Information about birth

Date of birth:
16/08/1898
Place of birth:
Siksika Nation reserve, Gleichen, Alberta, Canada

General information

Profession:
Cattleman
Religion:
Roman Catholic

Army information

Country:
Canada
Force:
Canadian Expeditionary Force
Rank:
Private
Service number:
895403
Enlistment place:
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Units:
 —  Canadian Infantry, 50th Bn. (Calgary)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
23/10/1917
Place of death:
Tyne Cottage, Tyne Cot, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)
Age:
19

Memorial

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 ‘Place of death’

My story

The 18-year-old cowboy Mike Foxhead enlists in October 1916. Together with his friends and acquaintances he is assigned to the 191st Battalion. In the summer of 1917, Mike embarks for England to complete his military training. At the end of September Mike joins the 50th Battalion near Vimy. The cool late summer days are filled with training and working patrols behind the front.

While Mike is being drafted into the 50th Battalion, the Battle of Passchendaele, the Third Battle of Ypres, is raging in full force. In October 1917 the four Canadian divisions move into Flanders. In the dead of night Mike's unit arrives at Ypres on 21 October 1917. After a short break for tea and rations the battalion moves further east, deeper into the nightmare. Along the road between Zonnebeke and Langemark, they relieve Australian troops in support. Before they can take up their positions, they are already under fire. The narrow front now holds few secrets for the German artillery, which is well aware of Allied movements. Gas grenades exploded dangerously close by. The shock of the explosions rips gas masks from faces. Several boys are gassed. The tone is set.

On 22 October the Canadians continue their march to Passchendaele. Mike's unit is in the frontline near Tyne Cot, along the Ypres-Roulers railway line. Conditions in the new positions before Passchendaele are terrible. The Canadians, crowded at the foot of the hill, await the attack of 26 October. The units are under almost constant fire. Signaller Victor Wheeler, 50th Battalion, described the Passchendaele drive as follows:

"Mud and weeping skies joined in the wretched cacophony of bursting shells, screaming bullets, shattering shrapnel, and the tortuous cries of the wounded and the dying. [...] Men were crazed, some driven stark insane. Unmitigated hell reigned."

Mike Foxhead, a boy of barely 19, is killed on Tuesday 23 October 1917. He is buried at the Canadian positions near Tyne Cot.

Sources 9

“Blackfeet Indians Volunteer to Fight our Fight For Us.” In: The Gleichen Call: donderdag 1 February 1917.
Sources used
“Pte. Mike Foxhead Writes From England.” In: The Gleichen Call: donderdag 16 August 1917.
Sources used
Circumstances of Death
https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/mass-digitized-archives/circumstances-death-registers/Pages/circumstances-death-registers.aspx
Sources used
Glenbow Archives, NA-2164-1
Sources used
Glenbow Museum, NA-5-16
Sources used
The Long, Long Trail
https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/
Sources used
War Diary
http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/lac-bac/search/arch
Sources used
War Graves Registers
https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/mass-digitized-archives/commonwealth-war-graves-registers/pages/commonwealth-war-graves-registers.aspx
Sources used
Wheeler V.W. The 50th Battalion in No Man’s Land., Ottawa, CEF Books, 2000.
Sources used