Harry Richard Lee

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Halstad, Minnesota, United States of America

General information

Last known residence:
Iddesleigh, Alberta, Canada

Army information

Canadian Expeditionary Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
 —  Canadian Infantry, 50th Bn. (Calgary)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Decline Copse, Passchendaele, Belgium
Cause of death:
Missing in action


Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 4

#1 Place of birth
#2 Last known residence
#3 Enlistment place
#4 Place of death (approximate)

My story

Harry Richard Lee was born on 24 November 1896 in Halstad, Minnesota, USA. His parents were Bertha Halvorsen and Robert Lee, who was a carpenter. Harry had five sisters and three brothers. The family moved to Iddesleigh, Alberta. Before joining the army, Harry worked as a farmer. In April 1916, when Harry was 19 years old, he enlisted in Medicine Hat, Alberta. In September 1917, Harry went to France, where he was assigned to the Canadian Infantry 50th Battalion (Calgary) part of the 10th brigade, of the 4th Canadian Division.

On 26 October 1917, during the Canadian opening attack at Passchendaele, the 4th Division advanced to the heights of the infamous village. Advancing through the swampy valley proved impossible. The division could only attack with one battalion. Only a narrow strip along the railway line and the road from Broodseinde to Passchendaele proved dry enough. The front of the 46th Battalion (South Saskatchewan) was barely 550 metres wide and dominated by several German pillboxes. The 46th suffered heavy losses and would eventually lose 70% of its men. Harry's battalion the 50th (Calgary) was in the second line. At 9.40am it was sent forward in support of the 46th. Together they managed to take Decline Copse, the first objective of the attack, but any further advance proved impossible. After noon, German artillery fire increased and a German counterattack forced the 46th to retreat through the 50th's line to positions some 500 metres from their starting point under heavy machine-gun fire. That night Harry's Battalion went in search of wounded, but German artillery fire hampered the operation.

Harry Richard Lee went missing on 26 October 1917 at the age of 20. To this day, there is no known grave of him and his name is engraved on the Menin Gate.

Files 2

Sources 6

McCarthy, Chris. Passchendaele: the Day-by-Day Account. (Londen: Unicorn Publishing Group, 2018), 145-146.
Sources used
Personnel Records of the First World War (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC) RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 5524 - 38).
Sources used
War diaries - 50th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), RG9-III-D-3, Volume number: 4941, Microfilm reel number: T-10747--T-10748, File number: 441).
Sources used
War Graves Registers: Circumstances of Death (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), RG 150, 1992-93/314; Volume Number: 205).
Sources used
War Graves Registry: Commonwealth War Graves (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), RG150, 1992-1993/314, Box 39-244; Box: 89).
Sources used
Wheeler V.W., The 50th Battalion in No Man’s Land (Ottawa, CEF Books, 2000).
Sources used