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The Great War: Vimy Ridge
George Van Wyck Laughton, M.C.

Canadian - Serving in the British 3rd Army, 34th Division,  
26th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Irish)

                               


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This page last updated on February 01, 2013

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Major changes to this web site as well as the Laughton Family Tree web site are also now posted to Twitter at this location: http://twitter.com/gilbertlaughton. Gilbert Laughton is the first recorded LAUGHTON on our family tree, thus he has the honour of holding the Twitter account. All of the Laughton Ancestors are also listed on the Telnic Network at: http://ancestors.laughton.tel/.


What follows is our tracking of the major changes made to the web site:

 

January 31, 2013: Although a number of minor modifications have been made in the past two years, the update of this date was significant in that it reflects the change of the web site to the new http://laughton.ca web site, rather than the CENSOL site. In the process of making these updates, most (I hope) of the internal links were checked and corrected. Where it is no longer possible to just link to a directory, individual links were made to the files. External links such as the CWGC and London Gazette were also checked and updated. For the Library and Archives Canada links, it is noted that Grandfather Laughton's digital service record is now available on-line. No new technical information was added during this update but a number of typographical errors were corrected.

All of the links in the "updates" that follow have been changed to the current links, however these pages are unlikely the same as what they were at the time the update was reported.



February 25, 2011: A number of changes were made to the web site, primarily to incorporate new information that had been received but had not yet been added to the site. In particular, copies of newspaper articles and published material relating to Grandfather Laughton were added to the site.

  1. Newspaper Articles contributed by CEFSG Members
  2. Published Books (new 2nd Edition of John Sheen's text) which now contains a photograph of George Laughton, M.C.

Thanks to my fellow members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group for the articles and reports that have been provided. Thanks also to John Sheen for adding Grandfather Laughton to the 2nd Edition of his book. That now means there will always be a permanent record.

There will be a further update to this site in the near future, as soon as I receive the PENSION RECORDS from Veterans Affairs Canada. A request was filed in January 2011, for which I have already received the documents for Grandfather Kennedy, so I suspect those for Grandfather Laughton will arrive soon.

July 14, 2010: I have just completed a change on the web site that relates to the Battle of Vimy Ridge versus the Battle of Arras and the 3 Battles of the Scarpe. The web site incorrectly implied that as a Canadian that George Laughton was a participant in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. In actual fact, only the Canadian Expeditionary Force (all 4 Divisions for the first time) participated in that great battle that has since become know as "The Birth of A Nation". Grandfather Laughton was an officer with the British 3rd Army and on the immediate right (south) of the 1st Canadian Division on April 9, 1917. By all rights it was all in one the same battle. The British call the Canadian attack on Vimy a "diversionary battle" and the Canadians call the British attack on the Arras sector a "parallel assault". The correct name for the British action was the "1st Battle of the Scarpe". Canadians were not involved in the Scarpe action until the 3rd Battle of the Scarpe in May 1917. Details of these changes are reported on the web site here (Battle of Arras). Other changes will be needed but for the moment I did not wish to disturb the links.

March 3, 2008: It ,may appear that it has been a year since we added information to this site but that is not really true.  It is just that we have not added anything of significance to change this page.  Bits and pieces only.  Today however we added all the available information that was in Grandfather Laughton's records for "A Company, No. 1 Platoon" and who made it through the war and who did not.  Check the page on the Platoon Records to find the results.  A useful exercise as before we did not know it was "A" Coy.

March 17, 2007: What a better day than St. Patrick's day to add some more details about the history of Grandfather Laughton, as he did serve most of his time in the Tyneside Irish, 26th Northumberland Fusiliers.  What we have added on this date, however, goes back to Grandfather Laughton's attestation to the 32nd Infantry Battalion (and/or 32nd Reserve Battalion) on July 7, 1916.  It had always been thought that this was just one man signing up with any unit that would take him, so he could then go to Oxford for the Officer Training.  To the contrary, it appears that there was a group of 18 and many of them were in the University of Toronto Canadian Overseas Training Company (C.O.T.C.) and attested as a group.  We have now created a new page that identifies all 18 of the men and links their name to their attestation papers.

January 18, 2007: As a result of continuing investigations and a surge in the interest of the "Unknown Battalions" with our CEFSG research group, I went back to look more closely at how Grandfather Laughton went from the 7th Fusilier Regiment in the Militia to the 142nd Overseas Battalion as a Lieutenant in the CEF (while in Canada) and then to attestation as a Private in the 32nd Infantry Battalion (absorbed by the 15th Reserve Battalion) of the CEF while in Shorncliffe, England.  The pieces appear now to fall in place and as such there has been a major update to his web page that tells the story of his Military Service.  The certificates that recorded this record were barely legible but once it was understood "what might be said" it was possible to read what they actually said.  Now they are preserved in time.

