First World War

Artifact W1-05: Reminiscences of an Artilleryman

Provided by Robert Merritt with input from Anne Merritt.

w1-5-2 Copy

Sergeant Merritt’s son reports that the medal was presented by King George V and, inscribed around the edge is: 302 227 Gnr A Bmbr R.L. Merritt Can F.A.

 During his time on the Western Front, Sergeant Merritt kept a diary.  His cryptic entries from 1918, as seen in the collection below, provide inklings of a soldier’s existence and of the horrors of life at the front. Note his entry for the end of the war on 11 November 1918

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Sgt. Merritt’s Diary

w1-5-4 Copy 11 March 1918: Reach horse lines 4p.m. on Arras – Bethune Road.

14 March 1918: Come to guns. Left section forward. Gas at 9.30

15 March 1918: We raid at 5.30. 110 rds. A few prisoners today.

w1-5-5 Copy 17 March 1918: Pull gun out on open. 25 oR (indistinct). 80 rds on mach guns at 11pm

20 March 1918: Pay day

21 March 1918: Gunners change. I stay on.

23 March 1918: Sudden move to Ghellus (?) X roads on Ridge

w1-5-6 Copy 26 March 1918: Move 500 yds ahead, near brow.

29 March 1918: Battle on right flank of barrage gas

30 March 1918: Buck & Connors come up.

w1-5-7 Copy 29 June 1918: Go into action at Cigny relieving (sic) 20 Btty.
w1-5-8 Copy 5 August 1918: Rubins killed

7 August 1918: Move out of Boves W (?) at night

8 August 1918: See Roy G. at 6. AM

Cross line at 9. AM

9 August 1918: advance

10 August 1918: Stand in reserve at noon behind Bouchoir

w1-5-9 Copy 19 August 1918: Leave Cayeux

20 August 1918: Près Camor (?)

21 August 1918: à Fièffes ( ?)

22 August 1918: à Rebreuviette

23 August 1918 : Sais pas

Go in at Arras

w1-5-10 Copy 11 November 1918: Der Tag

In addition to the information provided by Robert Merritt, the following was provided by Anne Merritt, grand-daughter of Roland Merritt, and wife of Robert Hamilton, the Secretary of the FCWM.

 “The Merritt family are of Loyalist stock settling in the Niagara peninsula in the late 18th century. William Hamilton Merritt was the builder of the Welland canal.

The Merritt family were farmers in the Grimsby area on the Niagara Escarpment.  Roland was born in 1894, and was a teacher at a rural school when he enlisted in April 1915.  On his return to Canada, almost four years later in 1919, he resumed his teaching duties, in Toronto.  He returned to Grimsby to farm once again when he retired from teaching in 1946.”

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