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St James Church Taunton

World War 1 Memorial Project

William John Vanstone


Name: William John Vanstone

Rank: Sergeant

Service Number: 161711

Regiment: Canadian Expeditionary Forces

Battalion/Unit number: 7th Battalion

Date/year of Birth: 7th April 1886

Place of Birth: Torquay, Devon

Date of Death: 3rd June 1916

Place of Death: Near Ypres, Belgium

Burial/Memorial: Menin Gate, Ypres 

William lived at 4 Viney Street with his wife Maud and worked as an Insurance Clerk.  His son Claude was born in 1912.  He moved to Canada in April 1913, intending to become a dairy farmer, temporarily leaving his wife and young son back in Taunton.  On the outbreak of war he signed up on 10th August 1914 in Vancouver with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force, stating that he was working as a cook and had previously served for three years in the Royal Engineers.  His unit transferred to England in October 1914, and he was sent to France in 1915.  He was wounded on 18th August 1915, but recovered to rejoin his battalion and quickly gained promotion on the field for devotion to duty.  He went missing on 2nd June 1916 on the opening day of the Battle of Mount Sorrel, where German troops assaulted Canadian positions two miles east of Ypres.  The morning of 2nd June saw a massive German artillery bombardment against the 3rd Canadian Division.  To bolster this position, part of the 1st Canadian Division (to which Sergeant Vanstone belonged) was hastily pushed forward to counterattack.  The counterattack was to take place at 1:00 a.m. on the morning of 3rd June, but due to organisational difficulties was postponed until 7:00 a.m.  The Canadian Battalions suffered heavy losses as they advanced over open ground in broad daylight, and it was in this confusion that William Vanstone went missing, presumed dead.

Memorial to William Vanstone on the Menin Gate


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