|Postcard sent home by Sifton showing soldiers in their Recreation room, which he captioned "Our Recreation rooms look alright don't they," Elgin County Archives|
"Unlike many of the others in the 18th Battalion, Ellis Sifton had not received much mail during that first week of April. In fact, when he wrote to his sisters a few days before the attack, he noted that 'there have not been any letters from you people for about ten days.' L/Cpl. Sifton had written to members of his family several times a week from the moment he enlisted in October 1914 and left the family farm near Wallacetown, Ontario, right up to his arrival at Vimy. In training at Wolseley Barracks in London, Ontario, he proudly announced to his sisters, Ella and Millie, that he'd scored twenty-six of thirty-five in target practice, 'third place in our company' and that army life 'seems more a dream than anything else.' He dashed off fourteen letters and six postcards during the battalion's transatlantic crossing, posting them when he arrived at Sandling Camp. 'If the people of Canada realized how serious it is over here,' he wrote, 'they would wake up and do about three times what they are doing.' And he applauded his British hosts because they 'all have a smile for the boys from the maple leaf.'
|Photograph from the Sifton family album with handwritten caption on back, "Flash Lawrence Ellis took it," Elgin County Archives|
|A group of people with Ellis Sifton identified in the front row,Elgin County Archives|
|Ellis Sifton's New Testament, with a photo of St. Peter's Anglican Church, Tyrconnell, Elgin County Archives|
Sifton went over the top with his Western Ontario Battalion in the 2nd Division sector not long after the opening barrage. His commanders had received a call for relief from their sister regiment- the 21st (Eastern Ontario) Battalion at the Black Line. It had taken 106 prisoners, but had also sustained 215 casualties in reaching the next German line of defence. Buoyed by his field promotion to sergeant just days before, Sifton advanced quickly to help reinforce the 4th Brigade's push to Les Tilleuls. But even the fresh troops of the 18th began taking casualties from the German strongpoints. Just 100 yards from the objective, a leading officer in 'A' Company, Lt. W. J. McLean, was killed. Soon after, Lt. P. Jordan had to take over 'B' Company when it lost a commanding officer. Meanwhile, a hidden machine gun had pinned down the men in 'C' Company, including Sgt. Sifton.
|Letter from King George V accompanying 1914 - 1915 Star, Elgin County Archives|
|Photograph from the Sifton Family Photo Album. Photo of family members visiting Memorial at Vimy Ridge bearing the name of Ellis W. Sifton, Elgin County Archives|
Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)