William James Cattanach, MMwBar

With thanks to William M Cattanach for contributing the above photos,
as well as the medal citations for his uncle, and other photos below.  Above on the left was taken in 1912 for the Williamstown Ontario hockey team


Feb 13, 1892

Born at Williamstown Ontario


Aug 7, 1914

Shown on pay sheet for 59th Stormont & Glengarry Regiment


Nov 10, 1914

Promoted to rank of Sgt


Jun 7, 1915

Discharged on enlistment with the 59th Battalion CEF


Jun 8, 1915

Attested into the 59th Battalion (2nd Draft) at Cornwall Ontario 

Ø      Number 454156

Ø      Next of kin given as John Cattanach (father) of Williamstown Ontario

Ø      Previous occupation given as Student

Ø      Previous military experience given as 59th Regiment’s Canal Guard for 10 months with rank of Sgt

Ø      Religion given as Presbyterian

Assigned to "A" Company


Nov 12, 1915

Embarked the SS Missanabie at Montreal Quebec



Nov 23, 1915

Disembarked at Plymouth England and proceeded to West Sandling Camp near Hythe, Kent 

Absorbed into the 39th Battalion 

Promoted to rank of Acting Sgt

While in England with the 39th Battalion, he was employed as a Bayonet Instructor


Sep 7, 1916

Reverts to rank of Pte at own request in order to proceed to France 

Transferred to the 21st Battalion


Sep 8, 1916

Arrived at Canadian Base Depot, Havre France and TOS (Taken On Strength) the 21st Battalion


Sep 18, 1916

Joined the 21st Battalion in the field 

The Battalion had just been relieved from the front line on the Somme where they had suffered 405 casualties in the previous 3 days


Sep 19, 1916

Appointed to rank of L/Cpl to replace RJ Hickey who had been promoted


Oct 28, 1916

Promoted to rank of Sgt to replace Sgt GJL Jones who was declared medically unfit for further service


Dec 5, 1916

Admitted to No 5 CFA (Canadian Field Ambulance) with Laryngitis


Dec 8, 1916

Transferred to Division Rest Station at No 4 CFA


Dec 27, 1916

Returned to duty from hospital


Jan 17, 1917

Admitted to No 5 CFA then transferred to No 22 CCS (Casualty Clearing Station) with a slight shrapnel wound to head


Jan 18, 1917

Transferred to No 22 General Hospital at Camiers


Jan 22, 1917

Transferred to No 6 Convalescent Depot at Etaples


Jan 23, 1917

Transferred to No 5 Convalescent Depot at Cayeux


Mar 7, 1917

Discharged to Canadian Base Depot at Havre and posted to “A” (for men recuperating from wounds)


Mar 12, 1917

Awarded the Military Medal per the London Gazette #29981


This was awarded for his actions during the Calonne Trench Raid, January 17, 1917 and the citation reads "For marked courage and devotion to duty during the attack on the German lines.  Single-handed he succeeded in over coming a large number of the enemy, and by his own personal courage and coolness set an excellent example to his section.   Auth A.F.W. 3121."


Mar 31, 1917

Left CBD to rejoin 21st Battalion


Apr 2, 1917

Rejoined Battalion from Hospital


Jun 27, 1917 Military Medal sent to his mother, Mrs John Cattanach at Williamstown Ontario, by the OMFC(Overseas Military Force of Canada) for "Safe Keeping"


Aug 20, 1917

Admitted to  No 11 General Hospital at Dannes Camiers with shrapnel wound to neck


Nov 1, 1917

Transferred to No 4 General Hospital at Dannes Camiers


Nov 3, 1917

Transferred to No 6 Convalescent Depot at Etaples


Nov 5, 1917

Discharged from No 6 Convalescent Depot at Etaples to the Details Camp


Nov 9, 1917

Arrived at CC Rein C (Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp) and left immediately to join unit


Dec 31, 1917

Granted 14 days leave


Jan 20, 1918

Returned from leave


Jan 25, 1918

Admitted to No 58 CCS for dental care then discharged to CC Rein C


Feb 8, 1918

Rejoined unit from CC Rein C


Apr 2, 1918   Killed in Action


Above is from the 21st Battalion War Diary

Below is a map from the War Diary showing the Company placements.  I have marked in red the area where I believe Sgt Cattanach would have been killed.  If it wasn’t in that spot, it would be in the general area.  This area can be cross referenced to a map of today at Google maps here  Just zoom into the area between Agny and Beaurains, due south of Arras.  Much of this area is still an undeveloped green space and the trench should be easily located today.


Above is from the book "The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders 1783-1951" by Lt Col W.Boss, CD, published in 1952


In 1924 his fiancé, Isabel MacIntosh from Lancaster Ontario,  visited his grave in the Dury Crucifix Cemetery

In the above letter the family was informed that the wood cross had been replaced with a permanent granite headstone.  The date is barely readable, 21 July, 1927.  Below on the left is an early photo of the new headstone, with a more recent photo on the right

Dury Crucifix Cemetery
Pas de Calais, France
The cemetery is located just off the D956 Hwy south east of Arras

Above is a family plot in St Andrew's United Church Cemetery, Williamstown Ontario, honouring Bill Cattanach's sacrifice in The Great War


Apr 25, 1918

Awarded Bar to Military Medal per London Gazette #30652


 This was for his actions during the raid by the German forces on March 4, 1918 and the citation reads "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  In connection with a hostile raid on a large scale when the enemy succeeded in entering our trenches under cover of an intense artillery barrage and the use of the liquid fire.  This NCO proceeded across "No Man's Land" through the intense barrage, and bombed inflicting casualties.  His great determination and disregard for personal safety not only assisted materially in our success, but was a great example to his comrades.  AFW 3121 7-3-18"


Feb 9, 1920

Memorial Cross sent to Mother at Williamstown Ontario



Mar 29, 1923

British War Medal and Victory Medal sent to father at Williamstown Ontario

Each year on August 20th, the Book of Remembrance in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa is turned to page 382 which shows his name.





During the Remembrance Day ceremonies in 2008, Veteran's Affairs Canada conducted a vigil each night for the week leading up to November 11.  This vigil consisted of projecting the names of every Canadian soldier who is listed with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on various buildings and monuments across Canada, and in London England.  The photo below shows William James Cattanach's  name being projected on the outside wall of Canada House in London England.

Below is from the Communiqué, the Battalion's post war newsletter, dated August 1935, and notes that he was a runner of some fame.  As seen at the bottom of the page, he once competed against the famous Tom Longboat

Above is a Cablegram sent by his sister, Jessie, to their brother in the 4th CMR to see if he could find any of the details surrounding his death

Below is from the flyer produced for the Williamstown Ontario Annual Fair in 2008 and the medal that Bill Cattanach earned that day

Pictured is the cup mentioned in the letter above.  The inscription reads:

A Coy
24 July 1915


It is clear that his comrades did not forget him.   Below is from the program of the 1953  Reunion for the 21st Battalion held at Belleville Ontario and below that is a commemorative plaque from the 50th Reunion held at Kingston Ontario


Below is a portion of a letter written by his friend, Alex Stevenson, to Bill's sister, Alice.  In the letter he mentions Bill and discusses his work ethic.  In addition, he mentions Walter Govan and his death.


The 2 photos above were taken in 1916 while he was the BOS (Battalion Orderly Room Sgt) of the 39th Battalion.  Below he is seated on the right with 3 of his friends in January of 1918.  If you can identify the others, please email the webmaster

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