September 28, 1916: Private Alexander J. Landry

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Private Alexander J. Landry

Date of Birth: August 8, 1893 at Pomquet, NS

Parents: Pierre J. “Peter Joe” & Caroline (Decoste) Landry, Pomquet Antigonish County

Siblings: Sister Mary; brothers William Henry & Joseph Augustine (died In childhood)

Marital Status: Single

Occupation: Farmer

Enlistment: September 15, 1915 at Sussex, NB

Units: 64th Overseas Battalion (Maritime Provinces); 26th Battalion (New Brunswick)

Service #: 470249

Rank:  Private

Previous Military Service: None

Next of Kin: Pierre Landry, Pomquet, Antigonish County, NS (father)

Date of Death: September 28, 1916 near Courcelette, France

Final Resting Place: Regina Trench Cemetery, Grandcourt, France

 

Alexander Landry was born at Pomquet, Antigonish County on August 8, 1893. His father, Pierre J. “Peter Joe,” was a farmer and postmaster, his descendants operating “Landry’ Store” for many years. Alex’s great-grandfather, Joseph Charles Landry, was an Acadian who returned to Nova Scotia with his father, having lived in France for 35 years following the family’s expulsion from Isle St. Jean (PEI).  In 1793, the large family settled in three different locations at Pomquet. Joseph Charles established residence along what is now the Monks Head Road, near the Church, family descendants still living there today.

Alex Landry traveled to Sussex, NB and enlisted with the 64th Overseas Battalion on September 15, 1915. The unit relocated to Halifax in early 1916 and departed aboard SS Adriatic on March 31, 1916. Upon landing in England on April 9, the soldiers made their way to Bramshott Camp. In June 1916, the 64th was disbanded and Alex was transferred to the 26th Battalion (New Brunswick), a unit serving in France with the 2nd Division’s 5th Brigade.

In late summer 1916, the Canadian Corps relocated from its positions in Belgium’s Ypres Salient to the Somme region of France, entering trenches in front of the village of Courcelette. The Canadians were brought in to continue the British Somme offensive, whose main purpose was to relieve pressure on French Armies at Verdun. Canadian units opened their offensive on September 15, 1916, when the 5th Brigade’s three other battalions—the 22nd (“Van Doos,” Quebec), 24th (Victoria Rifles, Montreal) and 25th(Nova Scotia)—captured Courcelette with the assistance of several tanks, the new weapon’s first battlefield deployment.

Beyond the village lay the Canadian Corps’ next objective, a ridge and defensive position known to Canadians as “Regina Trench.” At 5:00 a.m. September 28, the 26th Battalion received orders to “move and immediately seize and hold hill 130… about 1500 yards from our front line and [on the] other side of Regina trench, which… was strongly held by Germans.” The unit advanced 600 yards along the East Miraumont Road, at which point the morning mist lifted, exposing its soldiers to enemy observation.

Three German machine guns immediately opened fire, inflicting about 40 causalities and forcing the remaining soldiers to take shelter along the “sunken road.” Throughout the day, the slightest movement drew a hail of bullets. At 3:00 p.m., the 26th attempted a second, unsuccessful advance. Finally, at 8:50 p.m., the battalion, reduced to “only about 200 strong,” made “a bold attempt to rush Regina Trench,” but was once again “forced to fall back as before with fierce machine gun fire and heavy bombing.”

The 26th suffered two Officers killed and three wounded, 25 “other ranks” (OR) killed and 128 wounded, and 24 OR missing—a total of 182 casualties in a single day’s fighting.  Private Alex Landry was amongst the 25 OR killed southwest of Courcelette on September 28, 1916. He was laid to rest in Regina Trench Cemetery, Grandcourt, France.


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