Roland Merritt was a gunner with the 40th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery. The artifacts below have been provided by his grand-daughter, Anne, whose father, Robert, Roland's son, explained, “At the end of the war my father was given the choice -‘ wait for the medal presentation by the king – or take the next ship home’. He took the next ship home. He was a member of the 40th Battery, Can. Field Artillery – and was noted as being the fastest runner and strongest man in the battery. He came home as Acting Sergeant and never talked very much about the war except to his old comrades.”
Sergeant Merritt’s son reports that the medal was presented by King George V and, inscribed around the edge is: 302 227 Gnr A Bmbr R.L. Merritt Can F.A.
During his time on the Western Front, Sergeant Merritt kept a diary. His cryptic entries from 1918, as seen in the collection below, provide inklings of a soldier’s existence and of the horrors of life at the front. Note his entry for the end of the war on 11 November 1918
Sgt. Merritt’s Diary
11 March 1918: Reach horse lines 4p.m. on Arras – Bethune Road.
14 March 1918: Come to guns. Left section forward. Gas at 9.30
15 March 1918: We raid at 5.30. 110 rds. A few prisoners today.
17 March 1918: Pull gun out on open. 25 oR (indistinct). 80 rds on mach guns at 11pm
20 March 1918: Pay day
21 March 1918: Gunners change. I stay on.
23 March 1918: Sudden move to Ghellus (?) X roads on Ridge
26 March 1918: Move 500 yds ahead, near brow.
29 March 1918: Battle on right flank of barrage gas
30 March 1918: Buck & Connors come up.
|29 June 1918: Go into action at Cigny relieving (sic) 20 Btty.|
5 August 1918: Rubins killed
7 August 1918: Move out of Boves W (?) at night
8 August 1918: See Roy G. at 6. AM
Cross line at 9. AM
9 August 1918: advance
10 August 1918: Stand in reserve at noon behind Bouchoir
19 August 1918: Leave Cayeux
20 August 1918: Près Camor (?)
21 August 1918: à Fièffes ( ?)
22 August 1918: à Rebreuviette
23 August 1918 : Sais pas
Go in at Arras
|11 November 1918: Der Tag|
In addition to the information provided by Robert Merritt, the following was provided by Anne Merritt, grand-daughter of Roland Merritt, and wife of Robert Hamilton, the Secretary of the FCWM.
“The Merritt family are of Loyalist stock settling in the Niagara peninsula in the late 18th century. William Hamilton Merritt was the builder of the Welland canal.
The Merritt family were farmers in the Grimsby area on the Niagara Escarpment. Roland was born in 1894, and was a teacher at a rural school when he enlisted in April 1915. On his return to Canada, almost four years later in 1919, he resumed his teaching duties, in Toronto. He returned to Grimsby to farm once again when he retired from teaching in 1946.”
Provided by Robert Merritt with input from Anne Merritt.