Sunday, 5 October 2014

Russell Heath Boulton (1884-1918)

A tour through the Brandon General Museum and  Archives this summer led to the discovery of a Boulton who had lost his life in WW1.  Although I can't find any connection between his family and ours, it makes a story that I will tell nevertheless.  The online Canadian Virtual War Memorial was the source for the photo above and much of the factual information that follows.  His service file is digitized online at Library and Archives Canada.  The link is here and it is a big file, 53 pages of various papers and pay information in a PDF format. 
Russell Health Boulton was born in Russell, Manitoba on February 24, 1884, one of seven children of Charles Akroll Boulton and Augusta Latter.  Augusta, or Gussie, has a most interesting biography online at the Manitoba Historical Society.  Their original home still stands as Boulton Manor, at one time a Bed & Breakfast in Russell, now a private home.

Charles Akroll Boulton (1841-1899)
Charles was a farmer and is also well known for his rivalry with Louis Riel in the 1880's. He was the son of Lieutenant-Colonel D'Arcy Boulton and Emily Heath. In the spring of 1880 he headed west to Manitoba and took up land along the proposed railway, settling in Section 5, Twp 23, Range 27, in the present day Boulton Municipality. In the fall, Boulton met his family in Winnipeg and travelling by wagon with a yoke of oxen and horses, led his family to their new farm. The following spring, they moved some 15 miles away where Boulton laid the groundwork for the town of Russell.  In 1885 he organized and led a Corps known as "Boulton's Scouts" who fought at Fish Creek and Batoche during the Northwest Rebellion and was eventually appointed as a Senator.  Today a monument stands in the town of Russell dedicated to the men of Boulton's Scouts. Three sons of Charles and Augusta served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in WW1: Major Lawrence Boulton, Major Darcy Boulton along with Lieutenant Russell Heath Boulton.

Russell  became a Barrister and Solicitor, practicing in Brandon, Manitoba. He married Edna Mary Lee in the town of Russell on December 2, 1914.  On January 10, 1916,  he made the decision to join the 200th Canadian Battalion, part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force as a lieutenant.  

Russell went overseas under Lieut-Col Angus Bonnycastle (the husband of his sister Ellen Mary) and upon arrival in France on September 5, 1917 he was transferred to the 3rd Canadian Engineers. A stay in hospital is reported on October 18,1917 when he contracted German Measles. His record shows from January 26 - February 16, 1918 he was granted 14 days leave to the U.K.  It all came to an end for Russell on August 14, 1918 and to quote his casualty report:

This officer was in charge of his Battalion's Machine Gun Anti-Aircraft  Defenses during the attack near Beaucourt Wood.  He was walking alone between the machine gun positions when an enemy aircraft dropped a large bomb which exploded within fifty feet of him, wounding him in the abdomen, left leg and left hand.  He was immediately attended to and carried to Battalion Headquarters where his wounds were dressed by another officer.  He was fully conscious and suffering very little.  Later he was evacuated to No. 49 Casualty Clearing Station, where he succumbed to his wounds.  
Casualty Report for Russell Heath Boulton 08/14/1918

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Website gives details of the burial Place of Russell Boulton.  He is laid to rest along with 13 other Canadians who died in the same few days. He is buried in Boves West Communal Cemetery in Somme, France. Boves has two communal cemeteries, on either side of the river. The 49th Casualty Clearing Station was at Boves to the end of August 1918. This website also says his stone is inscribed with:

Be Thou Faithful Unto Death and I will Give Thee a Crown of Life

The following clipping announced his death in the Toronto Star in September of 1918.

The seven Books of Remembrance lie in the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. When the Peace Tower was first created, the intention was that all names of Canadians who died during the battles of the First World War would be engraved on the walls of the Memorial Chamber. However, it was soon realized that there would not be enough space on the walls to contain the more than 66,000 names of those who died. Instead, the books were created and they commemorate the lives of more than 118,000 Canadians who, since Confederation, have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country in uniform. Each day, during a ceremony, the page is turned and the one bearing Russell's name is displayed annually on August 13, the day before his death. This page is pictured below.