Five Second World War soldiers from ‘The Ridge,’ in formal pose and full uniform, 1915-16: (back) Justin Anderson, Harry Cutler, Cliff Powers, (front) John Oxnam, Jimmy Hampton. (Maple Ridge Museum)

Looking Back: Five young men from ‘The Ridge’

All served in First World War, 100 years ago.

It has been 100 years since the end of the First World War.

None survive who experienced it directly, so we are in danger of forgetting all about it and the terrible price that was paid.

Maple Ridge was a small community in 1914-15 and yet we sent 276 men and five women to war, many serving with the military of their birth country.

Justin Anderson, Harry Cutler, Cliff Powers, John Oxnam and Jimmy Hampton were friends from Port Hammond in the area locally referred to as ‘The Ridge.’

Justin was the only Canadian son of Adam Henry Anderson, whose home on Laity Street, just south of Lougheed Highway, still stands today.

Adam had another son from his first marriage, but he was adult by the time his father moved to Canada and he stayed in England.

Justin Anderson enlisted in New Westminster in April 1915 at the age of 18 and was discharged as part of the military demobilization in April 1919. He had suffered rheumatic fever and developed a chronic infection of both ears, but he was alive and returned home to marry and raise a family on the Ridge.

Harry Cutler was 21 when he signed up in 1915. His trade was listed as “teamster.” He served in England and France and was badly wounded at Vimy Ridge, receiving gunshot wounds to his back and left arm. In July 1918, he was discharged as medically unfit to continue serving, but he came home alive.

In 1927, Harry – now a butcher in his father’s business – married Eva Mainland, a hairdresser from Hammond. They moved in the 19502 to Ruskin, where Harry lived into his 93rd year.

These two were the lucky ones. Despite their trauma and injuries, they were able to return home and live out their lives. The rest were not so lucky.

Cliff Powers was only 18 when he enlisted in 1915 and barely 22 when he died in 1919. In the unforgiving manner of the time, he is described as having died of injuries “negligently self-inflicted.”According to the records from the inquiry, he was attempting to clear a blockage in the barrel of his rifle and accidentally shot himself in the chest.

John Oxnam was a recent immigrant to Canada. He had come to stay with his uncle John Laity’s family, where he worked as a farm hand. He became friends with neighbour Jimmy Hampton and they signed up together. He was 18 when he enlisted and 19 when he died a year later at Vimy Ridge.

Jimmy Hampton was also 18 when he enlisted. He was one of a very large family – 14 children in all, 11 of whom lived to adulthood. His sister Alma told his story in her memoirs.

After enlisting in 1915, he was sent to England for training and then to France. He was wounded with shrapnel at Vimy Ridge and invalided to England for recovery.

Once well, he transferred to the Royal Air Force and became a Flight Lieutenant. It was on a reconnaissance mission on October 29, 1918 – just weeks from the armistice – that his plane was shot down in flames and no trace of him was ever found.

Five young men – friends and neighbours with all of life awaiting them. Within a few years of this photograph being taken, three were dead, one badly injured, and the last with serious health problems.

Only one would have a family of his own. That’s the price of war. Lest we forget.

– Val Patenaude, Maple Ridge Museum director.

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