|Date of Birth||May 21, 1896|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Casimir Solleroz (father), Weyburn, Saskatchewan|
|Trade / Calling||Farmer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Weyburn, Saskatchewan|
|Address at Enlistment||Weyburn, Saskatchewan|
|Date of Enlistment||15/04/1916|
|Age at Enlistment||19|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||28/04/1917|
|Age at Death||20|
|Buried At||No known grave; commemorated on the Vimy Memorial in France|
Private Paul Joseph Solleroz enlisted in April 1916, at age 19, and served in France with the 5th Battalion. He was killed in action in April 1917 at the Battle of Arleux.
Paul was the oldest son of Jean Casimir Solleroz and Marie Alexandrine Pilloud of Weyburn, Saskatchewan. Casimir and Alexandrine were both born in Switzerland and immigrated to Canada in the early 1890s. They were married in Rat Portage, Ontario on 29 October 1894, with their marriage recorded in the parish register of the Notre Dame du Portage Roman Catholic Church. Three sons were born in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora): Paul Joseph on 21 May 1896, Victor Eugene in December 1898 and Joseph Maurice in April 1902. Casimir was a carpenter and worked at a local sawmill. By 1906 the family had moved to Weyburn, Saskatchewan and taken up homesteading and farming. A son Denys (Dennis) Edmund was born in February 1906 followed by three daughters, Alema and twins Marguerite and Mathilda.
The war entered its second year in August 1915 and Paul enlisted the following spring, signing up in Weyburn on 15 April 1916. He joined the 152nd Battalion, which was being recruited in Weyburn and Estevan. His occupation was farmer and next of kin his father in Weyburn. His place of birth was listed in error as Kenora, Saskatchewan although one page of his service file (the medical history sheet) records it correctly as Kenora, Ontario. Paul trained with his unit during the summer and had a one-week leave at the end of August. The 152nd Battalion headed overseas that fall, embarking from Halifax on the SS Missanabie on 3 October 1916 and arriving in Liverpool about ten days later. In England the recruits were absorbed into the 32nd Reserve Battalion.
Just a month later Paul was sent to France and transferred to a front line unit, the 5th Battalion. He arrived at the Canadian Base Depot on 13 November and joined his new unit in the field in early December in a draft of 400 reinforcements. The battalion was known as the Western Canadian Cavalry but they were a dismounted infantry unit in the 2nd Brigade, 1st Canadian Division. That fall all four Canadian Divisions had been at the Somme Offensive where they suffered 24,000 casualties in less than three months. From the Somme they moved north to the area between Lens and Arras, opposite Vimy, and the 5th Battalion was based there when Paul joined them. Over the winter the men trained, supplied work parties, took part in raids and had regular rotations in the front line.
In April 1917 the Canadian Corps carried out the assault on Vimy Ridge, which started on the morning of 9 April in a sleet and snow storm. On the first day of the battle the 5th Battalion suffered about 360 casualties out of a strength of 820 men (over 40%). Following the capture of the ridge the Canadians stayed in the area holding the new front line. The 5th Battalion took part in the Battle of Arleux (28-29 April), west of Vimy, suffering another 250 casualties over two days. Initially reported as missing in action, Paul was later declared killed in action on the first day of the operation, 28 April. His body was not recovered and his final resting place in unknown.
Paul’s father passed away in 1925 and his mother in 1964. They are buried in Hillcrest Cemetery in Weyburn. Paul’s twin sisters became nuns. Marguerite (Sister Marie Paul) died in 1978 and Mathilda (Sister Marie Denis) in 1981, and they are also interred at Hillcrest. Victor and Maurice continued to farm in Weyburn until the 1950s or later. They are both buried at Green Acres Memorial Gardens in Weyburn. Dennis died in 1974 and he’s interred in Riverside Memorial Park Cemetery in Regina.
Paul is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial in France and on the Saskatchewan War Memorial in Regina.
By Becky Johnson
Photo at the top is the Vimy Memorial in France.