April 22 begins quietly for the Canadians on the Ypres front. The action had been in the rear. The Germans had been shelling Ypres for days and one of these shells had killed Guy's friend and brother in law, Trum Warren, on April 20th. Guy had been given permission to attend his funeral on April 21st.
Guy and his company commander Edward Norsworthy were in reserve in the 13th Battalion - the Royal Highlanders of Canada (Black Watch). The other companies were spread out in a series of moon shaped pits that were what the French had used for the front line.
At 5.30pm that evening, hell will break loose. Guy and the others in the Black Watch hear the French line to their left erupt in firing. Then the firing stops and they start to see men staggering back from the French line and some into their lines.
This is how the map looks and this is where you see Guy and the 13th in the top left corner of the Canadian line.
The map makes it clear to us what could happen. If the Germans can turn the corner at the left of the Canadians, they can outflank the entire line and roll them up. That is clear to us. But imagine what it may have been like at 6pm that April evening. You can smell the gas, many commented that they could. You knew that it was chlorine because the water in your water bottles was full of chlorine. But you had never experienced chlorine being used as a gas.
The entire French division of 20,000 men on your right had evaporated including 10 batteries of 75mm field guns that had been in support of you. Gasping dying men were streaming through your own positions.
This was exactly the job for the reserve company to fill the new gap and Norsworthy and Guy take their men into the apex at the top left hand corner.
The war diary is silent. In fact there are no entries for the 13th at all for days. There is simply too much chaos and everything became a matter of survival. All we have are the memories of a few survivors. Note the road just t the upper left, West, of the 13th. This is the Ypres - Poelcapelle Road. Note the small bulge into the Canadian line there. This is where Norsworthy and Drummond took their men.
Norm Christie quotes a private "After having remained in the dug outs for about an hour with our throats parched and our eyes watering, caused by the gas, we could see that the Germans had broken our lines...He (Major Norsworthy) gave the order to stand-to which we were waiting anxiously to do and he lead us out to the Ypres-Poelcapelle Road. I was not long before they began to pick our boys off. Major Norsworthy was hit in the neck by a bullet but it did not stop him from walking up and down our line encouraging our men to hold fast. It was not until he had received a second bullet that he had to give in and lie down. We bound him up as well as we could but the wound was serious and he died 45 minutes later."
Here is how Col Currie of the Red Watch, the 15th Battalion, the CO of Trum Warren recoded Guy's death.
“One of the first officers of my acquaintance to fall on the evening of the 22nd was Lieutenant Drummond of the 13th Battalion. I had spoken to him in the morning. When the Turcos had come streaming across the field, tearing through his company of Montreal Highlanders, he, together with Major Norsworthy, gallantly tried to rally these men, along with my adjutant. Drummond fell, together with his comrade, each a victim to a German bullet. No braver lad, no more ardent Highlander ever donned the tartan of the Black Watch than Lieutenant Guy Drummond. When he fell Canada lost a valuable and useful citizen. His training, education and charm of manner, coupled with his intense patriotism, marked him for a great career. Major Norsworthy, his friend and comrade, fell by his side.”
Excerpt From: John Allister Currie. “The Red Watch" / With the First Canadian Division in Flanders.” iBooks.
Here is how the history of the battalion recall these events.
“Having broken through the French lines on a wide front, as already described, the Germans had swung in towards the Canadians' flank and were making some progress in the general direction of St. Julien. This brought the enemy into contact with Major Norsworthy and the two platoons of No. 3 Coy. in support, or rather the remnant of these platoons, which had suffered severely in the opening bombardment.
Inspired by the gallant leadership of Major Norsworthy and Capt. Guy Drummond, the men of the supporting platoons fought a dauntless fight. Every moment was precious and no one can estimate the value of the time that was gained by the delay this devoted effort caused to the Germans. But even sublime courage can not withstand fire and steel. Overwhelmed at last, Norsworthy and Drummond fell and such of their men as had not been killed were, with a few exceptions, surrounded and captured. Amongst the exceptions were Private Telfer and five other men. who made their way through to the front and reported to McCuaig the disaster that had befallen his supports.”
Excerpt From: Fetherstonhaugh, R. C. (Robert Collier), 1892-1949. “The 13th Battalion Royal Highlanders of Canada, 1914-1919.” iBooks.
So begins 4 days and nights of chaos and constant fighting.
Drummond and Norsworthy's bodies were of course lost in the chaos of the battle and in the churn of the Salient. But in 1920, during the clearances of St Julien, the labour company found a cross marked "Unknown Canadian Officer - Royal Highlanders of Canada." During the exhumation, they found the remains of two officers and four soldiers. One of the officers had a long femur and was judged to be about 6' 3" or 4". This was Guy. The other officer being then Edward Norsworthy. They are now buried in Tyne Cot in plot 59, Row B in Graves 24 and 28. They lie together for eternity. (Thanks to Norm Christie The Canadians at Ypres)
Guy's death is only one drop in an ocean of millions who were to die. But each single death is a heartbreak for those who were close.
In London await his mother, Julia, Lady Drummond and his wife Mary Hendrie Braithwaite Drummond.
Here is Guy with his mother as a boy. In those days little boys had long hair and even wore dresses for a while. She had already lost Guy's older brother as an infant. She was also widowed twice.
Here she is at the end of the war. A woman of great privilege who had lost nearly everything that mattered to her. In reaction to her loss, she did not withdraw but instead poured her energy into helping all the other boys of all the other mothers. She becomes one of the great figures of the war.
I suspect that she was sustained by the fact that Guy's son was being carried by her daughter in law, Mary Braithwaite. He will be born in late summer of 1915.
But this must have been a terrible time for Mary. Her sister Marjory had just learned of her husband's (Trum Warren) death the day before. She too was pregnant. Both were in London and probably were living with Julia at Browns Hotel.
Stunned by her sister's loss, their other sister Dorothy must have contacted my Aunt Marguerite Lady Allan. Could she join their party on the Lusitania so that she could go to London and comfort her sisters? She was part of the Allan table and party. They all would have celebrated her birthday on board.
"Dorothy’s ticket for Lusitania was 12934, and her cabin was D-63. She celebrated her 25th birthday on board the Lusitania, on Wednesday, 5 May.
At the time of the torpedo’s impact, Dorothy Braithwaite was in the lounge with Frederick Orr-Lewis, Marguerite, Lady Allan, her daughters Gwen and Anna, and Robert Holt. They gathered on the portside where Sir Lewis’ valet, George Slingsby, and Lady Allan’s maids Emily Davis and Annie Walker joined them. Dorothy separated from them in the crowd and was last seen near lifeboat 14.
Afterwards Harold Boulton found her in the water and she died holding his hand.
The New York Times had erroneously printed her name on the survivors list, saying that she was from Morristown, New Jersey. (Source)"
I find all of this just heartbreaking as loss piles on loss and we are only in the spring of 1915.
Next we watch over my grandfather Alec and the men of there 5th Battery of the 2nd Brigade CFA. They will go into action in the evening of the 22nd of April and not stop, day and night, for a week. But he will live and fight in every action to follow until September 1918, when he is gassed.
I will follow that with a view of Hamilton Gault and the great stand of the PPCLI at the other hinge of the Salient where Uncle Hammy finds himself cut off in a shell hole wounded so badly that he will have to have his leg amputated tossing his empty revolver back and forth to his men in the trench behind him as they reload for him.
And then we board the Lusitania and spend the week with the girls and many other cousins and friends of the family.
Thank goodness we cannot know the future.