Nesbitt soldier remembered 100 years after death

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A First World War soldier from Nesbitt who was killed in action has been honourably adopted by a Royal Tank Regiment Association in Britain.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/10/2018 (1436 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A First World War soldier from Nesbitt who was killed in action has been honourably adopted by a Royal Tank Regiment Association in Britain.

“We spotted this lone Canadian grave with a maple leaf headstone,” said Tony Hart, secretary to the Bournemouth, Poole & District Branch, Royal Tank Regiment Association. “We are doing something and he’s not being forgotten.”

Pte. Frank Skuce served in the 27th Battalion, Canadian Infantry, Manitoba Regiment. He was wounded in action while fighting in France and was evacuated to England.

Frank Donald Skuce displays the plaque commemorating the death of his uncle in the First World War, Monday in Brandon. (Chelsea Kemp/The Brandon Sun)

Skuce died in a hospital in Poole, Dorset, England on Nov. 4, 1918, a week before the war ended.

He is the only known Canadian serviceman buried in the Poole Cemetery.

Hart imagines the war would have been the first time Skuce would have travelled more than 50 kilometres from his home.

With Skuce —a conscript recruited to the war — dying 100 years ago in a war thousands of kilometres from home, Hart thinks that it is highly unlikely that the grave has had many, if any, visitors.

“We decided that should change,” Hart said. “He’s been under the radar as such, and it was time to put him back on the radar.”

Comprised of ex-military members, Hart said the Royal Tank Regiment believed it was important to ensure that everybody is remembered.

The gravestone itself is under a large tree close to the chapel, leaving it permanently in the shade and a little bit dirty.

“We got the scrubbing brush out and have given it a good scrub,” Hart said.

The group has cleaned up his gravestone, and a wreath will be laid on Sunday, Nov. 4, on the 100-year anniversary of Skuce’s death. A member of the local clergy will lead a prayer during the service.

Speaking with the Canadian High Commission in London, the group was able to obtain Skuce’s service record, which allowed them to learn a little more about him.

He was wounded in action on Oct. 13, 1918, receiving a bullet wound to the right hip, and was eventually evacuated England, where he was diagnosed with influenza on Nov. 1. He died three days later.

“He received a wound that might well have been survivable had it not been for the flu as well,” Hart said. “The combination of the bullet wound and the Spanish flu sort of finished the poor chap off.”

The grave of Private Frank Skuce, a Nesbitt soldier killed in the First World War, is pictured in Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom. (Photo Submitted)

A nephew who carries his uncle’s namesake hopes to visit the site one day.

Frank Donald Skuce wants to see the memory of his uncle preserved, along with those who serve and have served in the military at any time.

Skuce had four other uncles who were also conscripted to the military, on his father’s side.

His family did not talk much about his uncle growing up, gaining mention typically only around Remembrance Day.

Skuce still has war mementoes commemorating the soldier’s service in the First World War, including a plaque given to family members of those killed in the war, along with his photo and draft papers.

“I really didn’t know all that much about him,” Skuce said. “I wish I had known him.”

» ckemp@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @The_ChelseaKemp

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