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Les soldats de la Grande Guerre : Projet de biographies historiques sur les soldats de Fredericton

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Patterson, Miles B.

Sergeant 430114
48th Battalion, British Columbia
3rd Canadian Pioneer Battalion
7th Battalion, 1st British Columbia

Background

Sergeant Miles B. Patterson was born on October 2, 1887 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. He had grey eyes, a dark complexion, and dark brown hair. Miles was the youngest son of Saunders D. Patterson, a farmer and carpenter from Kingsclear Parish, and Maria Ann Cliff. According to the 1901 census, Miles had one sister named Mina and two older brothers named Everett and Ward. Archival records reveal that Miles may have had three other siblings born almost twenty years earlier to his parents, Charles Clowes, who would marry a woman named Sadie, Harley, and Mary. Together, the Patterson family occupied a dwelling at 157 Aberdeen Street although records reveal that a residence was also maintained by someone in the family at 207 Smythe Street.

At the outbreak of war, the 1911 census confirms that Miles was living in Vancouver on 849 Hamilton Street with his brother Everett while his older brother Ward was living in Alberta after having graduated from the University of New Brunswick in 1903. Ward had moved to Calgary to study law and would enlist with an Alberta Battalion, earning the rank of lieutenant during the war. Miles, working as an electrician at the time, would chose to enlist for service with the 48th Battalion in Victoria, a British Columbian regiment. Upon enlisting Miles claimed to have had some prior military experience and would be given the rank of lance corporal, corporal, and then sergeant while in France, perhaps because of his proven abilities and maturity as well as his previous experience as a professional electrician. On the 15 of March, 1915 Miles enlisted in Victoria, British Columbia at the age of 27. Standing five foot nine inches tall, Miles was the ideal civilian soldier with a professional trade, life experience and maturity, as well as the physical stature to endure what awaited them in Europe. While Miles’ brother, Lieutenant Ward H. Patterson would later return home in 1919, Miles would never see his family again.

Wartime Experience

Miles B Patterson’s unit, the 48th Battalion from British Columbia, sailed on July 1, 1915 from Canada and arrived in England July 10 at Shorncliffe. The fall and winter was particularly hard on Miles as he would be in and out of hospital with a variety of ailments between October and January. In January of 1916, the 48th was renamed the 3rd Canadian Pioneers and left for France March 9, 1916 from England. Given the newly formed unit, Miles was promoted to lance corporal and then corporal once in the field where his unit was active during the Somme battles. On September 9, 1916, during Canadian involvement with the Somme campaign, records indicate that Miles was wounded in the face and in his right eye by shrapnel fire and remained in line. After spending a few days in the hospital he was sent back to his unit October 5th. For the next five months, Miles would remain with the 3rd Pioneers until admitting himself to hospital for five days, for reasons unknown.

On May 8, 1917 Miles was transferred to the 123rd Battalion, Royal Grenadiers, where he would be involved in work facilitating the flow of troops and goods, as well as helping with roads and fortifying the front lines. In the summer of 1917, July 9, Miles put in a request to join the 7th Battalion, in all likelihood, a request to rejoin his British Columbian infantry mates in the line and would be granted his first and only ten day leave of absence to Paris. He would later return to northern France and remain with the 7th through the summer and fall, as the Passchendaele battles began and as Canadians began a more active role in and around Ypres. On November 10, 1917 as the 7th Battalion was active pushing the Germans beyond the Passchendaele Ridge northwest of the town, reports claim the early hours of the morning brought heavy fire upon his unit and Miles was seen wounded in the field. A letter written home by his brother, Lieutenant Ward H. Patterson, reveals the confusion the family was feeling at the time Miles went missing.

Dear Mother and Father,

I have a very difficult letter to write. Until two days ago I had, for the past five weeks, been constantly up the line or in support absolutely unable to move about to get more information about Miles. Two days ago I visited his battalion and learned that on November 10th, after Miles was wounded, he was taken to the advanced dressing station, had his wound dressed and was sent back out along with other wounded casualties… they have never since been heard from. I am wretchedly sorry to have to write this to you, but there is no good object served by keeping news back or by keeping you in suspense. It is well known that at Passchendaele a great number of the wounded were killed and buried or lost on their way out of the line. I am very sorry to have written you before raising false hopes. For my own part, I have not the slightest doubt that Miles was killed while on the way out from the lines and his platoon commander and his comrades have also no doubt about it. I have talked to men and officers about Miles and have learned that he was very popular and was a general favorite. His loss is mourned sincerely and his platoon officer said that Miles was “simply one of the best”. That is the highest praise that can be given and it means much, especially when the standard here is wonderfully high. There are a few whom the officers and men especially respect and admire and of these they say, “He is one of the best”. Miles lived a pure, clean, life and he died a hero fighting for a great cause.

Your affectionate son,

Sergeant Ward.”

Known to his mates as “Cy”, after being wounded in the field Miles would never be seen again and would become one of the many thousands whose bodies would never be recovered.

Lest We Forget

Sergeant Miles B. Patterson is honoured and remembered in Ypres, Belgium at the Menin Gate Memorial. The war would come to an end exactly one year and a day later after his death. Miles died honourably with his “mates”, the 7th Battalion, and was one of the thousands of Canadians that would never return home and have no known grave.

*This biography was researched and written by Lucas Glenn, Grade 8 student (2015-2016) at George Street Middle School located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

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