Also discovered at the same time, photocopied on these same sheets, was the certificate for Grandfather Laughton's "War Service Badge".  The badge is not in the collection that I have, probably destroyed in the 1917 fire, and so I can not confirm if it was issued in Canada or England. I have added the information to George's Memorabilia Page.

August 19, 2006: Most of the last months have been busy developing the Canadian Expeditionary Force Matrix Project, which has entailed a lot of research on the Great War, many aspects of which have been used to upgrade this site.  If you are not familiar with the CEF structure during the Great War, take a look at the Matrix to get a better understanding as to what happened.  For a quick update on the Matrix Project, you can also visit the Matrix Blog.  This most current site update was undertaken to improve the layout of the site to improve viewing on a wider selection of computer screens.

April 9, 2006:  To commemorate this day in history, some time was spent updating Grandfather Laughton's web pages as they relate to his role with the Tyneside Irish, 26th Northumberland Fusiliers.  As such, you will find new information posted in the section on the Tyneside Irish.  Time was also spent sending off e-mails to pals in the UK to see if anyone can find a copy of the April 9, 1917 war diary for the 26th Northumberland Fusiliers.

April 8, 2006:  Some time ago I commissioned a review and/or report on the military service of Grandfather Laughton from Chris Baker, author and war historian in England who is best known for his sites on the Long, Long Trail, the Great War Forum and his Military History of Families.  The report arrived on April 4, 2006 and it has now been scanned and posted to this web site as "Military Service History of George Van Wyck Laughton".  This is a B&W copy to minimize the size of the PDF, so if anyone wants a better copy, just ask.  You will see that there are a large number of attachments to the report, each of which has been individually scanned and posted.  These attachments tell a lot more than what is in the report.  The section on the medical records is quite detailed.  It is amazing that so much Canadian information was available in the UK archives but not the Canadian archives.  We are still missing the April 9th, 1917 war diary page which is the most critical - as the question of his M.C. remains unanswered.  The sheet is enclosed in these files but it is too faint to read.  We are working on other sources, such as a reported copy in the Newcastle Public Library.

March 18, 2006:  A month has passed, as I have been occupied on the Canadian Expeditionary Force "Matrix Project", a new initiative to tie together all the components of Canadian's who served in the Great War.  This does apply to Grandfather Laughton, as he was initially in the Militia 7th Regiment, which was absorbed into the 142nd Battalion CEF (see here) prior to taking off to England to join the BEF.  The pieces are all starting to fit together, as there was an alliance between the 7th Regiment (Canadian Fusiliers) and his BEF posting (Northumberland Fusiliers), the details of which we are still researching.  I passed by here today to add a site index.

February 18, 2006:  A number of "cosmetic changes" were made to the web site to better organize the individual pages and directories.  This all started with the addition of the new information on the University of Toronto Roll of Service, which I realized should be in with the other archived material.  As such, all of the archived material was moved under a common directory.  Following on that approach, I moved formerly separate directories on the Tyneside Irish, the 34th Battalion and the 26th Northumberland Fusiliers into one directory.  The layout of the pages were changed so that the navigation bars for the main site are horizontally placed at the top and the links for the sub-pages are vertically placed on the left.  The background theme was changed to provide colours that are more visible with the new computers and screens.  If you come across any pages that are not of this new format, please let me know.

August 20, 2005:  Additional details on the record of service of G. V. Laughton were extracted and posted to the CEF-BEF page, along with the existing discussions of the movement of soldiers from the CEF to the BEF to assume officer positions.  Thanks to Chris Wight for getting me moving on this specific issue, as I was stalled.  Access to this information would not have been possible without the assistance of the CEF Study Group.

August 13, 2005:  Copies of Grandfather Laughton's "Letters for the Front" were provided to the Canadian Great War Project, along with a summary of George's military record.  This information was taken from various sources, however there may be errors with information relating to his transfer between the CEF and BEF.  Family records and memories do not necessarily agree with the historical records, perhaps due to transcription errors but more likely due to the actual story line that George passed on to his family members.  As noted on the Family Tree Website, there is some question as to whether Grandfather Laughton (George 1897) was shipped to England with the CEF or whether he could not wait and found his own way to England!

July 4, 2005: I have spent much of the last few months working on bringing my new Great War Project on my maternal grandfather up to the state of this web site, but we have not forgotten about George.  In fact, it has been an enlightening experience as it has revealed that both grandfathers started in the CEF as privates and transferred to the BEF to assume officer positions.  I am now looking into greater details of the aspect of the "Other Canadians" (i.e. those in the BEF not the CEF) who fought at Vimy and in other arenas in Europe.  As such, I have been reading a lot about these various aspects and have found a number of great new resources, both text and internet based.  As such, I have now split the web page on The Battle of Arras into two pages, one dealing with the History of Vimy Ridge and the second telling of the exploits of Grandfather Laughton at Vimy through his personal records of April 1917.

