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

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Vradenburgh, William

Private 1257852
9th Siege Battery
1st Brigade, Canadian Garrison Artillery

Background

Gunner William H. Vradenburg was born on August 11, 1898 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, to William Henry Vradenburg and Alice Louise Gough. William’s father worked in Fredericton as a carpenter and, according to records, the family lived at 531 Brunswick Street before moving to 230 Carleton Street. He had two brothers, Corporal Percy Vradenburg, who would also serve during the war, and John C., who worked for the Royal Bank in Saint John. His two sisters were Francis, a school teacher in Saint John, and Josephine, known in the Fredericton community as “Jessie”. According to newspapers, William grew up in Fredericton with his family while attending school and was described as an “exceptionally bright young man”. After his schooling was complete he worked for the Canadian Bank of Commerce in Fredericton before transferring to the bank’s branch in Sherbrooke, Quebec. A hard working young man, William was advancing in his career as a banker when war broke out in the late summer of 1914.

Already with a brother who had enlisted to fight, by October of 1916, William was living in North Hatley, Quebec when he chose to give up a promising career to fight for his country. According to his attestation, Private Vradenburg had no prior military experience when he enlisted in Sherbrooke, Quebec on October 16, 1916, and he was not married. A slight five feet seven inches tall, William had a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. He would return to New Brunswick a month later where he would join other Fredericton boys in Saint John who had signed up with the 9th Siege Battery. Only 18 years age, Private William H. Vradenburg would never return home although newspapers indicate he wrote home often to tell of his experiences.

Wartime Experience

After joining the 9th Siege Battery in Saint John, Gunner Vradenburg trained with his unit at Partridge Island over the winter of 1916-1917 until his battery left for England from Halifax on March 4, 1917. The New Brunswick boys arrived in Liverpool, England eleven days later on March 15. He would be with his unit for training in England for five months until the 9th Siege Battery was absorbed into the 1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery in the summer of 1917. William would leave with the 1st Brigade, CFA in late August for France.

Newspapers reveal that over his two years of service, the young gunner always wrote letters of optimism and encouragement about the progress of the war. After serving with the 1st Brigade, Canadian Heavy Artillery for almost a year throughout northern France, by September 1918, William and the 9th Siege Battery was near Chateau de la Haie, an area in and around Vimy. According to the official war diary of the 1st Brigade, which the 9th was a part of, by September they were providing fire support for “opportunity targets” including aeroplanes and harassing fire to neutralize German positions on the Queant-Drocourt line, south-west of Vimy. In what the Daily Gleaner described as “brilliant work of Canadian troops” Gunner William Vradenburg was part of one the most successful periods of fighting by Canadians during the First World War. By September 3, 1918, newspapers were reporting “ten thousand Germans were captured and many more killed” during fighting that saw rapid German retreat throughout Flanders and northern France. During a time in the war when Canadians were having tremendous success to bring an end to the war, on September 3, 1918, William lost his life. He was only 19 years old. Little is known about what exactly happened to William during this time because his circumstances of death record has not survived. However, newspapers reveal that news of his death in Fredericton on September 12, 1918 was “fearfully sudden” and met with “sincere regret”.

Lest We Forget

William H. Vradenburg is remembered and buried at Upton Wood Cemetery, Hendecourt-Les-Cagnicourt, France because of his involvement with the 9th Siege Battery in the Arras region. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the cemetery has 218 identified casualties and has eight burials of soldiers who are unidentified. The cemetery was designed by G.H. Goldsmith.

*This biography was researched and written by Grace Murdoch, Isaac Seale & Brooklyn Power, Grade 8 students (2015-2016) at George Street Middle School located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

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