|Date of Birth||July 2, 1887|
|Place of Birth||English River, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Agnes Cameron|
|Trade / Calling||labourer|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Date of Enlistment||December 28, 1914|
|Age at Enlistment||27|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||September 15, 1916|
|Age at Death||29|
|Buried At||no known grave/Vimy Memorial|
According to his attestation papers, Roderick Cameron was born on 7 July 1887 in English River, Ontario. His parents were Peter and Harriet Cameron. For the 1901 Canada census the family was found living in the District of Algoma, Subdistrict of Rat Portage and Savanne (Agency), Lac Seul Band; Racial or Tribal Origin ‘Objibbeway’. Household members were parents Peter (age 67) and Harriet (age 51), and children Roderick (age 17), Mary (age 15), Edward (age 12), and Mary Ann (age 5). Another daughter, Agnes, had married George Linklater on 10 December 1900 and had moved to the town of Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora). At some point during his youth Roderick, along with another local lad, Hector Flett, attended the Elkhorn Indian Residential School in Elkhorn, Manitoba.
For the 1911 Canada census Roderick was listed in a separate household in the District of Thunder Bay and Rainy River, Subdistrict of Wabigoon, Place of Habitation Reserve Office. His date of birth was given as March 1884 and occupation as hunter. In the household next in line on the census were his father, birth given as June 1828 and Maria, birth June 1892.
Roderick Cameron enlisted in Kenora, Ontario on 28 December 1914. As reported in the Kenora Miner and News, Roderick was with the officers and men of the Third Contingent who were leaving 16 June 1915 for training camp in Port Arthur, Ontario. With the 2nd Reinforcing Draft of the 52nd Battalion, Roderick left Montreal aboard the Missanabie on 4 September 1915, arriving in England on the 13th.
According to a letter dated 15 November 1915 that he had sent to R S McKenzie, Indian Agent, Roderick had just finished at a training camp in England and had been granted 6 days of leave for good conduct. He and 4 other lads had gone to London to see the sights but he stated that he was now hoping to get over to the firing line soon. In another letter from the training camp of Shorncliffe dated 11 January 1916, he gave thanks for a parcel from the Red Cross and reported that they were leaving for the front the next day. While at Shorncliffe it appears that Roderick also wrote to the principal, Mr Wilson, of the residential school in Elkhorn.
Roderick was taken on strength with the 27th Battalion on 20 January 1916 in the field. Out of Winnipeg, the 27th had arrived in France in September 1915. Their first major offensive was the battle of St Eloi, 5 kilometres from Ypres. Begun on 27 March 1916 by the British, the Canadians joined in on 4 April with the 27th Battalion taking over the front line, fully exposed to artillery fire. Casualties were high. A few days later, suffering from shell shock, Roderick was admitted first to the No 25 General Hospital in Hardelot on 7 April, and then transferred to the No 1 Convalescent Depot in Boulogne. He was later discharged to base detail on 1 May 1916, leaving the base for his unit on 6 June 1916.
One of the most notable battles of Somme the 27th Battalion participated in was the Battle of Courcelette, begun on the morning of 15 September 1916. This battle marked the first time in history that tanks were used in warfare although all 6 tanks were knocked out that day. Lasting until 22nd of September, the Canadian Corps lost about 7200 soldiers.
On the first day of the battle, Private Roderick Cameron was reported as Missing, Presumed Dead.
From the CEF burial register for Roderick: ‘Previously reported Missing, now for official purposes presumed to have died. Location of unit at time of casualty – Courcelette.’ His body was not recovered.
From the War Diary for the 27th Battalion, 7 September 1916, ‘The Battalion marched from Vadencourt to Brickfields near Albert , arriving at 12:30 pm, and bivouaced on open ground.’ The next 7 days they were in bivouac with good weather except for some showers on two days. 14 September, ‘Forenoon spent in practicing attack, left Brickfields at 2 pm for front line to take over from 29th Battalion & to take up position for attack of next day , to be made at 6:20 am.’ 15 September, ‘At 6:20 a.m. the artillery barrage opened, 50 yards in advance of German trench and the first wave commenced crawling over.‘ The Battalion was not relieved until 8:00 pm on 17 September and casualties for the three days were 72 killed, 250 wounded and 72 missing.
Inscribed on the ramparts of the Vimy Memorial in Pas de Calais, France are the names of over 11 000 Canadian soldiers who were posted as ‘missing, presumed dead’; Roderick Cameron’s name is one of them.
Private Roderick Cameron is commemorated on page 63 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Elkhorn War Memorial, on the Kenora Cenotaph, the Kenora Legion War Memorial, on a memorial plaque in St Albans Pro Cathedral in Kenora, and on the Aboriginal Veterans Tribute Honours List
by Judy Stockham