For the fallen
On 11 November 1916, there were 397 deaths recorded for the British and Commonwealth forces. Amongst the fallen were:
Private Raymond Thomas Mackie, aged 26, of the Wellington Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Force. A medical dressing station was sited close to the cemetery of Rue Petillon, in Fleurbaix, where Raymond Mackie was buried. Many of the men in the cemetery died of their wounds there.
Private Samuel Reed, aged 30, Canadian Infantry, commemorated on the Vimy Memorial. Many Canadian troops fell that day, particularly in the fighting around the Regina Trench, part of the Battle of Thiepval Ridge.
Sepoy Gajjan Singh, of the Jind Infantry, killed during the East African Campaign and buried in Nairobi, Kenya.
Pack Leader John Tlapi, Military Labour Bureau, South African Forces. No known grave, he died during the East African Campaign.
Driver Hermanus Christoffel Smal, aged 23, of the South African Service Corps, buried in Dar Es Salaam war cemetery, Tanzania.
At the start of WWI, German East Africa was part of the German empire and the region became the focus of an intense campaign between the German and British (Commonwealth) forces.
Private George Fryer, aged 18, of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Sister Letitia Gladys Moreton, aged 26, Australian Army Nursing Service. Letitia caught a fever and died while serving in India and is commemorated on the Delhi Memorial.
Over 1,000 nurses died as a result of the war, some caught in the cross-fire, while others fell ill as a result of working in the hospitals.
Back home in Richmond in 1916, there was not yet any significance attached to the date 11 November, and the end of the war did not seem to be in sight. The Richmond Herald published an extract of a letter sent to Mrs Mackay of St John’s Grove, Richmond.
It was from her brother, Driver H Gay, who wrote: “I am sure the war won’t finish this year, but so long as I get a leave this winter I won’t mind so much…What a time we will have when we come marching back victorious.”