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John William Smailes

Borden Dairy war memorial in Toronto, Canada
Borden Dairy war memorial in Toronto.

Corporal John William Smailes

Corporal John William Smailes  of the Canadian Infantry, Quebec Regiment 42nd Bn. Service No. 192339, died in France on September 30th 1918, aged 31. The armistice to end the war was signed six weeks later.

John is buried at the Mill Switch British Cemetery at Tilloy Les Cambrai. As well as being remembered on the Craster war memorials in the Chapel and in St Peter's church, he is remembered on the Borden Company war memorial in Toronto, Canada.

John was born on October 2nd 1888. He was the son of John A. Smailes and Jane Smailes of North Craster. John's cousins, brothers Luke Robson Smailes and Robert Smailes, were also killed in the war.

The 1911 census returns shows that John was single and an inshore fisherman, with a part share in a coble. At some time John emigrated to Canada, where he worked as a driver for Borden Co. Ltd at the City Dairy in Toronto. The same company employed his cousins Luke Robson and John William Smailes His 'joining up' papers, known formally as an Attestation Paper was approved on August 20th 1915 in Toronto. This document included the information that John was still single, that he had served for four months in the 48th Highlanders and that he was a Methodist. He enlisted in the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force.

Tilloy village was captured by the Canadian Corps at the end of September 1918, and the cemetery was made by the Corps Burial Officer in the following month. The name is due to a switch line from the Cambrai-Douai railway which ran in September 1918, to a large German supply dump on the site of the mill 800 metres North-West of the cemetery. There are now over 100, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site.

The Mill Switch British Cemetery at Tilloy Les Cambrai.
Mill Switch British Cemetery at Tilloy Les Cambrai, John's gravestone photographed May 2011

John's battalion's war diary shows that the battalion fought in the Battle of the Canal du Nord. This was an important part of the 'big push' that led to the signing of the Armistice on November 11th, some seven weeks after John's death.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission - John William Smailes

Veterans' Affairs Canada - John William Smailes

Library and Archives, Canada - John William Smailes

Attestation Paper, Front

Attestation Paper, Back

John William Smailes, Grave

Roll of Honour Certificate

John William Smailes and his brother Robert

War Diary of the 42nd Battalion, C.E.F. 3rd Division

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