Thursday, 10 November 2016

Norman Stanley Cassel - WW1 soldier and casualty

Photo from ancestry contributor dianadandrade
Norman Stanley Cassel was born September 4, 1895 to James "Jim" Cassel and the former Almeda Babcock.  He was the grandson of John Cassel which made him a nephew to William. His first cousin, Ernest Leroy Cassel lead a surprisingly parallel life to Norman and I wonder whether they were aware of each other.

The day after Norman was born near Sharbot Lake, Ontario, his two and a half year old sister Martha Adeline died of what is described as an inflammation of the lungs.  That could have been pneumonia or even an asthma like condition but of course no medicines existed to help cure either.  There were two older siblings and seven more were born to Jim and Almeda after Norman. On the 1901 census, the Cassel family are listed as farming in the Oso Township.

On December 19, 1915, Norman enlisted at Westport, ON and was given #835152.  His enlistment form declared he had been part of the 47th Regiment for 2 years previously so his prior experience would have made him a valuable recruit.  As a Private, Norman was sent to the 102nd Battalion of the Canadian Infantry.  All 76 pages of his file are available from the Library and Archives Canada website here.  It includes the details of his treatment for a sprained shoulder, a contusion, and tonsillitis over the next 2 years. In the summer of 1918, Norman was fined one day's pay for "losing government property by neglect".  Assigned pay of $15 a month was being sent back to his mother Almeda in Westbrook during his absence.

In one of the last battles of WW1 near Bourlon Wood in France, 23 year old Norman paid the ultimate price of war. The Canadian troops led by General Sir Arthur Currie were charged with capturing a hill as one of the final assaults on September 27, 1918.  The casualty report says:
While in a sunken road West of Bourlon Wood, he was hit in the head by a shell splinter and instantly killed.
 N. S. Cassel is buried 4 1/2 miles south of Cambrai at the Anneux British Cemetery with 1, 012 other soldiers from Canada, New Zealand and the UK. A video at this link shows the lonely cemetery. The inscription on his gravestone, chosen by his family, says
Our Loved Soldier
Sacrifice is Felt
Very Greatly
The Daily British Whig newspaper published in Kingston printed the following death notice in their November 22, 1918 edition.

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