|Date of Birth||August 24, 1894|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Mrs. John Henry Argue (mother), Cranbrook, British Columbia|
|Trade / Calling||Teamster|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Vancouver, British Columbia|
|Date of Enlistment||October 26, 1914|
|Age at Enlistment||20|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||September 26, 1916|
|Age at Death||22|
|Buried At||No known grave; commemorated on the Vimy Memorial in France|
Private James Roy Argue enlisted early in the war and arrived in France in May 1915. He was missing in action and presumed killed at the Battle of the Somme.
James was the oldest son of John Harvey Argue and Barbara Ann Fee of Cranbrook, British Columbia. John was originally from Ashton, Ontario and Barbara was from the nearby village of Munster. Ashton and Munster were close to Ottawa and John and Barbara were married in Ottawa on 5 December 1893. Not long after that they headed west and settled in the town of Rat Portage (later called Kenora), in northwestern Ontario, where John worked as a carpenter. James was born in Rat Portage on 24 August 1894 and he spent his early childhood years there. Around 1900 his parents moved again, this time to the town of Cranbrook in southern British Columbia. Two children were born in Cranbrook, a son Gordon in 1901 and a daughter Frances in 1903. At the time of the 1911 census James was 17 years old, working as a driver, and living at home. His father was employed as a carpenter for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Britain declared war on 4 August 1914 and three days later mobilization orders were issued in Canada. James signed up with the 6th Regiment, Duke of Connaught’s Rifles in Vancouver and passed his medical on 26 October 1914. By mid-November he was in Quebec where he was transferred to the 23rd Battalion. The 23rd had been organized in October and about half of its recruits were from Quebec while the rest were from western Canada. The battalion embarked for England on 23 February 1915 but James was held back in Canada as he was in the hospital at the time. He arrived in England a few weeks later and in April he was admitted to the military hospital at Shorncliffe Camp in Kent. He was there for a month, from 7 April to 7 May, getting treatment for vd. In mid-May James was transferred to the 14th Battalion (Royal Montreal Regiment) and sent to France. Soon after arriving he was admitted to hospital again, this time for 3-1/2 weeks for an unspecified illness. After his recovery he was posted to base camp and he joined his battalion in the field in August.
The 14th Battalion was in the 3rd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division and in 1915 a 2nd Canadian Division was organized. Together the two Divisions formed the Canadian Corps. ‘The Canadian Corps now settled down to a dismal winter in a section of the front between Ploegsteert Wood and St. Eloi. As steady rain filled the trenches with muddy water the men were forced to fight not only the enemy, but also trench foot, colds, influenza and lice.’ (from www.veterans.gc.ca). In the last week of March 1916 James was given eight days leave in France and two months after rejoining his unit they were at the Battle of Mount Sorrel. The operation began on the morning of 2 June with an intense bombardment of the Canadian lines followed by the explosion of underground mines. It ended two weeks later with almost no change to the front lines but at a cost of more than 8,000 Canadian casualties.
Early in August the 14th Battalion left the Ypres Salient and spent some time in training exercises before being sent to the Somme area in France. On 6 September the battalion went into the front lines for a two day rotation. During that time they faced heavy artillery fire and an attack by German infantry, and the battalion suffered 200 casualties. After a couple of weeks rest the unit was brought back into the line for an operation near the village of Courcelette. Due to their previous losses they were reinforced with two companies from the 16th Battalion. The 14th Battalion began their advance at noon on 26 September and they faced heavy machine gun fire but managed to reach the objective, Kenora Trench. The next day, however, they had to fall back due to strong counter-attacks by the Germans. The 14th Battalion fought continuously for 40 hours and they suffered 370 casualties. James was reported as wounded and missing in action.
From the Circumstances of Death record for James: Previously reported Wounded and Missing, now for official purposes presumed to have Died (on or since 26-9-1916): This soldier was reported wounded and missing after our successful attack near Courcelette.
James is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial in France. Engraved on the monument walls are the names of over 11,000 Canadians who died in France and have no known grave. He is also commemorated on both the Cenotaph and the Wall of Honour in Cranbrook, British Columbia.
His sister Frances died in Cranbrook in September 1929, at age 26. His mother passed away in 1939 in Vancouver and his father in 1954 in Oliver, BC. All three of them are buried in Cranbrook’s Old General Cemetery. His brother Gordon had a career as a druggist and he passed away in Oliver in 1963.
By Becky Johnson
Photo at the top is the Cranbrook Cenotaph, courtesy of the Cranbrook Genealogical Interest Group.