First World War Canadian Soldiers Buried at Englefield Green

Great War Cross of Sacrifice, Englefield Green, 1929 (SHC Ref 2118/1/18)

Great War Cross of Sacrifice, Englefield Green, 1929 (SHC Ref 2118/1/18)

On Sunday the 10th of November 1929 a Cross of Sacrifice was unveiled and dedicated in St Jude’s Cemetery in Englefield Green, Egham, Surrey. The Cross was “Erected by the Imperial War Graves Commission to the memory of 62 members of His Majesty’s Forces who gave their lives for their King and Country in the Great War, 1914–18, and whose bodies are buried in this Cemetery.

Of the 62 people recorded on the Cross of Sacrifice, 30 served with the Canadian Forestry Corps, one with the 85th Battalion Canadian Infantry and one with the 14th Battalion Canadian Infantry. Click here to see a transcript of the list of names which appeared in the 1929 Programme for the unveiling ceremony for the Englefield Green Cross of Sacrifice. Click on the image below to see a pdf (PDF) copy of the original list of names in the Programme.

Roll of Honour for the Great War Cross of Sacrifice, Englefield Green, 1929 (SHC Ref 2118/1/18) Click on the image to see a larger (pdf) copy.

Roll of Honour for the Great War Cross of Sacrifice, Englefield Green, 1929 (SHC Ref 2118/1/18) Click on the image to see a larger (pdf) copy.

On 15 February 1916 the Colonial Secretary, The Right Honourable Andrew Bonar Law, wrote to the then Governor-General of Canada, H.R.H Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn:

H.M. Government would be grateful if the Canadian Government would assist in the production of timber for War purposes.

The formation of the 224th Canadian Forestry Battalion was authorised by the Department of Militia and Defence by 25th February and within six weeks 1,600 men were recruited and mobilised at Quebec. Men from the Battalion with their own logging equipment started arriving in England in April 1916. The first timber cutting was undertaken at Virginia Water, near Egham, where 124 Canadians were based in June 1916. The potential contribution of the Foresters to the war effort was quickly realised by Lord Kitchener and men from the Battalion were transferred to France. Later in 1916 the British Government requested further assistance from Canada and additional Battalions were formed and men were quickly recruited and sent to England.

A Base Depot was established at Smith’s Lawn, Windsor Great Park, on 6 January 1917. Up until the end of April 1918 an average of 1,500 men of all ranks passed through the Base, a total of 24,000 men. The vegetable farm at the Base was one of the largest of its kind in Great Britain, and the piggeries were a particular success. One of the Companies erected a typical log building in front of the West Terrace of Windsor Castle for the King as a memorial of the Corps. It remained there until the early 1930s when it was removed during alterations at the Castle.

The Canadian Forestry Corps had a hospital at Beech Hill in Englefield Green and nearby was the Princess Christian Military Hospital, in huts.

John Chookomolin, a member of the Cree nation, died from pneumonia at Windlesham Court Military Hospital. His name was anglicised as John Jakomolin on his enlistment papers. Find out more about John’s story on the Native Veterans website. The spelling of John’s name on his gravestone was orignially the anglicised version. Following a campaign by the family and supporters in Englefield Green the Commonwealth War Graves Commission changed the inscription to the correct Cree spelling on 15 July 2016. Read more on the Timmins Press website.

Two of the men serving with the Canadian Forestry Corps and recorded on the memorial are Americans. The United States remained neutral in the war until April 1917. Thousands of Americans went north to Canada to enlist. It is estimated that close to 40,000 Americans joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

The Canadian Virtual War Memorial Website contains more details on the men buried at Englefield Green and many other Canadian war casualties.

Read more about Englefield Green.

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