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

All explanatory text, archival descriptions, narratives, database headings, and navigation assistance on the web site of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick are provided in both English and French. When content is extracted from a document for insertion in a database or to be presented as a facsimile, it is provided in the language of the original.

Gartley, Raymond Medley

Private 709226
104th Battalion, New Brunswick
5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles

Background

Private Raymond Medley Gartley was born on July 27, 1897 in St. Stephen, New Brunswick to Gertrude Agnes Bennet and Henry Osbourne Gartley. According to records, Raymond was the oldest of three children to Agnes and Henry, his twin sisters, Martha and Mary, being born two years after him in 1899. The 1911 Census shows that Martha and Mary would later go by their middle names Elsie and Elva. Raymond’s father was a farmer and labourer from the area, and his mother, Agnes, was from Fredericton born into a loyalist family from England. Records suggest that at a very early age, Raymond’s father passed away, causing the family to move back to Fredericton where they had a home at 262 Regent Street.

Being the oldest child in the home, it was likely important for him to find work and so Raymond began work as a bellhop at the Queen Hotel in Fredericton. Newspapers reveal that he would become well-known to the public and was a general favourite with anyone who met him. By the time war came to the area, like so many young boys, the pressure and excitement to join likely became too great for young Raymond. According to his attestation papers, by October 25, 1915, Raymond was in Sussex, New Brunswick, enlisting with the 104th Battalion, New Brunswick. The young Private Gartley, only eighteen years of age and unmarried, had no prior military experience and stood five feet six inches tall. He had a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. He would train over the winter of 1915-1916 with other Fredericton boys enlisted with the 104th, not leaving to go overseas until the spring of 1916. Raymond would never return home to Fredericton and his family.

Wartime Experience

Private Raymond M. Gartley would leave with the 104th Battalion from Halifax, Nova Scotia, aboard the S.S. Olympic on June 28, 1916, just as the Somme campaign was about to begin in Europe. His unit would arrive July 6 at Liverpool, England and would train over the summer and fall. By early December, Raymond had joined the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles at Whitley Camp and left to go overseas headed to the front by December 7, 1916. Just before leaving, Raymond would name his mother in his formal will. Over the winter of 1916-1917, Raymond shifted with his unit to the Artois region of France in preparations for the Vimy Ridge attacks that would begin in April of 1917.

According to the official war diary of the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles, Private Gartley would be held in reserve support with the 5th CMR for the 1st, 2nd and, 4th Mounted Rifles units going forward during the opening attack at Vimy Ridge, the morning of April 9, 1917. At 5:30 a.m., while in position the 5th reported an “intense artillery bombardment… one continuous roar that causes the ground to tremble and there is mingled with it the roar of the guns and the swishing and screeching of the shell-filled air. 60 guns are covering our own advance, forming a rolling barrage.” Private Gartley’s roll early on in the Vimy Ridge attack was to provide material and structural support to ensure attacking units had the resources to obtain their objectives. This might involve moving into the forward lines as a working party digging dugouts or moving forward to provide additional ammunition and supplies to sustain the attack. If casualties became too great, it could mean replacing units all together. At some point during the first day of the Canadian Corps’ assault at Vimy Ridge, Private Gartley would be killed and his body would never be recovered.

On Tuesday, April 24, 1917, the Daily Gleaner would report the news of his death as names of other well-known boys from Fredericton would also be reported either killed or missing. While Vimy Ridge would become known as a great victory for Canadians and the Allies, the news would be met with tremendous grief for families. Mrs. Gartley would receive the news of her only son’s passing the morning of April 24. Private Raymond Medley Gartley was 19 years old.

Lest We Forget

Private Gartley is remembered with honour on the Vimy Memorial located in Vimy, France dedicated to all Canadians who gave their lives in service during the First World War. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the memorial bears the names of approximately 11, 000 Canadians who died in France with no known grave.

*This biography was researched and written by Mohammed Shawesh, Lexie Boyle & Shirley Andow, Grade 7 and 8 students (2015-2016) at George Street Middle School located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

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