Vimy Ridge

Jul 29th, 2008, 05:57 AM
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Vimy Ridge

One of my Dad's cousins, Fred McAvay, b. 1888, was killed at Vimy.

From today's Globe:

"Swingers who defiled Vimy ordered to cough up cash

July 29, 2008 at 2:27 AM EDT

Attracted by a shared taste for computers, exhibitionism and the swingers lifestyle, Alain Robillard and Jackie Boldoduc became a couple after meeting through an online dating service.

However, the French couple said it was because they had children but no jobs and no cash that they turned to the Internet to sell pictures and videos of their sexual hijinks at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in northern France.

For their trouble, the two were heavily fined and had also to pay a symbolic euro in damages to Canada for despoiling its iconic First World War monument after a French court found them guilty of sexual exhibitionism last week.

"We didn't think about the commemorative aspect of the monument, about what it represented to veterans and all that," Ms. Boldoduc told the court.

It was the second time a French couple had been found guilty of performing public sex acts at the Vimy memorial on the site where 3,598 Canadian soldiers died while capturing German-held positions in 1917.

Located in an isolated zone next to a wooded area, the twin-pillared monument has become in recent years a magnet for louche sexual performances, getting touted on French websites as a spot for swingers and exhibitionists.

Janice Summerby, a spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs Canada, said the Canadian government asked that the couple be ordered to pay a symbolic euro.

"There's no way we could put a price on the type of disrespect this represents," she said.

There was also a practical legal reason for the move.

By seeking a token sum for damages, the Canadian government was allowed in court for the trial as an interested party and could have a lawyer make representations.

"We cannot for a moment tolerate that such a place be defiled, that the memory of soldiers be tainted," the court was told by Pascal Olivier, a Paris lawyer retained by the Canadian government.

The court proceeding in Arras heard that Canadian Internet users tipped police about the couple selling sex images snapped at Vimy.

About 200 photos and videos were seized on the couple's computers. The court also heard that they met online and took the images at Vimy between February, 2007, and April of this year.

In addition to the symbolic euro payment, the couple was given a suspended four-month jail term and ordered to pay Canada's court costs of €1,000 and a €500 fine each. They were also ordered to buy an ad in a local paper to publicize their conviction.

And since they didn't report the €3,000 they earned from the sale of their photos, they were ordered to pay €1,000 in back taxes.

Mr. Robillard could not be contacted for comment. Ms. Boldoduc didn't reply to an interview request sent to her profile on a French school-reunion website, where, alongside a photo of herself in a miniskirt and knee-high stiletto leather boots, the 36-year-old described herself as a mother and homemaker.

The pair, residents of Béthune, near Arras, seemed rueful, said a court witness.

"They didn't say much. They seemed ashamed of appearing in public," said Romain Musart, a local reporter for La Voix du Nord, who attended the sentencing.

He said the couple claimed that they weren't aware of Vimy's historical significance. But they were contradicted in court by their police interrogation, where they told investigators they liked the spot because it had been overhauled and because the Queen paid a visit two years ago to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy.

"They couldn't have not known," Mr. Musart said.

In January, another French couple were convicted of sexual exhibitionism at Vimy and handed a one-month conditional sentence, and ordered to pay €500 in court costs for Canada and a €150 fine.
SallyCanuck is offline  
Jul 29th, 2008, 01:16 PM
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OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!!!!!!!!:-&:-&:-&:-&:-&
Sam_Salmon is offline  
Jul 29th, 2008, 01:54 PM
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Splendid idea!
SallyCanuck is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 10:31 AM
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Unfortunately, I fear that lopping off their heads would have little impact on their intelligence.

SallyCanuck, I see that Fred McAvay was a letter carrier from Fort William. Which battalion was he with?

JQReports is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 12:00 PM
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Here's what I have on my family tree about Fred...if you know anything about his battalion or Colonel Machin, I'd love to know as I couldn't anything. Was rather surprised that it took a month to inform his family of his death.

5th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan Regiment), private #199144.

Have his war records from Nat Archives.

A letter carrier before enlisting.

The Daily Times Journal, Port Arthur, Ontario May 5, 1917
From the front page:

Fred McAvay - Mr. and Mrs. John McAvay, of 204 south Marks street, received word this morning from the
record office at Ottawa announcing that their son 199144 Fred McAvay was killed in action on April 9th. He was 29 years of age last September 7th and left here last June with Colonel Machin's battalion. Previous to
enlisting he was one of the mail carriers connected with local post office staff. He was one of the first carriers appointed in Fort William at the time the delivery system was inaugurated Sept. 19, 1908. His record in this
service has been exemplary as there never was a serious complaint against his work on the beat in that part of the city between the Kam Power company plant and elevator D and from there west a short distance on the streets in that vicinity. There is another brother Ray, aged 19 years in the signal corps in training in England.
Besides his brother in England, Fred McAvay is survived by his father John, who has been a resident of Fort William for 33 years and has been a pioneer grain trimmer, his mother Mrs. McAvay, one other brother and 4 sisters.

Burial: Nine Elms Military Cemetery, Thelus Pas de Calais, France
SallyCanuck is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 01:03 PM
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Hello again,

"The Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919" by Colonel G.W.L. Nicholson is an excellent resource. Your local library should have a copy. The maps are very good--I see the 5th Battalion jumped off on the extreme right flank of the Canadian forces. Nicholson's only comments are that they faced severe resistance in the form of sniper and machine gun fire.