April 24, 2005: A rainy weekend drives me back to update some of the records that have been left unattended for some time.  We have added to the sections for our records found within the London Gazette and as well as the UK National Archives (formerly the PRO).  These links take you to the pages of this site where the updates can be reviewed.  A few new references from the Gazette were found, however it appears that the only way to get the all records from the UK National Archives is to have that done "at the site" as the web site only identifies what is available.  We were able to locate the actual MEDAL CARD for George Vanwyck Laughton (note spelling difference) and that information has been added to this web site (with images of the card).

April 16, 2005: Over the winter a few modifications were made to the site and research continued on the collection of background information, particularly from the Toronto Star Archives.  A number of articles were located that specifically related to the exploits of George, copies of which are now posted on the Family Tree web site for George Van Wyck Laughton (Torstar Archives for GVL).  The CEF Forum started up in Canada, leading to the preparation of a summary on the positions held by G. V. Laughton in both the CEF and the BEF.  A separate page now documents this topic, based partly on family history and partly on the records obtained from Archives Canada.  We are still awaiting records from England.  The new page is now on the index as CEF-BEF Positions.

July 21, 2004: Today we retained the services of Chris Baker (Great War Family Research) to start additional research of the records that are not available to us here in Canada, including those at the Public Records Office.  Through this additional research we hope to be able to resolve some of the conflicting issues (i.e. the descriptions relating to the award of the Military Cross) and to locate additional service records. Chris tells us we should not expect results for at least 8 weeks.

July 3, 2004:  In response to direct questions from the Forum, we have added some additional information on the Great War web site under the Memorabilia section as well as more of the Arras Photos.  We have also reformatted our contact information with an aim to reducing SPAM e-mail that has been proliferated by web mail robots capturing posted e-mail addresses.  Our contact information has now been centralized on the CENSOL web site, where you can read our e-mail address but you must enter it manually in order to contact us directly.

May 27, 2004:  I inadvertently came across the Despatches of Sir Douglas Haig, Commander in Chief of the British Forces during WW1, through a linked posted on the WW1 Document Archive.  This is an excellent site for many historical documents prepared and presented during this period.  We have added reference to the Haig Despatches on the Battle of Arras Page on this site.  The Fourth Despatch is an excellent reference to the Campaigns of 1917.  There are mentions of George Van Wyck Laughton in the Haig Despatches, however I have yet to search and locate these references.

May 22, 2004:  There is an overlap in the work that is being completed on the Family Tree Project, with that of the Great War Project.  A search of the archives of the Toronto Star (Ontario, Canada) revealed a number of pages on various Laughton brothers of this era.  Those relating to George Van Wyck Laughton are now posted on our Family Tree web site, as are some of the others.

April 19, 2004:  We have added this page so that you can mark any page on this web, by adding the specific web page address, in to the monitor box above.  That way you will get an automatic e-mail at any time that page changes.  If you just mark this page, you will only be notified if I change the text on this Update Notice (major events).

April 17, 2004:  As I find more information on George Van Wyck I am adding it to the web site.  As I am now working on the Family Tree Project, I have come across additional information and memorabilia.

April 15, 2004:  After some time away from the web site and this history project, I have returned to bring some pages up to date.  I have added the new section on the Tyneside Irish, as a result of the large number of requests for more information about the 34th Division and the 26th Northumberland Fusiliers.  I will be adding more information from the books that I have been reading over the next few weeks (or months if the weather is good!)

Winter and Spring 2003:  Although I put in a few nights of research, I often found myself instead engulfed in the new information I was finding on Chris Baker's Great War Forum.  Not only was it exciting to find so many other's around the world with an interest in the Great War, it provided an opportunity to ask questions and receive answers from so many "new friends".  Finding that there was access to the London Gazette and the Public Records Office at Kew, were certainly major events.  Even more important was learning what the PRO actually was.

October 18, 2002:  What a find, Chris Baker's Great War Forum.  I joined on as the 42nd member that month and now in April 2003 (when this page is being started) there are 2,905 registered members (who knows how many just visit).  There have been over 96,000 postings.

September 24, 2002:  My first view of Nicholson's text on the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) was a major finding.  No where else is there such a detailed overview of the CEF from inception.  Whether your "hero" was in the CEF or the BEF, the text is a must read.  Unknown to me at the time, my grandfather started in the CEF and switched to the BEF to take an officer's commission, as the fast track to seeing action.  That was certainly an important step in my research, as now I had to switch to reading history books from the United Kingdom and not Canada.   How little I really knew at the start!

July 10, 2002:  The Great War web page telling the story of George Van Wyck Laughton is initiated.  The site started small, and in a simple format created with Netscape, but soon the amount of information grew and the site was revamped into a "true site" with a number of directories, pages and an index.  This necessitated the change to Microsoft Front Page as the tool of the trade.

 

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