Looking Back: What we know of Pitt Meadows war dead

Name of Roland Thomson, from Ireland, lives on memorial, though the rest is lost to history

Name lives on of Irish soldier who gave his life for new country.

Name lives on of Irish soldier who gave his life for new country.

Last month we gathered at the cenotaph in Pitt Meadows to honour those residents who gave their time and, for some, their lives to serve this country in wars of the 20th century.

The Pitt Meadows cenotaph was built in 1990 and underwent a redevelopment in 2009 and a rededication in 2011, with the names of the Pitt Meadows War Dead placed on the monument for visitors to read and ponder who these people were.

In the First World War, more than 20 men from this community of less than 250, at the time, enlisted in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force.  Only one of these men did not return home: Roland Francis Croasdaille Thomson.

We know he died on Sept. 26, 1916, less than a year after he had signed his Attestation Papers and been deemed fit to serve.

We also know he died in France, but don’t know precisely where or how. He is listed on the Vimy Memorial and his is one of thousands of names of men who fought for Canada in the First World War and who lost their lives, but have no official grave.

According to his paperwork, R.F.C. Thomson was born Nov. 20, 1875 in Belfast, Ireland and was just shy of his 41st birthday at the time of his death. His eyes were hazel, his complexion fair, his hair gray, stood  five-foot-eight-and-a-half and had a tattoo. He was single and had listed his next of kin as a sister, Mrs. F. Chute, County Kerry, Ireland.

He enlisted in Vernon and joined the Canadian Infantry, 14th Battalion. He died a private.

Thomson arrived in Canada in October 1911. Prior to that time he had lived with his sister and her husband and children at 29 Glannagilliagh Road, Caragh Lake, Ireland. In the 1911 Irish census he was listed as a “shareholder” and arrived in this country too late to be included in  the 1911 Canadian census. We know he was living in Pitt Meadows at the time of our municipality’s incorporation as he is listed as serving on the first council and being at their first meeting in May 1914.

His occupation in this community is unknown. At the time he filled in his Attestation Papers in Vernon he listed his profession as “rancher,” but there was no spot for “resident address” on these early papers (as there was later in the war), so we do not know where he was living at the time.

With a date of death of Sept. 26, 1916, Thomson likely was at the First Battle of the Somme. If so, he took part in one of the bloodiest battles of the war and was one of 396 casualties from the 14th Battalion on that date.

Where his body of Roland lies is lost to history, but his name lives on with a mention on the Vimy Memorial and on a small community cenotaph in Pitt Meadows.

Leslie Norman is curator at Pitt Meadows Museum.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Silver Valley resident Freda du Plessis was photographing bumblebees near Pitt Lake when a “majestic” osprey flew overhead hunting for food. It snagged this fish, and set down on a pole near du Plessis to eat. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Time to feast

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Bill Longpre shared a picture of the Fraser River and the Golden Ears Bridge as seen from one of the remaining mills along the shore in Albion. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Living life along the Fraser

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Machine gun on roof of Pitt Meadows municipal hall, circa 1929. (Pitt Meadows Museum & Archives/Special to The News)
LOOKING BACK: German machine gun mystery solved – at least part of it

Recently discovered documents uncovered how war trophies came to exist in Pitt Meadows

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Maple Ridge resident encourages people to stand up to anti-Asian racism when they see it

Local letter writer can’t understand why people act out against certain groups

Kat Wahamaa marched downtown Vancouver to mark the fifth anniversary of the opioid crisis in B.C. She lost her own son to a fentanyl overdose in 2016. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
Mothers mark opioid anniversary with march in Vancouver

Former City of Maple Ridge artist-in-residence and Maple Ridge homeless advocate mourn loss of children

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of April 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Most Read