You may have noticed the large stamp of "94th Overseas Battalion" on Fred McAvay's Attestation Paper. Here's a link to more info on the 94th (including the information on his death).

There is also some mention of Colonel Machin (Boer War Veteran), and though it appears that Machin went overseas with the 94th he did not end up with the 5th.

JQReports is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 01:08 PM
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SallyCanuck, I'll be driving past that cemetery in November. I could stop and take a photo of the grave if you wish.

AnselmAdorne is online now  
Jul 31st, 2008, 06:03 AM
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JQ and Anselm - thank you both - I'll have a look at those links, JQ. I went through a lot of books at the central library trying to find more info so this is great.

Anselm, I would love a photo of Fred's grave and I'll see you on the 9th with the Normandy book.

I've been to Vimy and at the time didn't know about Fred but did find another McAvay's name - Michael, I think it was who was from Montreal - on the memorial but not Fred's. I really think he was left off.
SallyCanuck is offline  
Jul 31st, 2008, 09:55 AM
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Sally: His name would not be on the memorial because he is buried in a known grave (ie Nine Elms). Those whose names are on the Vimy Memorial are those who died in France with no known grave. The Canadians who died in Belgium with no known grave have their names engraved on the Menin Gate in Ypres with those of the other forces of the British Empire.
laverendrye is offline  
Jul 31st, 2008, 11:23 AM
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Laverendrye - of course, that's it. Thank you. Darn, I was at Menin Gate and could have found him there.

Reading the site for his battaliion these bits following are interesting, funny, touching - saying goodbye to your loved one must have been so difficult - my own Grandmother, who was Fred's first cousin, had 3 sons out of 4 serving overseas in the RCAF in WWII - and she wasn't unique - how hard it must have been for my Grandparents and two of the "boys" were married including my Dad. I wish someone was around now to ask about these things.

Here's excerpts from the site JQ found for me:

“The battalion is still in the market for a live moose”...What's that all about??

“Two young lads volunteered yesterday to serve in the 94th as a drummer and a bugler, both boys were 13 years old. A recruiting trip to Lac Seul did not result in any volunteers because the man’s minds had been poisoned by someone who said that they would be starved, beaten and placed in the front of the firing line so they would be killed first. Lt Col. Machin is justly indignant with this report.” Did they really let 13 and 14 years old go overseas?

“Capt. Thompson has not been favourably impressed with the men’s efforts in singing. Now, each day after parade, they break into the national Anthem followed by patriotic son[g]s. If they keep improving, they will be recognized as the select choir of the 94th.”

“The 94th’s hockey team has a good chance of taking the Senior Leagues championship.” So hockey was pretty important even during war time.

"The Women's Christian Temperance Union entertained the Officers and men, their mothers and wives at Zion Methodist Church last Friday." I guess there was no beer at this event….knowing my McAvays, they couldn’t have been too happy about that.

The Kenora detachment of the 94th Battalion left Thursday morning in command of major Schnarr in a special train. The boys in Khaki assembled at the Armouries and headed by the combined bands of Kenora and Keewatin paraded to the station followed by an immense throng of citizens. The men presented a splendid appearance ant it was the general expression that they compared very well with any of the other contingents that have left here for overseas service. The men entrained as soon as they arrived at the station. As the 94th is expected to leave for Valcartier in the course of a couple of weeks, and none of the men will likely have the opportunity of visiting their home here again before going overseas, there were many affecting scenes of farewell. It was marvellous, however, to see the manner in which the mothers, wives, sisters and sweethearts bore up when saying goodbye. They did all they could to cheer the men rather than depress them reserving for themselves the culmination of departure until after the train had left. In fact many of the wives and relatives of the men refused to go to the train, the parting scenes being held in the sanctity of their own homes. How nobly the women of Kenora and Keewatin are meeting the sacrifice has been amply evidenced on the occasion of the departure and anyone who was at the station on Thursday could never for one moment question the duty owing to the dependents of these gallant fellows." I'd have been weeping buckets.
SallyCanuck is offline  
Jul 31st, 2008, 11:28 AM
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In Belgium, WWI soldiers without graves may have their names on the Menin Gate OR on the memorial wall at Tyne Cot Cemetery. One of the reasons the gate was built was because there wasn't enough room on the cemetery memorial wall for all the soldiers' names.
ShelliDawn is offline  
Jul 31st, 2008, 01:49 PM
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ShelliDawn. You're quite right that there was not enough room on the Menin Gate for all the names. However, it was only British soldiers whose names were put on the Tyne Cot Memorial (those killed after August 15, 1917.) All Canadians (nearly 7,000) appear on the Menin Gate.

Sally: You wouldn't have found your dad's cousin at the Menin Gate either, because he did have a known grave. There is a project known as the Maple Leaf Legacy Project to photograph every Canadian war grave of the 20th (and 21st, sadly) century and make it available on the web. You might want to check it for Fred McAvay.

laverendrye is offline  
Aug 1st, 2008, 05:40 AM
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laverendrye - thanks so much for the link to the Maple Leaf Legacy site - Fred has a page but no photo but Anselm says he'll take one when he's over there later this year so then it can be submitted.

A friend's brother-in-law was killed not long after D-Day - we visited his grave in 2003 - she has photos of his grave so I'll let her know about it, too.

SallyCanuck is offline  
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