Morinville Honours WWI

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Paying respects to Leo Thibault after laying the wreath.

by Lucie Roy

On Saturday members of the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 176 Morinville gathered at the Morinville Cemetery to honour the sacrifice of one of our own World War I soldiers.
Conducting the ceremony was Bob Peterson with the laying of the wreath by Don Murphy with assistance from Ann Haberer and Claude Phaneuf.

After the ceremony members of the Honour Guard and those in attendance laid a poppy on the wreath.

Located in the last row in the older section of the cemetery is a distinctive headstone from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

Marked on the headstone is Leo Thibault who died 25 March 1919 at the age of 21.
He joined the Army and was with the Canadian Infantry Central Ontario Regiment Division 51 Bn, formerly the 15th Battalion.

He was the recipient of the Victory Medal and British War Medal.

Thibault was the son of Adelard Thibault of Cardiff and Caroline Thibault.

When he enlisted in Edmonton on 11 November 1915 he was single and employed as a driver for the coal mines.

He stood 5 ft. 7 inches and had a medium complexion with grey eyes and medium brown hair.
While recovering in the 13th Canadian King George’s Hospital Ward H-1 on Stanford Street in London England he wrote a letter to his father, who was a corporal in the Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

The Letter

In his letter, he provides a graphic description of the hard and ferocious attacks on the Hun trenches.

He apologizes to his father for being so long without writing, “As my third wound has been in the right shoulder which forced me to rest my right arm and hand for over two long week.”

He was wounded by shrapnel which struck him over the shoulder inflicting a wound straight down to the middle of his back. He was obliged to stay a week before the first chance to be operated upon.

There was an eleven-inch rubber tube in the flesh following the direction of the wound which had to be taken out and boiled in acids every morning and replaced.

In his letter he speaks of being wounded when the soldiers tried to come out and storm the second trench and as it was well guarded by German snipers and machine guns the newly wounded had to wait until dark to head for the dressing station.”I stayed there for about seven hours and though I could not move for pain and weakness I did not swoon. I watched the awful sight of that trench more than half filled with dead and wounded mixed in together-friends and foes alike. We were piled one over the other unable to move, hearing the moans of the dying or of those that were suffocating under the weight of that human mass and lack of air.”

He was discharged on 17 August 1918 in Calgary Alberta and died the following year. he was diagnosed with Phthisis or also known as Pulmonary Tuberculosis from February 1917 while at Hastings as a result of the wounds of the chest and exposure and Trench warfare.

In his records for his Last Pay Certificate from 1 August 1918 to 17 August 1918 he was paid the Regular Pay of $1 a day for a total of $17 and for a Field Allowance he was paid ten cents a day for a total of $1.70 and with other credits at $8.80 was paid a total of $27.50.

Members of the Morinville Legion who took part in the ceremony

World War I soldier with CWGC headstone in Morinville Cemetery. Both Leo and his father served in the war.

Members of the Honour Guard.

Other members of the Honour Guard.

Legion members Ann Haberer, Don Murphy and Claude Phaneuf at the gravestone of Leo Thibault.

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