NATIONAL DEFENCE / CANADIAN ARMED FORCES
The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces have confirmed the identification of a previously unknown First World War grave in Bedford House Cemetery in Ypres, Belgium, as that of Corporal Frederick Percival Bousfield. The identity was confirmed through historical and archival research.
Frederick Percival “Percy” Bousfield was born on March 8, 1896, in Cotehill, Cumberland, England. Percy was one of nine children who survived infancy. At the age of fourteen, he apprenticed with the mercantile service out of Glasgow, and travelled around the world while working on sailing vessels. His family immigrated to Canada in 1912, arriving in Québec City and eventually settling in Winnipeg. He joined them there shortly after, and enlisted with The 79th Cameron Highlanders of Canada, a militia unit. He worked inspecting vessels in Quebec City and Halifax, and in Winnipeg as a carpenter. On January 29, 1915, he attested for overseas service and was assigned to the Signals Section of the 43rd Canadian Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). After training in England, he was promoted to the rank of corporal and was sent to France in February 1916.
The 43rd Battalion participated in the Battle of Mount Sorrel, which took place outside the town of Ypres, Belgium, June 2-13, 1916. The objective for the Canadians was to defend their position on Mount Sorrel, a piece of high ground in the Ypres Salient which offered a view of the town of Ypres and the surrounding area. Corporal Bousfield was killed on June 7, 1916, when he was struck by an enemy shell. According to letters received by his family from members of his battalion, he had been carrying wounded men to safety and was going back for another stretcher when he was hit. Many men said that he displayed great courage in the moments before his death. He was 20 years old.
The Canadian Armed Forces has notified the family of Corporal Bousfield’s identification and is providing them with ongoing support. A headstone rededication ceremony will take place at the earliest opportunity at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Bedford House Cemetery in Ypres, Belgium.