Canadian war hero remembered

By Farnham Herald in Community News

A CANADIAN WWI hero, who trained at Witley Camp, will be honoured by a group of his countrymen and the local community next week.

Private John Arsenault was killed at Vimy Ridge, on April 9, 1917, and a series of events in his memory will take place in the lead-up to the commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the battle at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France, which will be attended by the Prince of Wales.

On that fateful day, almost 3,600 Canadian soldiers were killed in action and more than 7,000 who took part were wounded during the battle.

Private John Arsenault served with the 85th (Nova Scotia Highlanders) Canadian Infantry and trained at Witley Camp during 1916 and early 1917, before being killed at Vimy Ridge a few months later.

Commemorations organiser The Odysee de la Culture, has arranged for a group to include his great grand-niece and another relative to visit Witley and Milford for two acts of commemoration and a circular walk starting and ending at All Saints Church in Witley, on Monday, March 27. Everyone is welcome to attend.

The first act of remembrance will also be at All Saints, starting at 9.30am. Private Arsenault’s battalion and three other Canadian battle groups, left their colours for safekeeping at the church, when they embarked for France in 1917.

The eight-mile walk starts from All Saints, at 10am, and the first stop will be he National Trust Witley Centre at 1.30pm, where the camp was based. After lunch, the walk continues to Milford Cemetery where there will be another act of remembrance at around 3pm arranged by St John’s Church, and attended by senior students from Rodborough School. The walkers will return to All Saints at around 5pm.

Chairman Patrick Stewart said: “Witley Parish Council is very happy and proud to be involved with this worthwhile project. I am particularly pleased to see the individuals taking part in the walk are receiving support from so many people and organisations within our community -schools, churches, businesses and others. it will be a great success for all and reflects well on the parish.”

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