Lewis Murray Southgate

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
London (City), Middlesex, England, United Kingdom

General information

Church of England

Army information

Canadian Expeditionary Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Valcartier Camp, Quebec, Canada
 —  Canadian Infantry, 13th Bn. (Royal Highlanders)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Keerselare, Belgium


Points of interest 3

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

My story

Lewis Southgate was born in London on 21 April 1893, the son of Lewis Murray Southgate and Frances Elizabeth Southgate. Before enlisting, he worked as a clerk and had already served two years with the 63rd Halifax Rifles. When war broke out in August 1914, there was no shortage of volunteers. Only the best were selected. With his military experience, Lewis was exactly what the Canadian army was looking for. He enlisted at Valcartier, Quebec, in September 1914 and was assigned to the Canadian Infantry, 13th Battalion (Royal Highlanders).

His unit left for Europe in early October 1914. In April 1915, the Canadians were first deployed at Ypres. They took part in the second Battle of Ypres. The second week of April, the battalion was stationed at Cassel. There the battalion was given a rest of sorts and praised by the general for the hard work they had done in the trenches the weeks before. The men also received instructions and attended lectures. On 16 April, they marched about half a mile, after which they boarded buses. They were taken to Ypres. On arrival, they immediately marched on to the village of St Jean, just east of Ypres. On arrival, they were ordered to "keep ready to leave within a minute". On the night of Wednesday 21 April, the 13th advanced to the front line and took over a series of trenches from the 14th Battalion between St Julian and Poelcapelle. The trenches were in poor condition and the area was littered with unburied soldiers. After days of shelling, a cloud of gas drifted towards the French and Algerian lines directly to the left of the 13th Battalion on 22 April 1915. It was the first time poison gas had been used on a large scale. Hundreds suffocated in the trenches. The survivors fled. The entire left flank of the 13th Battalion was in the air. Reinforcements were called up from the reserve. The Highlanders of the 13th, who had not been greatly affected by the gas, reacted quickly and together with the remnants of the French colonials organised defences at Keerselaere along the Brugseweg to Poelcapelle. They extended their line hundreds of metres south to look straight into the more than six-kilometre-wide gap that had opened up in the front line. The hastily set up defences held despite heavy losses. The Germans continued to press and several flank attacks and enfilading fire took their toll. German attacks nibbled at the flanks and several posts were knocked out. But the Highlanders' resistance had slowed the German advance.

In the chaos caused by the gas attack and shelling, Private Lewis Southgate, one day after his 22nd birthday, disappeared. To this day, Lewis has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate.

Files 1

Sources 4

Fetherstonhaugh R.C., ed. The 13th Battalion Royal Highlanders of Canada 1914-1919 (Uckfield, The Naval & Military Press Ltd. 2014) 44.
Sources used
Personnel Records of the First World War (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), RG 150; Volume: Box 9163 - 39).
Sources used
War diaries: 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), RG9-III-D-3, Volume number: 4921, Microfilm reel number: T-10714, File number: 382).
Sources used
War Graves Registers: Circumstances of Death (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), RG150, 1992-1993/314, Box 39-244; Box: 123).
Sources used