Ralph Leonard James Craig

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Saint Marys Parish, York County, New Brunswick, Canada

General information


Army information

Canadian Expeditionary Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Valcartier Camp, Quebec, Canada
 —  Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Sanctuary Wood, Zillebeke, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Distinctions and medals 3

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 Place of death (approximate)

My story

Ralph was born in April 1898 to James Craig and Nellie Sommerville of Zionville, New Brunswick. In September 1914 the 16-year-old enlisted at Valcartier Camp, Quebec. Ralph lied about his age and stated that he had served a year with the 71st Regiment. Ralph was assigned to help reinforce the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

In late May 1916 the 3rd Canadian Division, which had recently been reinforced with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, was defending the surroundings of Mount Sorrel, one of the few bits of high ground east of Ypres that was in Allied hands.

In the morning of 2 June 1916 the Canadian positions were demolished by shelling and in the afternoon the Germans exploded four mines. Sandbags, machine guns and defenders were thrown into the air with a deafening roar. The entire line disappeared in an instant. This was the signal for the German XIII (Royal Württemberg) Army Corps. In four waves, they overran the lines from Mount Sorrel to over Tor Top. Assisted by flamethrowers, they met little resistance. After the unusually fierce and accurate bombardment, only small groups of Canadians were still able to make a stand, as the fierce shelling had knocked out almost all machine guns. With all the effort in the world, the Patricias in Sanctuary Wood were able to hold off the attack, though their right Company, which was in the line north of Tor Top and bore the brunt of the attack, was virtually annihilated.

In a couple of hours the Germans controlled all positions, from Mount Sorrel to Tor Top. Believing that the Allied resistance had broken, they descended from the ridge, but they encountered renewed resistance from reserve battalion at Zillebeke and Maple Copse and it was decided to abandon any further attacks.

The losses among the Canadian battalions in the front line were terrible. From 2 to 4 June, the Patricia’s counted about 100 missing. They did manage to cling on to their positions in Sanctuary Wood. Ralph, still only 18, was killed by shell fire, while in the trenches at about 11:30 am on 2 June 1916. There was no time to recover Ralph’s body for burial and his body was left at the positions in Sanctuary Wood. To this day Ralph has no known grave and he is remembered on the Menin Gate.

Files 2

Sources 5

Cook T., Shock Troops: Canadians fighting the Great War 1917-1918. Volume II (Toronto, Penguin Canada, 2008), 351-354.
Sources used
Hodder-Williams R., Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry: 1914-1919. Volume I (Londen, Hodder and Stoughton, 1923) 136.
Sources used
Personnel Records of the First World War (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC) RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 4930 - 35).
Sources used
War Graves Registers: Circumstances of Death (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), Record Group Number: RG 150, 1992-93/314; Volume Number: 168).
Sources used
War Graves Registry: Commonwealth War Graves (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), RG150, 1992-1993/314, Box 39-244; Box: 59).
Sources used