Pte
Robert Hamilton

Information about birth

Date of birth:
04/03/1889
Place of birth:
Donagheady, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

General information

Profession:
Labourer
Religion:
Presbyterian

Army information

Country:
Canada
Force:
Canadian Expeditionary Force
Rank:
Private
Service number:
432667
Enlistment date:
11/01/1915
Enlistment place:
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Units:
 —  Canadian Infantry, 49th Bn. (Edmonton)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
05/06/1916
Place of death:
Sanctuary Wood, Zillebeke, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)
Age:
27

Memorial

Points of interest 3

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

My story

Robert Hamilton, an Irish-Canadian labourer, fell near Zillebeke on 5 June 1916. Robert was born in 1889 in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. As a young man, he emigrated to Canada. Hoping to build a better life there.

In January 1915, Robert enlisted in Edmonton, Alberta. He was assigned to the Canadian Infantry, 49th Battalion (Edmonton), part of the brand-new 3rd Canadian Division.

In late May 1916, the Canadian Corps occupied the heights near Zillebeke. Its front line ran from the hamlet of Hooge over Hill 62 and Mount Sorrel to the foot of Hill 60. The positions between Mount Sorrel and Hill 62 are the only places at Ypres where the Allies held higher ground than the Germans. It was here that the Allies planned a large-scale attack.

The German attack in the morning of 2 June was the start of the Battle of Mount Sorrel. After heavy shelling, the Germans detonated four mines at Mount Sorrel that afternoon. The Württemberger troops then overran the high ground.

Canadian reinforcements, including the 49th Battalion, were rushed to the front. After marching all night, they launched a hastily improvised attack. At the starting positions, confusion reigned. The Canadian battalions went into the attack one by one, not knowing whether the men next to them would be able to follow. Meanwhile, it was full daylight. The shelling was murderous. Only small groups managed to reach German lines. The Canadians did not succeed in taking back the high ground but were able to dig in at the foot of the ridge.

The 49th Battalion advanced through Yeomanry Post to Sanctuary Wood. It was one of the few units who gained a foothold in the German line. On the night of 4-5 June 1916, the unit was relieved. Its losses were heavy. The battalion counted 45 killed, 257 wounded and 69 boys were missing.

Robert Hamilton, 27, was one of the missing. He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

Sources 5

Census of Ireland 1901/1911 (The National Archives of Ireland, Dublin (NAI)).
https://www.nationalarchives.ie/
Sources used
Personnel Records of the First World War (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC) RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 3987 - 39 Item Number: 441011).
https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/personnel-records/Pages/search.aspx
Sources used
War diaries - 49th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), RG9-III-D-3, Volume number: 4940, Microfilm reel number: T-10747, File number: 440).
https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/
Sources used
War Graves Registers: Circumstances of Death (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), Record Group Number: RG 150, 1992-93/314; Volume Number: 188).
https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/mass-digitized-archives/circumstances-death-registers/Pages/circumstances-death-registers.aspx
Sources used
War Graves Registry: Commonwealth War Graves (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), RG150, 1992-1993/314, Box 39-244; Box: 75).
https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/mass-digitized-archives/commonwealth-war-graves-registers/pages/commonwealth-war-graves-registers.aspx
Sources used