|Date of Birth||March 16, 1897|
|Place of Birth||Teeswater, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Clark Stewart Maharg (father), Brandon, Manitoba|
|Trade / Calling||Student|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||1st Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Mounted Rifles|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Brandon, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||362 - 6th Street, Brandon, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||29/03/1916|
|Age at Enlistment||19|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||29/09/1918|
|Age at Death||21|
|Buried At||Raillencourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France|
|Plot||I. F. 10.|
Lieutenant Ivan Clark Maharg was a college student living in Brandon, Manitoba when he enlisted in the spring of 1916. He was killed in action in France on 29 September 1918, six weeks before the Armistice, while serving with the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles.
Ivan was born on 16 March 1897 in Teeswater, Bruce County, Ontario, a small town on the eastern side of Lake Huron. He was the only son of Clark Stewart Maharg and Lula Knapp. Clark and his wife were both born in Ontario and they were married in 1889 in Lula’s hometown of Burketon Station, Durham County. They had one other child, Ivan’s older sister Vera who was born in 1890. Clark worked as a conductor for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and by the time he retired he was district superintendent.
Between 1889 and 1908 the Maharg family lived in Orangeville, Teeswater, Toronto and Kenora, Ontario; Brandon, Manitoba; and Moose Jaw and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. In 1908 Ivan’s mother spent several months in California getting medical treatment and she died in Saskatoon that fall, when Ivan was 11 years old. In 1909 the family was living in Medicine Hat, Alberta. In March 1910 Ivan’s father married Mary (Minnie) Staples in Teeswater, Ontario but his residence at the time was Calgary. Clark and Minnie had a daughter Martha, born in 1912 in Alberta. They also lost an infant daughter in 1914, at age two days.
By 1914 Ivan and his family were living in Brandon, Manitoba. Ivan attended Brandon Collegiate and played hockey for the school team. The war started in August 1914 and he enlisted on 29 March 1916, at age 19, joining the 196th (Western Universities) Battalion. Many of the recruits in the unit were students from colleges and universities in the four western provinces. Ivan was in Company ‘B’ and in June they were sent to train at Camp Hughes, just east of Brandon. On 20 October he was transferred to the 249th Battalion, which was based in Regina, and in January 1917 he was commissioned as a Lieutenant.
The 249th Battalion was sent to Quebec for training and in December 1917 Ivan spent some time at home for the holidays. The troops left for England two months later, embarking from Halifax on the SS Saxonia on 21 February 1918. The unit was absorbed into the 15th Reserve Battalion and Ivan spent about three months training at Bramshott Camp. During that time he saw some of his friends from home including Lewis Pickett, who was also a student from Brandon Collegiate. (Lewis served with the 16th Battalion and died in France two days after Ivan. They are buried in the same cemetery.)
At the end of May 1918 Ivan had five days leave in Scotland. He returned to Bramshott on 2 June and the following day he was transferred to the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles and sent to France. He join them in the field in mid-August, just after the Battle of Amiens. The 1st CMR started the war as a mounted unit but they were converted to infantry in January 1916, becoming part of the 8th Infantry Brigade in the 3rd Canadian Division.
From the War Diary of the 1st CMR, 15 August 1918: During the day two officers Lieut. I.C. MAHARG and Lieut. C.W. WRIGHT, and 187 ORs arrived from C.C.R.C. [Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp] as reinforcements. The former officer was posted to ‘A’ Coy and the latter to ‘B’ Coy.
On 25 August the 1st CMR moved to the front trenches in preparation for an attack on the town of Monchy, part of the Battle of the Scarpe. The move was done during the night in pouring rain and the assault started at 3 am. It was Ivan’s first time in combat. In a letter home he said the worst part was the last hour spent waiting in the trenches before leading his men ‘over the top.’ The capture of Monchy was successful and Ivan’s platoon suffered very few casualties. He led his men in a further advance on 28 August and the next day the 1st CMR marched back behind the lines to Arras.
Ivan’s battalion was sent to the front line again on 11 September. On the 20th they moved to Lattre St. Quentin, a small village just east of the Canal du Nord. The 3rd Canadian Division was involved in heavy fighting in the last days of September and orders for the 1st CMR on 29 September were to capture the town of St. Olle. Ivan was killed that day as he led his men in the attack.
‘Very brilliant work was done by the 1st C.M.R. of Saskatchewan, in storming St. Olle in the face of intensive machine-gun fire both from that village and Neuville-St. Remy beyond, where one of our staff officers described the rattle of machine-guns as drowning out the roar of the artillery. In this attack the battalion lost 350 men but by two o’clock in the afternoon had cleared the village and pushed its line forward to the banks of the canal at Cambrai.’ (J.F.B. Livesay, Canada’s Hundred Days (Thomas Allen, Toronto, 1919), page 246.)
From the War Diary of the 1st CMR, 29 September, 1918. ‘Battle casualties for the day were very heavy. 3 Officers killed – LIEUT. J.W. NORTH. LIEUT. I.C. MAHARG. LIEUT. M. MacRAE.‘ There were also 6 officers wounded and 320 other ranks killed, wounded or missing.
From the Circumstances of Death record for Ivan: He was instantly killed by an enemy rifle bullet while leading his platoon in the capture of St. Olle.
Ivan is buried in the Raillencourt Communal Cemetery Extension in the village of Raillencourt, just west of St. Olle. The extension to the cemetery was added by the Canadian Corps in September 1918, after the capture of the village. It contains 199 First World War burials of which 174 are Canadians. Ivan and 62 other men from the 1st CMR were originally buried in North British Cemetery (‘behind the houses of St. Olle’) and they were re-interred in the Raillencourt Extension in 1923. Ivan is commemorated on the Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial and on page 466 of Canada’s First World War Book of Remembrance, on display in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Ivan’s father died in Vancouver in 1939. His sister Vera married Harry W. McLeod, an engineer with the CPR, and they lived in Winnipeg. She passed away in 1935 at age 44. Ivan’s younger sister Martha became a nurse. She never married and she died in Vancouver in 1998.
By Becky Johnson
The four photos of Ivan are courtesy of Operation: Picture Me/Canadian Virtual War Memorial.