The attestation paper for Private William Henry Travis-Barker. (Contributed)

Looking Back: ‘Because he died that day’

Tthis Remembrance Day marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Nov. 11 is upon us and we should all remember this day and honour it by paying our respects with attendance at a local cenotaph.

Such respect is particularly important this year as this Remembrance Day marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

I will mark the date as the beginning of the journey that brought about my existence on this earth, as just 10 days before the 11th.

The Battle of Valenciennes had begun at 5:15 a.m. and the Canadian Infantry played a significant role in the two days of intense fighting that began on that first day of the month.

At that battle was Private William Henry Travis-Barker, a 33-year-old gent who hailed from Sheffield, England. But as an immigrant to Canada, he made his home in the Kerrisdale neighbourhood of Vancouver.

It is in Vancouver in early 1916 that this fresh-faced, blue-eyed, brown-haired, 31-year-old man with a scar on his right cheek signed up and was eventually accepted into the 231st Overseas Battalion.

He would leave behind his wife, Amy Agatha (nee Beaston), never to see her again as he fell on the first day of battle at Valenciennes, just 10 days shy of allied victory.

What, you may ask, has this got to do with Pitt Meadows? Very little except for the fact I am here, writing this, because he died that day.

Amy would adapt to life as a widow, likely living a cosmopolitan lifestyle in Vancouver and even spending time in the sunny climate of California.

But back in Canada, in the small town of Innisfail, Alta., her baby sister, Alice, would give birth to a daughter in March 1926, then die a few weeks later.

That baby was my mother, also Alice, and her father needed someone to care for her. Amy’s family called her home to help and soon she had given up her West Coast lifestyle to settle down in the small, dusty, very rural town of Drumheller in southern Alberta.

Seven years later, as the Great Depression marched on, Alice became an orphan as her father passed away, and Amy showed her teeth as she battled for custody of the child from the rest of her family.

The long story made short is Amy won and high-tailed it back to the coast with eight-year-old Alice in tow, and it is in the Vancouver area where my mother grew up, went to school, went out to work and eventually met my father and married him four years before I was born.

Every Nov. 11, for most of my life, I have remembered William Henry Travis-Barker and his sacrifice for his adopted country, and I also thank him for beginning the journey that led to my being here.

He is buried in the Valenciennes (St. Roch) Communal Cemetery, Nord, France, and on my bucket list is a visit there to thank him and others who gave their lives for our victory.

Leslie Norman is curator at Pitt Meadows Museum and Archives.

Just Posted

MacDuff’s Call: Compassion within our communities

Support for Alisa’s Wish Child and Youth Advocacy Centre.

Ridge Jr. B Flames making additions

Four players sign, two coaches join mix.

UPDATE: Two-vehicle incident on Abernethy Way, Maple Ridge

Road near 227th Street reopens in both directions.

Maple Ridge elementary protest to protect against climate change

Grade 7 Albion students march in front of municipal hall.

Maple Ridge teacher celebrated as inclusive education champion

Carissa Keenan teaches at Harry Hooge elementary.

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Burnaby facility to dispose of 1,500 tonnes of Canada’s trash from Philippines

All 103 containers will be disposed of properly within Canada before the end of the summer

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

Man wants guilty plea revoked in 2012 collision in Abbotsford that killed Chilliwack woman

Michael Larocque was charged in relation to crash that killed Eileen Kleinfelder

High-risk sex offender released into Surrey

Earon Wayne Giles, a Newton “tag-team rapist,” was released from prison Friday and is now living in Surrey

Vancouver woman sexually assaulted after man follows her home; suspect at large

Police are looking for an Asian man in his 40s after the incident on Vancouver’s east side.

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

UPDATE: Vancouver man dies after crash between motorcycle, transport truck

Police believe speed was a factor in Thursday collision

Trial slated to start Monday for accused killer of Abbotsford cop

Oscar Arfmann faces first-degree murder for death of Const. John Davidson

Most Read