Cave etchings reveal Sarnia-Lambton soldiers left their mark at Vimy – The London Free Press
Cave-wall etchings from two Sarnia-Lambton soldiers at Vimy Ridge have been discovered near the site of the First World War battle.
Petrolia’s John Edward Chenney and Warwick’s Hugh Roswell Hall left their marks in a previously unexplored section of the caves that sheltered soldiers in the months leading up to the battle of April 1917.
Hall’s is dated Dec. 4, 1916.
“Presumably he was working on foot, fighting in the trenches,” said Julian Matheson, assistant curator at the First Hussars Museum in London.
A French historian exploring the Targette Tunnels section of the caves not open to the public, he said, was doing an archaeological dig when the etchings were found among hundreds of others.
Until now, no carvings were known from First Hussars soldiers, said Al Neely, museum curator.
Both of the soldiers signed up in Sarnia in their early 20s for the Great War.
They both survived it, Matheson said, noting digitized service records for both are available at Library and Archives Canada.
The Sarnia and London-area regiment visited other parts of the tunnels last year during a 100th anniversary commemoration of the battle, but never saw the names, said Lt.-Col Allan Finney, commanding officer of the regiment.
Relatively little is known about the two soldiers, he said, and the regiment is looking for more information about their lives.
“This brings that connection to life and helps us remember them as more than a name on a wall or a plaque,” Finney said in an email. “I am hoping that we may be able to find living relatives of these two soldiers so that we can get faces to the names.”
People have been interested in social media postings about the carvings, Matheson said, but no one has come forward yet with more information about the men.
“I think the most important thing is that these tunnels aren’t open to the public yet, and there could be more discoveries as they continue to dig down there,” he said.
Meanwhile, Finney said, he’s preparing to lead a cavalry troop to France in the coming weeks to take part in a Ride of Remembrance for the 100th anniversary of the Pursuit to Mons — the final 32 days of the war during which the Canadian Corps pressed toward Germany.
Plans are to visit the graves of the Canadian light horse soldiers killed in the final offensive, he said.