Many men from Sutton fought in the two World wars of the twentieth century. The Park on Maple St is dedicated to these brave men, and the clock on the Town Hall was also purchased in their memory.
The funds needed to buy the clock were collected by The Sutton Junior Girls’ Institute, the forerunner of the Sutton Women’s Institute. The clock was finally installed in the fall of 1949, along with a plaque naming the men who died while fighting during those two World Wars.
This plaque commemorates veterans of both World Wars. One of the names is George M. Westover, whom we have been unable to trace as a victim of WW1. It does not mention Leland Stanford Westover, 18 years old, whose name is written on the Vimy Memorial and whose gravestone stands in Grace Church cemetery. Another name on the plaque is Valentine Patman who died in 1920, most likely from wounds he received during the war. We know about him from his employer, the CIBC.
The First World War
One hundred years ago we were in the middle of this war in which 150 Sutton men fought and 25 lost their lives.
The Canadian Legion of Sutton, section 158, and Héritage Sutton, are together paying tribute to them. On Remembrance Day, November 11th of each year, the Legion pays tribute to those who died exactly one hundred years ago. In 2015 it was Gordon Cook, Joseph Hall, and George Whitford. In 2016 our current Sutton residents will honour John Dalton, Norman Macdonald and George Westover.
For its part, Héritage Sutton is publishing on its website a dossier called Histoires de guerres/ Stories of the Wars. Jocelyn Vachon’s essay is called A Hundred Years Ago, The Great War began. It describes the state of services for young people in Sutton and Abercorn who had served in the war.
Read the article oh Jocelyn Vachon: A Hundred Years Ago, The Great War began.
There is also a list of the 125 men who fought in the war. Attached are exerpts from correspondance exchanged between those fighting overseas and those who awaited them here, excerpts first published in History Sketchbook #25.
Jocelyn Vachon has also written monographs on Captain Royce Coleman Dyer who died in Russia (Sutton History Sketchbooks no.5); and on Brigadier-general Dennis C. Draper (sketchbooks no.9 and no.10.)
World War I lasted 4 years (1914-1918.) The peace which followed lasted a mere 20 years.
World War II
War broke out again in 1939. Again men from Sutton left to join the armed forces, and their stories should be told. It is now hard to find someone who actively took part, but we have been able to gather the testimonies of two of them.
Some of them, of course, were never able to tell us what happened: 20 men and one woman from Sutton died in World War II. Research needs to be made in military archives for more information. Some families like the Bowdens, Crowells, Dyers and MacDonalds were particularly hard hit, losing two or three family members in the two war period.
The text Living the War in Sutton describes the impact of the second world war as described by residents of Sutton.
The last resting place
The remains of the Sutton men who died fighting in World War I stayed overseas. The government of Canada did not repatriate the remains of its soldiers. Their names can be read on the memorials in Europe (See the Roll of Honour, WWI) The majority also have a gravestone in various cemeteries in Sutton, as do seven of the victims of WWII.
This type of burial is still active because the last burial took place in 2009. Two other names are already engraved on stones as a choice for future burial. Of the 39 tombstones here, 14 carry the names of the married couple, making a total of 53 persons. Four of the 14 women were also in the armed forces. Several lists of names are current concerning the burials in the Legion Cemetery, and it will be difficult to make one definitive list. The following table gives the names of those whose gravestones we have found.
See the list further on.
The veterans did not always choose the Legion Cemetery. Many were interred in private lots in other cemeterieis. This is especially the case of G.A. McCarthy, Gilbert H. Delmar, William Murns, Frederick Newman, Gerald Henry Page, Albert C. Perkins, Ralph C. Sheridan and James Thompson.
Gaétan Mireault, who fought in Italy, was buried in St. André’s cemetery in 1977. He is surely not the only veteran to be buried in this cemetery, but the parish registers do not provide the information needed to identify them. He is also the subject of an article by Jocelyn Vachon in sketchbooks no. 17, titled 600 heures sous la mitraille.
Soldiers of the 19th Century
Sutton’s military history does not begin with the wars of the 20th century however. In the C19 able men carried arms and formed militias. In a canton such as Sutton, the main purpose of a militia was to defend the frontier with the USA. Later, when Canada had a national regular army, it played its part in the wars of the British Empire: the Boer war, WWI and II, and Korea.
During the War of 1812, the Sutton militia joined forces with those of Potton, Brome, Stukeley, Shefford,and the Second Townships Battalion which was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Ruiter. Five members of the Sutton Militia have been identified: Captains Alexander Griggs and John Pickle, Lieutenants Ephraim Hawley and Thomas Shepherd, and Ensign John Smith.Canada was just a British colony at this time.
During the Rebellion in 1837-1838 the Quebec Patriotes were aware that the Americans were sympathetic to their cause and formed a secret society called des Frères Chasseurs (Hunters, Lodges). Theses were active on both sides of the frontier. The militias which protected the Canadian side of the frontier were The Mississquoi Borderers and the Mississquoi Loyal Volunteers and Sutton men were part of these groups.
Two militia companies were formed in Sutton canton, 19 officers and lower officer ranks, and 65 soldiers being enrolled. Twelve of them were still alive in 1902 and each received a medal to commemorative their efforts against the Fenians.
Here are the names of the active militia men men active in 1870. Their names have been found in a manuscript held in the archives of the Brome County Historical Society.