Young Canadian Soldier of WWI Receives New Gravestone

From BBCnews, September 22, 2012:

Cpl Alfred Gyde Heaven was injured at Vimy Ridge in France in April 1917 – a year after enlisting in the army at the age of 16, after lying about his age.

He was sent to hospital in Crosshouses, Shropshire, but died days later.

Local historians realised he had no gravestone and spent 10 years researching and campaigning for one.

Cpl Heaven, who was born in Ontario, Canada, came to England for military training in Liverpool and went on to fight for the 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade.

In November 1916 he was awarded the Military Medal for his part in the Battle of the Somme.

However, less than six months later he suffered serious injuries to his face and jaw and was taken to Crosshouses for treatment.

‘Least we can do’

After his death he was buried in Shrewsbury Cemetery, but having died before the War Graves Commission was set up, he did not automatically qualify to get a marked grave.

The new gravestoneThe new gravestone was unveiled as part of Saturday’s memorial service

Researchers Phil Morris and Clive Bakeway, members of the Shrewsbury Military Research Group, spent a decade building up evidence to prove it was Cpl Heaven who was buried in the grave.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission then accepted the evidence and agreed to provide a headstone for the soldier.

Historian Ken Bishop, who was also involved in the campaign, said it had been important for Shropshire residents to honour the “war hero” who was buried locally.

He said: “When we consider he was only a child and he went through all that and showed so much leadership, it’s quite incredible.

“We need to make sure people like him are never forgotten. They paid the ultimate sacrifice, it’s the least we can do.”

The memorial service, attended by representatives from the Canadian military and the High Sheriff of Shropshire, took place at 11:00 BST at Shrewsbury Cemetery.

 
 
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