"Somewhere in France"

No. 104419, James Sim McLeod, Private 


The Bednall Archive

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James Sim McLeod, born in 2 October 1892, was the son on of Mrs. Isabella Rennie, of 2 Union Street,  Rosehearty, Fraserburgh, Scotland where he attended the local Presbyterian Church.
  Sometime before the 1st World War he emigrated to Canada and when war broke out, he was a farmer working on the Experimental Farm at Indian Head, a beautiful, middle-sized prairie town  in the prairie of south eastern Saskatchewan, Canada, just 42 miles east of of the capital, Regina.  James, then described as almost 5' 9" tall, with a fair complexion,  grey eyes and brown hair, enjoyed good health and was looking forward to establishing himself and perhaps later a family of his own, in this new, opportunity full, country.  

Events in the Old World were, however, to draw him back to it and on the 26th  of July 1915,  he and a number of friends went into Regina and enlisted in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force.   Six days later he wrote to his mother informing her that he  was going to Regina the following day to "join the colors".  He wasn't alone for, as he told her,  "there are twenty-five of us leaving Indian Head Tomorrow night for Regina and they are all pretty nice fellows".  Like many others, he made his will before leaving and told his mother where his belongings were, stating, optimistically,  that he "expected to be home in about six months" and to "hope for the best".  He wrote to his mother again but only a fragment of one of these letters survives.  In it he mentions that he had $400 in the Union Bank at Indian Head and that his employers were still paying his wages into it.

James had enlisted as a  Private (No. 104419) in the 52nd Battalion the Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) and after basic training landed in France as a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in February 1916.  Moving up to the front a month later the battalion was soon heavily engaged the first of a succession of  battles including that for Vimy Ridge in which  2959 of its soldiers were to lose their lives, on the 29 June 1917, during the three day battle that led to the capture of Avion. 24 year old James Sim McLeod was one of them.


James  left all he had to his mother and this eventually included a gratuity equal to two months payable "in the event of the death of an employee of the Government". The aftermath of sorting out all James Mcleod's affairs took several years as the above documents show. What they can't show is the grief of his mother and family.

 James Sim McLeod has "no known grave".  His sacrifice is commemorated, 
with that many thousands of Canadian servicemen who died in France, 
on the Vimy Memorial overlooking the Douai Plain from 
Vimy Ridge, northeast of Arras.


Experimental Farm

James' Enlistment


AWBednall-Macclesfield 2000-2008