April 5, 1918: Private Ambrose Paul Levangie [Lavandier]

Levangie Ambrose Paul

Date of Birth: October 9, 1892 at Frankville, Antigonish County

Parents: Paul and Elizabeth (Levangie) Levangie

Siblings: Brothers George, Vincent, Joseph, Gilbert, William, Peter, Patrick, Elias and Lawrence; sisters Charlotte, Mary and Stella (Sister Mary Firma, SC)

Marital Status: Single

Occupation: Grain Buyer

Enlistment: April 27, 1917 at Moose Jaw, SK

Units: 229th Battalion (South Saskatchewan); 46th Battalion (South Saskatchewan)

Service #: 1009976

Rank: Private

Previous Military Service: None

Next of Kin: Paul Levangie, Frankville, Antigonish County, NS (father)

Date of Death: April 5, 1918 near Lens, France

Final Resting Place: Roclincourt Military Cemetery, France

Ambrose Paul Levangie was born at Frankville, Antigonish County, NS. Ambrose belonged to a large Acadian family descended from Antoine Lavandier of the Diocese of Avranches, Normandy, France, a navigator who came to Nova Scotia in the employment of Claude Pettipas, Port Toulouse (St. Peters), Isle Royale (Cape Breton).

Pettipas, a schooner captain and merchant who also served as a Mi’kmaq interpreter, first married a native bride around 1686 and thus came to know the native language well. The couple first lived at Musquodoboit, the marriage producing at least seven children. Around 1717, the family then moved to Port Toulouse, Isle Royale, where Claude’s first wife passed away soon afterward. In 1721, he remarried Françoise, daughter of Pierre Lavergne, Port Royale. Claude met his 17-year-old bride while visiting the French settlement and took her back to his Port Toulouse home.

Claude’s second marriage produced four sons: Jean-Baptiste, Jacques, Louis Benjamin and Joseph Pettipas. After Claude’s death in 1731, three of his sons—Jean-Baptiste, Jacques, and Joseph—settled at Tracadie, Antigonish County, leaving many descendants scattered throughout nearby communities.

Francoise (Lavergne) Pettipas, now a 28-year-old widow, remarried Antoine Lavandier at Port Toulouse and subsequently gave birth to two children, Abraham (b. 1734) and Marguerite (b. 1735). Abraham Lavandier followed his half-brother, Louis Pettipas, to Chezzetcook in 1760. Twenty years later, he moved to Isle Madame, but relocated soon afterward to Havre Boucher—close to his Pettipas half-brothers in Linwood and Tracadie—where he received a land grant in 1809. Three of his children were born in Chezzetcook, three at Port Toulouse (St. Peters), three at Arichat and one at Havre Boucher. Abraham’s many Antigonish descendants now spell their surname “Levangie.”

Abraham’s son, Charles Lavandier, was Ambrose Paul Levangie’s great-grandfather, while his grandfather, George Lavandier, married Matilde Maillet. Ambrose’s father, Pascal (Paul) Lavandier, married Mary Elizabeth Lavandier. One of Ambrose’s siblings, Patrick Xavier, lived to 100 years of age in the old family home, just beyond the railroad tracks in Frankville.

Of special note, another Lavandier descendant, Benjamin, was killed in action at the Somme, France on November 14, 1916 while serving with the 1st Canadian Division’s 2nd Field Artillery Brigade. The son of Charles and Josephine Lavandier, Benjamin enlisted in September 1914 and was part of the first Contingent of Canadians sent overseas.

Ambrose Paul Levangie was working as a grain buyer at Gouverneur, Saskatchewan—a town that no longer exists—when he made his way to Moose Jaw and enlisted with the 229th Battalion (South Saskatchewan Regiment) on April 27, 1916. The 229th Battalion commenced recruitment in early 1916, but did not proceed overseas until April 18, 1917, when it departed Halifax aboard SS Northland. The unit was dissolved only weeks after arriving in England, and its personnel absorbed into the 19th Reserve Battalion.

Ambrose was subsequently assigned to the 46th Battalion (South Saskatchewan).
The 46th was established on February 1, 1915 and mobilized at the Moose Jaw Armoury under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert Snell, a Moose Jaw merchant. The unit departed Canada on October 23, 1915 and spent the winter in England, sailing from Southampton on August 10, 1916 and landing in France the same day.

The 46th was assigned to the 10th Canadian Infantry Brigade in the newly assembled 4th Canadian Division. The unit, which initially consisted of 1,100 men, recorded 1,433 fatalities and 3,484 wounded during 27 months’ service in the line. Its 91 % casualty rate prompted its Canadian Corps comrades to refer to the 46th as “the Suicide Battalion.”

Ambrose joined the 46th’s ranks after Vimy Ridge (April 9, 1917), as reinforcements restored the unit to full strength. Assigned to “C” Company, he saw action at Hill 70, near Lens, France in mid-August, followed by combat at Passchendaele, Belgium in late October. After the 4th Division’s withdrawal from the Ypres Salient, its units made their way south to France’s Avion Sector. Throughout the winter of 1917-18, the 10th Brigade followed a regular rotation in the line, its battalions moving into the front trenches near Hill 70 in late March 1918.

On the night of April 4, 1918, the 46th Battalion relieved the 85th Battalion (Nova Scotia Highlanders) in the Gavrelle Sector, near Hill 70. At 4:45 a.m. April 5, the unit came under a heavy artillery bombardment. Shelling continued until 10:30 a.m. as its soldiers scrambled to find whatever shelter was available. The battalion’s war diary later reported two fatalities—Privates M.C. Lalonde and Ambrose Paul Levangie— and 11 wounded, one of whom—a Pte. H. Walker—later died of wounds at an Advanced Field Ambulance Station.

Ambrose was laid to rest in Roclincourt Military Cemetery, two miles north of Arras, France. Lieutenant Fred R. Knight, “C” Company’s Commanding Officer, wrote a letter of sympathy to Ambrose’s parents, dated April 6, 1918, the day following their son’s death. The correspondence was later published in “The Casket.”

Of note, Ambrose’s brother, Mark Gilbert Levangie, enlisted with the 106th Battalion (Nova Scotia Rifles), in the company of Alexander Fougere. Both Frankville boys listed their occupation as telegraph operator. While Gilbert survived the war, Alexander was killed in action at Passchendaele, Belgium on November 3, 1917.

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