Edwin Alfred Clift

Date of birth:                     29th May 1885
Place of birth:                   Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Service No.:                       65184
Rank:                                    Private
Regiment / Division:     Canadian Infantry
Battalion:                            24th Battalion
Died:                                     30th September 1915 aged 30 years
Death Location:               Wytschaete, Belgium

Before the War
Edwin was born 29th May 1885 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to Walter (29th Nov 1857 – 8th Oct 1921) and Margaret Ann Clift (nee Gardner 1861 –  ).  His parents were born in England and were married in Southampton in 1884.  Walter and Margaret emigrated to Canada in 1884.

Edwin had a younger sister Margaret who was born 1888 and a younger brother Charles born 1891, both in Montreal. Walter and Edwin’s brother Charles were passengers on the Cunard ship Ardania which arrived in England on 16th September 1913.

At the time of Edwin’s enlistment on 26th October 1914 his father Walter was listed as next of kin and was living at 48 Amphill Road, Shirley, Southampton.

On the memorial sites for Edwin it states “ Nephew of Mr B A Clift of Abbey Mead, 31 Westwood Rd, Southampton”.   I think that this should read Miss B A Clift as Edwin did not have an uncle, his father only had a sister, Blanche Alice, who never married.  She died 30th  May 1928 and was living at 31 Westwood Road (England and Wales National Probate Calendar).

On 1901 Census there are 2 records for a Margaret Ann Clift.  One as a patient in a hospital in Verdun Village, Quebec and a second at St Jean-Baptiste Ward in Montreal.

In 1911 Edwin was listed on the Canadian census as a lodger with the Franklyn family and he was working as a carpet maker.

Military History
Edwin enlisted in the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force on 26 October 1914 and was posted to the 24th Battalion.  The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) was formed in Canada from August 1914 onwards.  By the end of the war, more than 250 battalions had been formed.  Although most battalions made it as far as England, only a few served in France and Flanders.  The others were usually disbanded at a Training Depot in England, and the men sent as reinforcements to the CEF in France.

The 24th Battalion (Victoria Rifles), CEF, was authorised on 7th November 1914 and embarked for Great Britain on 11th May 1915.  It arrived in France on 16th September 1915 and fought as part of the 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division in France and Flanders until the end of the war.

The Canadian 1st Division was involved in the Second Battle of Ypres and was joined in September 1915 by the 2nd Division.  The second attack on Bellewaarde commenced on 25th September 1915

Edwin was killed in action at Wytschaete, Belgium on 30th September 1915, 14 days after arriving in France.       

He was awarded the 1914-1915 Star medal, the Victory medal and the British War medal.

Edwin is buried at La Laiterie Military Cemetery, Belgium.  The cemetery is located south of leper town centre.

There is a memorial in honour of the Canadian Troops, who fought on the Western Front, in Currie Hall, Royal Military College of Canada.

Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander McCrae, M D of Ontario, wrote a poem called “In Flanders Fields” during the Second Battle of Ypres.   It is still recited today, especially on Remembrance Day.

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