaining intact during the entire war.

*This biography was researched and written by Victoria Matthews, a Grade 8 student (2016-2017) at George Street Middle School located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

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