Remembering Arthur and Bill West, RMR brothers killed at Vimy Ridge

Frank Mahieu visiting the shared grave marker of Arthur and Bill West, two RMR brothers killed at Vimy Ridge on 09 April 1917. Photo credit: Frank Mahieu.

Westmount, Quebec – 09 April 2023: The RMR Foundation was originally contacted by Franky Mahieu of Belgium for permission to use a photo of a group of RMR officers taken at Cassel in April 1915 that had been published on 12 April 2015 as part of the the RMR Foundation’s “This Day in RMR History” centennial project. Mr. Mahieu was using the photo on his Facebook page that is entirely dedicated to remembering the fallen, and in particular he has a section devoted to brothers who were killed in the Great War.

He contacted us again this Spring to show his new virtual remembrance of the West brothers who were killed in the attack on Vimy Ridge on 09 April 1917, and are buried together in the Nine Elms cemetery, sharing the same grave marker. The story of Nine Elms cemetery, which is unique among all CWGC cemeteries, is fascinating in its own right and can be read here.

This is a particularly sad story among all of the sadness that war brings: imagine the heartache of their parents learning that both of their sons perished at the same time. Unfortunately the sadness didn’t stop there, as their third son, Louis was gassed on 06 September 1917 and died from the exposure the next day. Their story, taken from Mr. Mahieu’s Facebook page:

We remember ARTHUR WEST , aged 28, and WILLIAM JAMES WEST (Bill Jim), aged 26, both killed in action 9 April 1917 during the attack on Vimy Ridge while serving with the 14th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Royal Montreal Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force. Their younger brother LOUIS (LEWIS) also died in the war and served with the same battalion.
They were the sons of Abraham and Emiline West of Norfolk, Ontario.
Arthur was born on September 15, 1888, at Dereham, Oxford County, Ontario. He was single, his occupation was farmer and he lived at Fairground when he enlisted on February 26, 1916 at Port Rowan, Ontario. Description: dark complexion, brown eyes, black hair and 1m79 tall. Before enlistment he was with the 39th Rgt. Active Militia (as were the 3 brothers).William James (aka Bill Jim) was born on March 22nd 1897 in Houghton Township(*), Ontario, Canada.
He enlisted as “Bill Jim West” on 17 Febr. 1916 in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada a week before his brother Arthur enlisted. At the time he lived at Kinglake with his parents. Prior to enlistment he also was a farmer and was in the active militia 39th Rgt. as was his brother Arthur. Description: fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, 1m73 tall.Both Arthur and William embarked on SS Lapland with 133rd Bn. on 30 October 1916 arriving at the UK 11 Nov. 1916. A day or so later taken on strength from 133 Bn. to 23rd Bn. and drafted to 14th Bn. 30 Nov. 1916, in the field 13 Dec. 1916.
At the time the Canadians had left the Somme already and moved to the region of Arras where preparations were being made for the coming 2nd. Battle of Arras where the 4 Canadian Divisions together on April 9th took Vimy Ridge. In this battle the 14th Bn. sector was in the area of Farbus, Farbus Wood and Thélus (see map). Arthur (28) and William, aka Bill (26) both fell in this battle and are buried in one and the same grave at Nine Elms Cemetery, Thelus (**). The headstone bears the inscription: IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR BELOVED SONS WHO DIED FOR KING AND COUNTRY.
The cemetery was begun after the Battle of Vimy Ridge to bury the fallen of the 14th Bn. Canadian Infantry.
At Thélus, in the fields, is the memorial to the 1st. Canadian Division, to which the 14th Batallion of Arthur and Bill belonged. LEST WE FORGET.
Their younger brother LOUIS EDGAR WEST, aged 21, was seriously gassed by gas shell on 6 Sept. 1917, and brought to 23rd. Casualty Clearing Station (at Lozinghem, neighbouring village of Lapugnoy) where he died of gas poisoning the next day, 7 September 1917. He is buried in Lapugnoy Military Cemetery. He is named “Lewis” Edgar West on his headstone.
Louis Edgar West was born September 12, 1895 at Houghton Township, Ontario, Canada. He also was a farmer as his brothers and was with the 39th Rgt. Active Militia before enlisting. He enlisted on February 12, 1916 , at Simcoe, Ontario with the was the youngest but the first one of the 3 brothers to enlist. Description: dark complexion, grey eyes, black hair, 1m78 tall.

His military journey is the same as his brothers, ending up with 14th Btn. on Nov. 30th 1916, only surviving just a few months longer, then so sadly and painfully joining them in death. LEST WE FORGET. WE WILL REMEMBER.

(*) Norfolk County, Houghton Township (township seat: Fairground ) South of Simcoe, near Lake Erie, Ontario.

(**) not that easy to find; from ARRAS take the Route de Lens (D264), which further on becomes Route Nationale, towards Ecurie; there at Ecurie, at the junction to the N17 do NOT turn right to the N17, BUT take the small rougher road (in fact straight ahead) that runs alongside the N17 leading to the cemetery, you’ll first pass by Arras Road Cemetery). Coming from direction of Lens take the the N17, and exit at Ecurie, once you turn right there, immediately turn right again to the track there which leads to the cemetery

Thank you to Mr. Mahieu for his virtual remembrance.

Lest We Forget.

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